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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."

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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