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Comment Please read our FAQ (Score 5, Insightful) 108

We have an FAQ about this paper. It answers many of the misconceptions expressed in the comments here. In particular, our algorithm applies to much more than public social networks like twitter and flickr. A variety of networks including the phone call network are being shared behind your back in anonymous form, and our de-anonymization techniques apply just as much. You'll probably agree that people expect more privacy there. See my blog for a variety of demonstrations and thought-experiments of de-anonymization.

Comment Re:What are you rating in IMDB vs Netflix (Score 1) 164

Yes, such differences in meaning exist.

However, when you're talking about dozens of movies, all you need is a correlation. Our algorithm is powerful enough to tolerate a large amount of noise. If you read the paper, we were able to match up users between imdb and netflix with a very high level of confidence, in the sense that the best match was 15-30 standard deviations away from the second best match. In statistics terms, that's a insanely close match.

--Arvind Narayanan


Outcry Over Google's Purchase of Doubleclick 242

TheCybernator writes to mention that several activist groups have cried out in protest of the Google buyout of Doubleclick reported in recent news. "'Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick will give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world,' said the complaint lodged with the Federal Trade Commission. 'Moreover, Google will operate with virtually no legal obligation to ensure the privacy, security, and accuracy of the personal data that it collects.' The complaint was filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center along with the Center for Digital Democracy and the US Public Interest Research Group, all of which are involved in online privacy issues."

Real-Time Computer-Based Translation in Iraq 338

[TheBORG] writes "The U.S. military has been testing software on laptops that translate English to Arabic and Arabic to English to have conversations with Iraqis without the need to have a Arabic linguist on hand. 'This year the military's Joint Forces Command has been testing laptops with such software in Iraq. When someone speaks into a microphone attached to the computer, the machine translates it into Arabic and reads that translation aloud over the PC's speakers. The software then translates the Arabic speaker's response and utters it in English.'" (See this related story from last year about this daunting machine-translation task.)

Google Wins Rights to Aussie Algorithm 211

rcbutcher writes to tell us the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Google has just acquired the rights to a brand new text search algorithm invented by a University of NSW student. From the article: "Orion works as an add-on to existing search engines to improve the relevance of search and won praise from Microsoft founder Bill Gates last year. [...] Orion finds pages where the content is about a topic strongly related to the key word. It then returns a section of the page, and lists other topics related to the key word so the user can pick the most relevant."

Google Music Store Inches Closer? 282

smallguy78 writes "Forbes is once again reporting on Google plans to launch its own competitor to iTunes, a Google music store. From the article: 'The music industry is broadly unhappy with the fixed pricing and lack of subscription options at the market-leading iTunes Music Store and likely to support alternative services.'" We have touched on this subject previously. This most recent report would seem to indicate the launch will happen sooner rather than later.
User Journal

Journal Journal: The section stories column is stupid

From what I've seen, the section stories column on the right of the main page seems to show a section selected at random, and this selection is changed once every few minutes. This is stupid. Some sections are far more active than others, but all get the same amount of time on the front page. And lets face it, most of us click the section stories only if they appear in this column, not bothering to check out each section page.

Variables don't; constants aren't.