Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Focus

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, December 7 2011

  • FlackCheck takes on Photoshopped photos in a video that uses screen captures from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's website.

  • Rickperry.com redirects to ronpaul2012.com (via @brianstelter and @spreyn0). Rick Perry's official site is rickperry.org.

  • Is Senator Ron Wyden the first senator on Instagram? (via @JordanRaynor).

  • Massachusetts officials said they will make more than 460 boxes of documents from Mitt Romney's term as governor available to the public, even as they have no plans to inquire into reports that Romney had staff had purged electronic records.

  • Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on ICANN's top-level domain expansion plan.

  • There has been much discussion about embassies in Iran lately, with one presidential candidate even seeming a bit confused as to whether the U.S. had an embassy there. Now, at least, the U.S. has a virtual embassy in Iran, the AP reported.

  • The New York Police Department plans a push for legislation that would allow for the disabling of stolen electronic devices as the number of smartphones and iPads stolen has grown exponentially. Senator Charles Schumer had in August pushed for a single database with each device's identification number, as exists in Europe, and a blacklist so the stolen phones cannot be used on another network with a new SIM card. A NYPD report also emphasized the need for better record keeping. "We cannot identify what devices are stolen where or at what times."

  • A Swiss government report does not see file-sharing as a significant problem.

  • Members of the European parliament are composing a letter to the U.S. Congress expressing their concerns about SOPA.

  • Paypal released funds back to a charity project, Regretsy, after online outrage following a dispute between the company and the website over the charity campaign's use of the “donate” button.

  • Colorlines looks into how large corporations have created a new digital divide.

  • Google seems to have difficulty understanding that there are no kangaroos in Austria. Earlier this year, Google also seemed to believe that "Romney can't win."

  • Not only did a leading candidate for Mexico's presidential election have an "oops" moment when he was unable to completely name three books that had influenced him, but then his teenage daughter tweeted that his critics were "a bunch of idiots who form part of the proletariat." The candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, apologized and called it an "emotional reaction."

  • The European Commission is investigating whether Apple and other e-book publishers may have violated anti-trust rules.

  • At her blog, Zeynep Tufekci takes another look at how the misinformation surrounding the trial of Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd-el Fattah spread and what verification tools might be necessary.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

GO

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

GO

More