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First POST: Definitions

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, February 15 2012

  • French President Nicolas Sarkozy has joined Twitter as he launches his reelection campaign today. "Bonjour to all, I am very happy to launch my Twitter account today. Thanks to all who will want to follow me! - NS," he tweeted.

  • Michelle Obama answered questions from Twitter on Youtube.

  • Bing and Google tell Danny Sullivan that the "spreading Romney" site ranking high for "Romney" is a normal reflection of their search algorithms.

  • The Obama Campaign has bought ads on Google for "Westminster Dog Show" that appear to poke fun at Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, supporters of "Dogs against Romney" demonstrated outside the show at Madison Square Garden yesterday.

  • Following a controversial Super Bowl ad by Pete Hoekstra that was considered racist, Debbie Stabenow appears to be leading Hoekstra in the race for a Michigan Senate seat. We reported last week that Stabenow raised tens of thousands of dollars through a fund-raising campaign immediately after the ad launched. Hoekstra was forced to remove the ad.

  • A poll also found Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown tied in the Massachusetts Senate race.

  • Google looked at the searches for the spouses of the Republican candidates, and found that Newt Gingrich's wife is leading Mitt Romney's wife.

  • A memo obtained by the Daily Caller claims that Media Matters sought to hire private investigators to look into the personal lives of Fox News employees.

  • Senators introduced a new bill yesterday aimed at protecting sensitive water and power systems against hacking attacks. Last year it was believed for a time that an Illinois water utility came under online attack from a computer system in Russia, but it turned out instead that someone who helped build the system was checking in remotely while on vacation there.

  • TBD takes a look at how Washington D.C. area politicians do or do not use Twitter.

  • Both Bulgaria and the Netherlands appear to be holding off on signing ACTA following protests last weekend and the decision of Germany and other countries to postpone signing the document. And while Austria has already signed the agreement, it appears as if a large portion of the parties in the parliament are currently skeptical of it, according to local reports. Meanwhile, the German group Digitale Gesellschaft has created a page showing how German members of European Parliament feel about the legislation, and giving them the opportunity to contact each one.

  • While Apple said it had selected an outside monitoring group to look into its suppliers' factory working conditions, some labor rights groups questioned whether the group would be enough of a strong advocate. Meanwhile, Apple was named "most reputable company" in the U.S. in a ranking by the polling firm Harris.

  • MIT has launched the first class of its new online interactive learning venture, a course called "Circuits and Electronics," on the inner workings of smart devices and electronic gadgets. The certificate for the first course is free, while further courses will require a modest fee.

  • A Pew study found that a majority of news organizations were not targeting their online advertising and that they are struggling to acquire online advertisers.

  • The Washington Post details how the Syrian opposition has been using Google Map Maker to rename streets after their revolutionary heroes:

    On Google, names have changed over time as the maps are updated with user proposals, which are approved by other users as well as Google editors. The names on Google Maps are sometimes different from those on Google Earth. The overall result, however, has been a patchwork of Assad-era and revolutionary names, sometimes side by side. The campaign started a couple of months ago on Facebook, said Rami Nakhle, another exile opposition figure, and it has quickly gained the Syrian government’s attention. On Monday, the country’s envoy to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jafaari, digressed from a speech before the General Assembly to accuse Google of participating in a foreign plot to meddle in Syria’s internal affairs and undermine its leader. “What does Google have to do with the names of streets in small Syrian cities and villages?” Jafaari said, referring to changed street names in the restive towns of Homs and Idlib. “This is a flagrant violation of United Nations General Assembly, the resolution of the Arab League pertaining to the standardization of the geographic nomenclature.”

  • In the New York Times, a naturalized American citizen recounts how he was beaten by Chinese security agents who were seeking the password for his Twitter account.

  • China is blocking foreign TV shows during primetime.

  • An Indian Minister stated that the country would not censor social media.

  • Ambassadors from East European nations have asked the Netherlands to denounce a website launched last week by Geert Wilders’ nationalist Freedom Party which calls on citizens to report “central and east Europeans ... for general nuisance, pollution and labor market displacement.”

  • The European Commission has selected the information and communication technology sector as one of three business sectors that will be the focus of a year-long project to develop sector-specific guidance on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

  • The British Ministry of Justice reports that the country's Freedom of Information Act has done little to increase trust in government. Meanwhile, a new bill expected in the United Kingdom would make it easier for Ministers and the intelligence services to cover up sensitive information relating to the state's complicity in torture and secret rendition, critics say.

  • Three Latvian schools are using keycard data to monitor students' attendance.

  • Language experts in Germany named the expression "shitstorm" as Germany's anglicism of the year. They defined the term as "as a public outcry, primarily on the Internet, in which arguments mix with threats and insults to reach a critical mass, forcing a reaction." According to one of the jury members, who runs a language website, "This new kind of protest is clearly different in kind and degree from what could be expected in the past in response to a statement or action."

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.


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.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like 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 is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask 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.


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.


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.