Online Reputation Insurance: A Solution to Privacy Violations?

Online data security continues to prove insufficient, whether it is Facebook hanging on to old photos or Path uploading users' address books to their servers. Can insurance redress the damage?

What's the Latest Development?

Visiting Stanford scholar Evgeny Morozov says that online reputation insurance could help prevent data leak scandals by compensating victims of privacy violations and give companies financial incentives to better protect user data. Online data security suffered another setback last week when Path, a popular social network, was caught uploading its users' address books onto their servers, making the information vulnerable to hacking. Facebook has demonstrated that simply deleting data from a user profile does not remove it from the host's servers.

What's the Big Idea?

How might online reputation insurance work? A large pool of policy holders would pay in a small amount each month and, when evidence of personal harm can be presented as the result of an illegal data leak, the victim is entitled to compensation. Since few people are truly harmed as a result of privacy violations, the sums of money granted could be large. An advantage of the an insurance system is that it works well within the existing legal framework, rather than requiring a complex censorship infrastructure wanted by advocates of the 'right to be forgotten'.

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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
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In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
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