Windows Live Service Status page gets an update, now tracking Live ID and Family Safety

As part of the latest SkyDrive update today, as we predicted earlier, the rest of Windows Live web services received an update too, up to Wave 5 M2 (version 16.2). As part of this update, Windows Live Service Status, the website that allow you to keep track of the current status of Windows Live services, received an updated too:

Windows Live Service Status

The update means that the service is now located at http://home.live.com/status, different from the previous status.live.com. Besides an URL change, the website itself also received some minor enhancements, now reporting real-time service status of Windows Live Family Safety and Windows Live ID as well. Given that Windows Live ID will become a core part of the upcoming Windows 8, it makes sense that this service needs to be monitored closely and provides the latest status info to its customers.

You can check out the new Windows Live Service Status website now at http://home.live.com/status.

NADRA Launches SMS Service for Pakistan Card Verification

NadraNational Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) has launched a mobile SMS service in collaboration with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and all operating telecom companies to determine a person’s existence in the beneficiary list for Pakistan Card project to facilitate the rain affected people in checking the status of their requests.

Deputy Chairman NADRA, Tariq Malik, stated this in a statement issued by NADRA.

He said out of 62 total 47 centers of National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) are operational in six districts i.e. Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Shaheed Benazirabad Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar and Sanghar whereas other 15 centers on completing its task are now addressing the complaints from genuine beneficiaries, who were unable to get registration for Pakistan Cards.

He pointed out that throughout the process, NADRA ensured strong checks in the software so that only deserving families belonging to provincially notified calamity hit areas could obtain Pakistan Cards.

Tariq Malik informed that NADRA has so far issued 592,651 Pakistan Cards in totality to heads of the rain-affected families in Sindh. 105,455 Pakistan cards in Mirpurkhas, 240,227 in Badin, 79,946 in Tando Mohammad Khan and 156,324 in Shaheed Benazirabad (Nawabshah), 8011 in Tando Allahyar and 2684 in Sanghar have been issued to the heads of the families.

How to Verify Pakistan Card

Simply send CNIC number to 9777. In response, a text message will be sent from NADRA confirming CNIC existence in the beneficiary list.

NADRA, in addition to setting up centers, has also mobilized its mobile resources MRVs (Mobile Registration Vans) to process CNIC free of cost in all affected areas in coordination with the public representatives and district administrators, he added.

He said that NADRA has also issued 77,833 free of cost CNICs so far among the flood/ rain-hit victims.

Pakistan Blocks Thousands of Adult Websites

PTA
Pakistani internet service providers have started the process of blocking websites with adult and explicit content, told us multiple sources from the industry.

Earlier this month PTA, telecom regulatory authority of Pakistan, had decided to block the access of those websites in Pakistan that contain adult content.

As we reported earlier, PTA has plans of blocking 150,000 such websites in coming weeks, however, initial list of 1,000 websites has been sent out to all ISPs, mobile operators and international gateways to get them blocked.

ProPakistani has got the said list of 1,000 websites, which we aren’t publishing it here for obvious reasons. But we can tell you that they all are adult websites and few of them are ranked in top 100 Alexa list for Pakistani most visited websites. Local adult websites are also included.

ISPs are given 8-10 days to get the orders implemented. Most of the ISPs, including PTCL, have already blocked these websites, while others are making the necessary preparations for the blockade.

PTA is also planning to devise a way for general users to report adult websites to authority. After through review authority will keep adding such reported websites/URLs to the black list.

Internet Service Providers on other hands aren’t comfortable with the overheard involved in the blocking of websites. They say that blocking high number of websites may result into slow performance by routers and increased latency due to high number of filters over the network.

PTA decided to ban explicit websites after immense pressure from bloggers, hackers and activists. They, along with parents, are certainly rejoicing authority’s decision.

However there are users who are opposing the ban, few of them think that this way PTA will get the axe to cut any website under the cover of explicit material. But sources at head-office of PTA tell us that they will make this process of blocking websites very transparent and visible to everyone, so that no one fears the unlawful use of power.

LHC Orders to Block Facebook: Press Report [Updated]

facebook ban1 640x480 LHC Orders to Block Facebook: Press Report [Updated]

Pakistan Today has reported that Lahore High Court Justice Sh Azmat Saeed yesterday ordered ministry of telecom and information technology to block Facebook in Pakistan for spreading religious hatred on internet.

This news is not being covered by any other media outlet so far (which is strange and hence isn’t that convincing) plus we don’t have any official confirmation from ministry of information technology or from PTA as of now.
According to Pakistan Today, during hearing a petition requesting a permanent ban on Facebook for hosting competition featuring blasphemous caricatures, LHC ordered the government to make sure that Facebook is blocked in Pakistan and to submit a compliance report by October 6, 2011.
The judge, however, made it clear that no search engine including Google would be blocked, reported the paper.
It maybe recalled that Facebook got banned in Pakistan last year for hosting Draw Mohammad Day and for not removing blasphemous pages from it’s server.
This fresh petition in LHC is filed by Muhammad & Ahmad, a public interest litigation firm, through chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique advocate praying for a permanent ban on access to Facebook for hosting a fresh blasphemous caricature drawing contest world over under a title “2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day on May 20, 2011″.

Facebook is a social network and users from around the world are free to post anything, however, it content is moderated based on Facebook terms which state:

You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

Facebook became controversial and was condemned for not removing Draw Mohammad Day page from it’s server despite it was reported (as abuse) by hundreds of thousands of Muslim users. While on other hands Facebook tends to remove any anti-Jews or Anti-Israel page in only few minutes.

Update:
We just got confirmation from PTA officials that they have not received any such order, at least as of now, for Facebook blockade.

Update 2:
At least three ministry of telecom and information technology officials have confirmed us that ministry hasn’t received any order from Lahore High Court regarding facebook ban.

Update 3:
Rabia Mehmood, a reporter for Express 24/7 claims to have spoken with Azhar Siddique – the guy who has filed the petition – and he says that LHC has ordered to ban only specific URLs/fan pages that contain blasphemous content and not the whole Facebook.

This marks another story of Pakistan Today bouncing badly.

Facebook Tracks You Even After You Log Out

Facebook has always topped the list of privacy invaders since it’s inception, however, a recent revelation has shocked security analysts and internet users alike.

According to information and proofs unveiled recently, Facebook cookies track you even after you logout, to make sure that they maintain a complete list of websites that you may visit even after logging out to build a comprehensive and sophisticated data about user behavior.

To experiment this yourself, create few fake Facebook accounts. After using them for some time, you will find that Facebook will suggest you your real account as a friend. This is a proof that Facebook knows that all accounts are coming from the same browser, even after you are logged out.

So apparently if you don’t want to be tracked then logging out of Facebook isn’t enough, you will need to clear all the browser cookies (relating to Facebook), or maintain a separate browser (other than your primary browser) to use Facebook, or don’t use Facebook at all.

Making it worse, it appears, Facebook isn’t bothered about this flaw. The guy who revealed the bug claims to have reported this to Facebook through their support and press emails, but of no avail. He says that the has all the emails that he has sent to Facebook over past one year regarding the said issue.

Just to mention, this user behavior or user tracking data is of extreme value for marketers and government agencies. They can pay anything for this data to be made available to them.

After going through the track record of Facebook, one might think that Onion’s this report of Facebook’s link with CIA was probably more than just a prank.