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First POST: Narwhal

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, February 16 2012

  • Rick Santorum released four years of his tax returns last night.

  • Slate's Sasha Issenberg covers the highly secretive operation by the Obama campaign to combine different databases to target supporters more effectively:

    This year’s looming innovations in campaign mechanics will be imperceptible to the electorate, and the engineers at Obama’s Chicago headquarters racing to complete Narwhal in time for the fall election season may be at work at one of the most important. If successful, Narwhal would fuse the multiple identities of the engaged citizen—the online activist, the offline voter, the donor, the volunteer—into a single, unified political profile....Permanently linking the campaign’s various databases in real time has become one of the major projects for Obama’s team this year. Full data integration would allow the campaign to target its online communication as sharply as it does its offline voter contact. When it comes to sensitive subjects like contraception, the campaign could rely on its extensive predictive models of individual attitudes and preferences to find friendly recipients.

  • Obama campaign director Jim Messina got in a Twitter war with a Republican campaign operative over his use of the term "chimichanga." Earlier, Buzzfeed had reported that Messina was blocking some Republican operatives on Twitter.

  • The Hill and the New York Times report on how Obama seeks to balance his criticism of anti-piracy legislation with wish for support from Hollywood during his California fundraising trip this week.

  • A Storify highlights a New York Times social media week panel discussion yesterday on social media's role in political reporting.

  • The only just newly named New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren is already under pressure for her Twitter habits after she appeared to send out tweets that made positive statements about individuals with a leftwing or critical perspective on Israel and Zionism. Both Jeff Goldberg from the Atlantic and Marc Tracy from the Tablet urged her, given the inherent lightning rod-quality of that New York Times position, to consider a pause in tweeting, especially before her arrival in Israel, and to let herself be judged by her work. Rudoren responded to some of the commentary in a Politico interview, in which she admitted that she had intended to send one of the tweets as a direct message:

    It's wildly premature to assess my biases. I have written nothing, other than a few tweets. It is certainly possible, as some have suggested, that I was not careful enough in what I wrote in some tweets, and what exactly I tweeted. But I hardly think that the half-a-dozen or dozen tweets that I've sent out in the last 24 hours add up to anything.

  • The National Security Archives, an organization based at George Washington University, has awarded the Justice Department as the “worst open government performance in 2011.”

  • The FCC has banned a proposed wireless broadband network using airwaves because it would interfere with GPS signals.

  • The FCC has also issued new limits on robocalls.

  • Reuters reports how the U.S. Postal Service attributed post office closures in a small Iowan town to the way the Internet competes with traditional mail service. However, many of the impoverished residents in the town, like in many towns across the country, either don't have Internet access or don't have access to broadband.

  • Stemming from recent concerns with the Path app, members of Congress have requested that Apple clarify their privacy policy and what steps the company is taking to ensure that user information is protected. The Path app had uploaded client address book information on to their servers. Apple responded quickly to the growing outcry by saying they will require “explicit user approval” for any request from an app attempting access the user’s contact information.

  • Twitter app users may also have uploaded their contact information by using the “Find Friends” feature. The information is stored for 18 months. According to ZDNet, information such as “user IP addresses, referring pages, pages visited, and search terms” may also be recorded and stored.

  • The Federal Trade Commission's former chief privacy officer discussed his new job as executive director of the Network Advertising Initiative, the voluntary online advertising standards association, with Talking Points Memo, and the release of the group's annual compliance report, detailing the operations of and complaints against its members.

  • European Union officials released a document detailing the transparency of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations to the representative on freedom of the media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who wrote a letter to the European Parliament urging it to reassess ACTA to preserve freedom of expression. While a member of the European People's Party was first quoted as saying, "ACTA c'est fini" (ACTA is finished), the next day he released a statement explaining that the ratification process had just begun, and that it would be studied carefully and that all concerns about restrictions on the Internet would be considered, according to European news reports. A visualisation shows anti-ACTA protests planned for February 25th.

  • Writing for Bloomberg, Susan Crawford makes the case for a publicly owned Internet.

  • Wireless voting is still far away, Brookings Institute panelists agreed.

  • @BarackObama personally tweeted Michelle Obama wishing her a happy Valentine's Day.

  • The conservative-leaning site Newsbusters site criticized the inclusion of a same-sex couple in Google's Valentine's day doodle.

  • The Associated Press is suing the news service Meltwater, claiming that it is "undercutting AP's business by providing its content to Meltwater clients without paying for it," particularly government clients, Poynter reported.

  • Tom McGeveran of Capital New York takes another close look at what Buzzfeed's ultimate goals might be and how they differ or are similar to those of the Huffington Post.

