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

First POST: Ron Paul International

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, February 7 2012

Freelance journalist Vegas Tenold spotted this sign at an pro-Putin rally in Moscow.
  • Vegas Tenold, a freelance writer and graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, spotted supporters of Ron Paul at a pro-Putin rally in Moscow. A sign shown in a photo highlights the web address http://ronpaul.ru, which appears to be a Russian site in support of Paul.

  • Stupid Cancer, a group that supports young adults with cancer, asked its supporters on Facebook yesterday whether the group should accept a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure after a controversial decision last week, now reversed, that would have ended its funding of Planned Parenthood. A separate online petition called for the departure of Karen Handel, Komen’s Senior Vice President of Policy, after news reports indicated she had played a role in the decision to suspend funding from Planned Parenthood. In a radio interview, Mitt Romney said that the Komen foundation's initial decision had been correct and that there should be no government funding for Planned Parenthood. Politico reported that Planned Parenthood has gotten an image boost from its dispute with the Komen foundation.

  • Elizabeth Warren, candidate for a Massachusetts Senate seat, is raising a majority of her funds from out-of-state. Immediately after the last fund-raising deadline, Warren's campaign released an email and produced a flashy infographic to take pride of place on her campaign website touting the number of donors who gave to her from inside Massachusetts — 23,000, by the campaign's count. At the time, in mid-January, a campaign spokeswoman would not answer questions about total contributions raised.

  • Around 70 groups have sent a letter to Congress urging it to stop work on SOPA and PIPA. A former Bush administration official wrote in the Hollywood Reporter about why the Republican party turned against piracy legislation. Public Knowledge is asking its supporters to urge U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk not to overly rely on information from the entertainment industry in putting together an list of countries that are not making enough of an effort to protect American intellectual property. In California, a woman has filed a lawsuit claiming that pornography is not copyrightable because it is not a science or useful art.

  • Facebook and Google said that they have complied with an Indian court directive to remove "objectionable" material from their Indian websites.

  • Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) posted an Onion article on his Facebook page, not realizing that the article, titled “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex”, was satire. As the Atlantic Wire notes:

    What's doubly sad about this posting (obviously deleted now) is that The Onion article shared, "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex," is from May 2011 and is something of a viral classic, even inspiring some users of Yelp to "review" the facility described. So not only did Rep. Fleming (who calls abortion a "pernicious evil") or at least one of his staffers believe Kansas now has an abortion clinic with "coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater," but it's not even recent fake news. (Though it's a fake news item that's gotten other people who weren't U.S. representatives.)

    The post was first noted by Literally Unbelievable, a Tumblr that collects Facebook posts of people who think Onion articles are real. On the original post a user wrote "The Onion is satire. How exactly did you get elected?"

  • The 2012 Republican Convention has launched its Twitter feed.

  • Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign recently launched RomneyGuns.com, a double-barreled blast at Romney's record on gun control. Including the obligatory web video, which shows Romney speaking in favor of Massachusetts' "tough gun control laws," the site also offers users the chance to join a special interest group — "Deer for Romney." See what they did there?

  • States are selling e-mail addresses to campaigns to reach voters, Fox News reports. Voter data has always been on offer to campaigns, including names and addresses, and sending unsolicited political mail is accepted practice; email seems to be the latest evolution of this trend.

  • The United Kingdom's Supreme Court has begun tweeting. The court has had a rocky relationship with Twitter. Until recently, Twitter users frequently flouted "superinjunctions" — court orders preventing anyone from naming parties in a given case or even discussing the existence of an order — on matters as sober as toxic dumping and as frivolous as the peccadilloes of an elite footballer. Recent changes to Twitter's platform allow the company to withhold such tweets from users inside the UK, noting their censorship, but to publish them across the rest of Twitter.

  • A bill being proposed in the Senate would give the government a greater ability to regulate the computer security of companies that run critical industries, but it is already drawing criticism from businesses. "Authorities are increasingly worried that cybercriminals are trying to take over systems that control the inner workings of water, electrical, nuclear or other power plants," the A.P. reports. "As much as 85 percent of America's critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies."

  • Anonymous has published a large amount of e-mails from a law firm that represented a marine accused of being responsible for the deaths of unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Earlier, Anonymous said it had shut down Citigroup sites.

