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First POST: Dissent

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, February 13 2012

Protesters rally in Toulouse, France, against a controversial international copyright treaty. Photo: Pierre-Selim
  • More on this later: Thousands of Europeans demonstrated against the anti-counterfeiting treaty ACTA on Saturday, many wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Der Spiegel called the protests "Generation Twitter strikes back," while the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called it the "Uprising of the Internet Generation." Many of the activists are already planning new demonstrations on February 25th ahead of a hearing on the agreement in the European Parliament. The Austrian state broadcaster ORF reported that according to an internal protocol it obtained, a representative of the EU-Commission told a meeting of the EU Council of Minister on "Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights" last Tuesday that the main goal of ACTA was to set an international standard for all future treaties on "intellectual property," and that ACTA was primarily aimed at the USA, not Europe, in the sense that the U.S. gains billions in surplus revenue from licensing, copyrights and other usage rights, while the EU countries spend more than they take in.

  • The U.S. government is seeking software "that can mine social media to predict everything from future terrorist attacks to foreign uprisings, according to requests posted online by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies," according to the Associated Press. "In a formal "request for information" from potential contractors, the FBI recently outlined its desire for a digital tool to scan the entire universe of social media — more data than humans could ever crunch."

  • Militaries around the world are increasingly looking for computer specialists as the threat of "cyber-warfare" grows.

  • Hackers who claim to support Anonymous shut down the Central Intelligence Agency's website Friday. A United Nations website and Alabama government websites were also targets of hackers.

  • The New York Times looked in detail into the great lengths Western government, research group and company employees go to in countries like Russia and China to avoid digital intrusion.

    When Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, travels to that country, he follows a routine that seems straight from a spy film. He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, “the Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop.”

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to replace employees' BlackBerrys with iPhones.

  • The New York Times notes that technological advances have made it much harder for journalists to protect confidential sources. Adam Liptak first cites a 2006 court case over whether a prosecutor should be allowed to see the phone records of two New York Times reporters, Judith Miller and Philip Shenon.

    "I’ve been thinking about the scene in ‘All the President’s Men,’ ” said Judge Robert D. Sack, citing the leading cinematic precedent. He meant the part where Bob Woodward, in the process of unraveling the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post, meets his source in an underground parking garage. “First of all,” Judge Sack asked, “do you really have to meet in a garage to maintain your confidentiality? Second of all, can the government go and subpoena the surveillance camera?” Six years and six prosecutions later, those questions seem as naïve as their answers are obvious: yes and yes ... Consider the most recent prosecution, of John C. Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. agent who is said to have disclosed classified information to journalists in 2008 about the capture and interrogation of an operative of Al Qaeda....The criminal complaint in the case says it is based largely on “e-mails recovered from search warrants served on two e-mail accounts associated with Kiriakou.”.....“The Kiriakou complaint is astonishing,”[Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists] said, “because you see the government delving into the innards of the news production process.” Only one of the journalists involved in the Kiriakou case has been publicly identified: Scott Shane of The Times. A spokeswoman for The Times has said that neither the paper nor Mr. Shane had been contacted by investigators or had provided any information to them. The digital trail, it seems, was enough.

  • A photo showing U.S. marines posing with a logo for the Nazi paramilitary organization SS is prompting a call for an investigation by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. An initial inquiry found that the marines believed the SS stood for "sniper scouts." According to the A.P., "The photograph appeared on the blog for a military weapons manufacturer, Knight's Armament, in Titusville, Fla. Spokesman Jon Oxford said the company invites troops to send in photos so customers can see how its weapons are used in the field.

  • Mitt Romney narrowly won the Maine Republican caucuses over Ron Paul (at least for the moment) and also won the CPAC straw poll. Google raised some eyebrows by being a sponsor of the event along with the National Rifle Association and the Heritage Foundation. As Bloomberg reported:

    The company says it will have a presence at both Republican and Democratic events during this year's election season, including each party's convention. Google also had a role in the Iowa caucus last month. The CPAC event was attractive because half the attendees are under 25 and heavy users of technology, Google said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. "This event is a great opportunity for us to showcase and tools like Google+, which we hope will be used by every candidate and campaign," the Mountain View, California-based company said..."We're planning hangouts with top Republicans and well respected conservative journalists at CPAC," Google said, referring to its Hangout feature on its Google+ social network, which lets people host live video chats.

    The New York Times reported that liberal group People for the American Way sent out an e-mail with the subject line "Does Google Know It's Sponsoring a Right Wing, Anti-Gay Conference?"

  • Search Engine Land reports that Mitt Romney now has a Rick Santorum-like Google problem. A new site that now sits on the second page of search results for the former Massachusetts governor's name — at least at techPresident HQ — seeks to create a meaning for "romney," as a verb: "to defecate in terror." Danny Sullivan's site explains that the site is higher in search results for other folks, and has appeared for some in the top four results for "Romney:"

    The site is a single page which offers an alternative definition for “romney"....“To defecate in terror,” reads the definition, with the word “terror” as a link to a Huffington Post summary of news about Romney’s putting his dog in a rooftop carrier for a 12-hour drive to Canada in 1983 that’s been making the rounds again to haunt him. ... It’s [a] pretty impressive rise to the top of Google and Bing, for a site that appears to have started around January 12. Less than a month, and it’s in the top results for Google and Bing. How did that happen?