  • A blog received a leak of documents revealing the operations of the Heartland Institute, a think tank that seeks to promote skepticism about the origin of climate change.

  • New Apple chief executive Timothy Cook promised that the company would publish on its website what portion of its suppliers are complying with Apple’s work-week standards.

  • ArsTechnica reports that TradeHill, the second-largest Bitcoin exchange, has closed due to increased regulations covering the e-currency and alleged theft of over $100,000 from a payment processor.

  • European and American researchers have found a flaw in a common online encryption method.

  • The trustee for the troubled company MF Global has agreed to hand over thousands of internal e-mail and documents to federal investigators.

  • ABC News is collaborating with Bluefin Labs to analyze social media reactions to TV coverage during the 2012 campaign.

  • Hulu is airing an "Office"-like show called Battleground, a mock documentary set inside the campaign of a Wisconsin state senator. Meanwhile, HBO has released the trailer for its Game Change movie. Its first line, spoken by a campaign operative to John McCain: "We live in the age of YouTube and the 24 hour news cycle, how else do you think a man who has no major life accomplishments is leading an American hero?"

  • Politifact has been mocked for fact-checking a statement made by singer Ricky Martin on the TV show "Glee" that high school students should learn Spanish because "the U.S. Census believes that by 2030 the majority of Americans will use Spanish as their first language." Politifact also received criticism for its response to a claim by Marco Rubio that "the majority of Americans are conservative."

  • Jack Shafer at Reuters and Erik Wemple at the Washington Post are critical of the Daily Caller's targeting of Media Matters.

  • In an Arizona lawsuit, the Department of Justice is arguing that the use of a false name on a cell phone plan is fraud and means the loss of a reasonable expectation of privacy. Facebook is launching verified accounts that will require a government ID to create.

  • New York City and New York State health departments will be testing Query Health, a new method of querying different clinical databases, Informationweek reported:

    Query Health will help public health agencies and researchers obtain reports incorporating non-patient-identifiable data aggregated from multiple electronic health records and other information systems. The reports can be used in population health management, disease outbreak monitoring, post-market drug surveillance, comparative effectiveness research, and quality and performance measures

  • Ad Age looks at how Carnival Cruise Corp. responded in a sparing, disengaged way on social media to the recent Italian cruise ship disaster.

  • The websites of the NASDAQ and the BATS exchange were hacked.

  • Hackers affiliated with Anonymous attacked the website of Combined Systems on the anniversary of the Bahrain uprising, saying that the attack was in retaliation for sales by the company of chemical weapons "to repress our revolutionary movements." Global Voices curated tweets, photos and reports from the ongoing protests in the country. Another site curating information is LULU LIVE.

  • As a journalist writes about the popularity of YouTube as a vehicle to criticize Vladimir Putin, a video seeming to show him behind prison bars is going viral.

  • As Techdirt first reported, British authorities have shut down a music site.

  • Parallel to the airing of his official campaign announcement in an evening TV interview, Nicolas Sarkozy tweeted, "Yes, I am a candidate in the presidential election." He has launched his campaign website with the message "A Strong France", as has his opponent, Francois Hollande, with the message, "the change is now."

  • The Canadian “Protect Children from Internet Predators Act” has come under fire from critics, who argue that the legislation will infringe Canadians' privacy. Vic Toews, advocate of the legislation and the Public Safety Minister, said that people could either “stand with us or with child pornographers.” In response, a critic of the Toews and the legislation has created a parody Twitter account that provides unverified details behind Toews’ divorce. The account currently boasts more than 3,000 followers.

  • Facebook use in Brazil has greatly increased, nearly tripling its users in the country in 2011, and it has become the most popular social network in the country, placing it ahead of Google’s Orkut.

  • Experts say that Iran has neutralized the so-called Stuxnet virus.

  • The German newspaper Die Welt reports that Twitter plans to open an office in Hamburg, in many ways the media capital of Germany. Cologne had publically lobbied on Twitter for the company to open its office there.

  • Research has found that Australian jurors lack basic knowledge of how their justice system works, and the study's authors blame the influence of U.S. legal dramas.

    In one local study conducted by Professor Ogloff and his team, jury comprehension was tested among 725 would-be jurors in a simulated rape trial. They found comprehension ranged from 40 per cent to about 60 per cent. The usage of the term Miranda rights was also a source of ''disappointment'', Professor Ogloff said. "In other work I've done, particularly on people's understanding of mental illness and the insanity defence, they would often write things like, 'I'm not sure they would understand their Miranda warnings' - when people don't get Miranda warnings here,'' he said.

with Raphael Majma