  • Activists claim that Arizona State University is blocking access to Change.org, where a student started a petition against the rising costs of tuition. The university says that the website has been used to distribute spam e-mails.

  • In a New York Times column, a Chicago law professor warned about the amount of information Facebook and other sites can use to target its users:

    A study by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2009 using a random sample of 1,000 people found that 69 percent thought that the United States should adopt a law giving people the right to learn everything a Web site knows about them. We need a do-not-track law, similar to the do-not-call one. Now it's not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It's about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable.

  • J.C. Penney said it would continue its partnership with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres after a group called One Million Moms had urged the company to end its relationship with her because she is a lesbian. A counter-campaign by gay rights groups, Stand Up for Ellen, collected more than 25,000 signatures.

  • One bill in Maryland would block college and university officials from monitoring student athletes online, and another bill in Maryland would exempt public university research from open records laws.

  • The CIA World Factbook now includes audio versions of most countries' national anthems.

  • Democrats opposed to a recent push for conservative legislation in Virginia are expressing their opposition with the hashtag #NotOnOurWatch.

  • Websites of the Boston Police Department and the Salt Lake City Police department were targets of hackers over the weekend, as was a Swedish government website.

  • A lawyer for an Occupy Wall Street protester In New York is challenging a subpoena asking for information about his client's Twitter account.

  • New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing three major banks, accusing them of fraud in their use of an electronic mortgage database.

  • A New York City police officer tracked down a stolen iPhone using GPS technology and Apple's iCloud service.

  • The New York Times reported that the web is making it easier for musicians to track when politicians use their songs without permission .

  • Bulgarian members of parliament wore Guy Fawkes masks to protest ACTA, an international trade agreement on controlling counterfeit goods and copyright infringement. The New York Times also highlighted how the anti-ACTA movement is gaining steam in Europe, with questions also being raised in the U.S.

    "There are questions of constitutional authority surrounding whether the administration can enter into this agreement without Congress's approval," said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon. "Either way, when international accords, like ACTA, are conceived and constructed under a cloak of secrecy," Mr. Wyden said, "it is hard to argue that they represent the broad interests of the general public. The controversy over ACTA should surprise no one."

  • An Austrian law student was scheduled to meet with Facebook representatives yesterday as part of his high-profile campaign against the company's privacy policy.

    Mr. Schrems appeared on Facebook's radar last June when he filed a complaint against the company with the Irish regulator, the office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, in Port Arlington, Ireland. He alleged 22 violations of European law. Mr. Schrems filed the grievance after using a provision of Irish law to obtain from Facebook a copy of all of the information the company had been keeping on him. Facebook sent Mr. Schrems a computer disc containing 1,222 pages of information. The disc, Mr. Schrems said, showed that Facebook was routinely collecting data that he had never consented to give, like his physical location, which he assumes was determined from his computer's unique address identifiers, which can be traced geographically. Facebook was also retaining data he had deleted, Mr. Schrems said....[Gary Davis, the deputy Irish data commissioner] said that Facebook, as a result of Mr. Schrems's campaign, had agreed to cut the amount of time it retains data on most user activities on the Web site to less than one year. Queries typed into Facebook's search field are deleted within six months, in conformance with European law.

    In the New York Times, Somini Sengupta wrote about the different standards of online privacy in the United States, Europe and India. Facebook is still having trouble completely deleting photos off its servers, Ars Technica reported.

  • The British Cabinet office warns that during the London Olympics this summer, British businesses could lose their Internet connections because of the high number of people going online.

  • Over 14,000 items of archived TV footage from 17 European countries are now available online through a portal called EUscreen, acording to the United Kingdom's Joint Information Systems Committee.

  • Google Transit now includes U.K. national rail lines.

  • While Western countries are collaborating ever more on cyber-security, they are growing farther and farther apart from China and Russia.

  • A right-wing party in Hungary is very Internet-savvy, Der Spiegel's international edition reported:

    Party politicians speak at so-called "resident forums" almost every day and listen to people in the smallest villages voice their concerns. Still, by far their most-used vehicle for disseminating their ideology is an extremely well-organized network made up of hundreds of right-wing extremist websites interlinked via platforms like Facebook or iWiW, a Hungarian social-networking service.

  • A mobile-phone operator that has exclusive contract to provide service in North Korea says it has one million subscribers there.

With Raphael Majma

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

GO

wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

More