  • Gawker reports that Pinterest relocated the location of the "MittRomneyGOP" account, a humorous take on the candidate, and moved the pinboard to "FakeMittRomney". The Romney campaign requested the change because they felt it was "very misleading" and the change was made against the user's wishes.

  • A joke that Rick Santorum supporter Foster Friess told at CPAC seems to have gone viral on Twitter, although not with attribution to him. The joke goes like this: “A conservative, a liberal and a moderate walked into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Hi, Mitt!’”

  • And in another fallout from the Santorum surge, possibly, the Romney campaign sent out an e-mail announcing that campaign sweatshirts in the online store were 15 percent off through Monday.

  • Storyful noted that a Newt Gingrich image showing his "conservative dream team" during CPAC and on his website recalls a "West Wing" DVD cover.

  • The federal Food and Drug Administration said at the end of the last week that it monitored the emails of employees who had concerns about unsafe medical devices because of concerns that employees had leaked confidential information to the public.

  • The Facebook page 1 Million people who support Ellen for JC Penney so far has 163,649 fans. Ad Age reports that the campaign against Ellen DeGeneres and JC Penney by a group called One Million Moms seems to have mainly created more supporters for J.C. Penney and DeGeneres Some supporters of DeGeneres staged a flashmob this weekend.

  • A bill introduced by Representative Mike Doyle, Democrat of Pennsylvania, would require free public access to taxpayer-supported research.

  • Mike Masnick from Techdirt proposes an open meeting between members of the Internet community and supporters of SOPA and PIPA like the head of the MPAA Chris Dodd and RIAA head Cary Sherman.

  • Researchers in Delft have developed a Bittorent client called Tribler that they say cannot be shut down. "The only way to take it down is to take the Internet down," the lead researcher says. The International Intellectual Property Alliance submitted an annual report Friday to the U.S. Trade Representative that recommended that 10 countries, including Canada, be placed on a watchlist for “rampant online and physical piracy of copyrighted works and severe market access barriers.”

  • While the Occupy movement is somewhat out of the spotlight at the moment, there are plans for a Feb 29th day of action against corporations accused of working against the public interest, while they are also calling on Americans to skip work and school on May 1st as part of a general strike as a “a day without the 99 percent.” In New York City, a supporter of Occupy Wall Street has filed a claim alleging that the city damaged the movement's library as well as computers and accessories.

  • The White House has posted the video from its Innovation for Global Development event last week.

  • Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talks to the New York Times about his reading, music and TV habits.

  • AllFacebook suggests that the new Facebook Timeline feature could help political candidates:

    Don Seymour, director of digital communications for the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, believes that timeline will provide lawmakers with a powerful communications tool: "I think timeline will open new opportunities for lawmakers to really tell a story, whether it's about the Speaker's background as a small businessman or the work being done in the House to create a better environment for private-sector job growth."

    Mashable notes that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has enabled the Timeline feature.

  • A Super PAC supporting Ron Paul is operated by a 9/11 "truther," MSNBC reports.

  • First a member of Congress mistakes an Onion post for real news, then a Missouri state representative explains that a bill he introduced proposing to rename the Gulf of Mexico to the "Gulf of America," an event that caught national attention, was a piece of political theater. It was, the Boston Globe reports, meant to mock other bills that take a hard stance on illegal immigration.

  • The Washington D.C. police chief and other police chiefs are calling for the Federal Communications Commission to require smartphone providers to allow for remote shutdowns as are practiced in other countries when people report their phones as stolen.

  • A Texas jury struck down a claim by a man and his patent-holding company of ownership over the interactive web.

  • Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi Arabian newspaper columnist, was deported back to Saudi Arabia after having fled the country over an angry response to his Tweets. The Tweets said, “I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you … I will not pray for you." Clerics in Saudi Arabia are demanding Kashgari be charged with apostasy, which is punishable by death.

  • A satellite image company released images showing military activity by the Syrian army in the embattled city of Homs. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that files hacked from the Syrian president's office by Anonymous indicate that Iran has been helping Syria bypass international sanctions.

  • More than 30 million Iranians lost access to foreign e-mail services over the weekend.

  • A Facebook page requesting that the Israeli government refrain from bombing Iran until after a Madonna performance in the country went viral on Israeli and American media outlets. The man behind the page, Kobi Zvilli, describes it as a “humorous way of dealing with not so humorous life in the Middle East.”

  • The Atlantic profiles Srdja Popovic, a Serbian activist who founded Centre for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) which has advised pro-Democracy activists in Iran, Egypt, Georgia and others.

  • Twitter SMS is now available for satellite providers, enabling communication even in cases when phone lines and the Internet are inaccessible.

  • Ahead of a visit by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to the United States, China has jailed dissident Zhu Yufu for a poem sent over Skype.

  • As more reporters of a Murdoch owned British newspaper were arrested this weekend, the New York Times reports how one 2008 email is now at the center of the investigation into the news scandal as questions arise over whether it and other e-mails were deleted on purpose.

    Addressed to Mr. Murdoch’s son James, it contained explosive information about the scale of phone hacking at The News of the World tabloid — information James Murdoch says he failed to take in because he did not read the whole e-mail chain. The e-mail returned to cause trouble for News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of News Corporation, several weeks ago when the company said that it had been deleted from Mr. Murdoch’s computer.

  • Google is sponsoring a special three month internship for six Tunisian journalists at Le Monde so that they can gain reporting skills while covering the French election that they can apply in their home country.

With Raphael Majma