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First POST: Privacy

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 1 2012

Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. Photo: John Lester / Flickr
  • Google's new privacy policy goes into effect today, even as many users say they are following the EFF and others' calls to delete their web history before it happens. The Washington Post encouraged readers to share their #stupidgooglesearches before clearing it.

  • Zach Green of suggests that Rick Santorum is the least retweeted candidate because he posts mundane and uninteresting status updates, such as this: “I love Colorado's Western Slope! Great turnout this morning."

  • The original "Spreading Santorum" site is no longer the first result for "santorum," Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land noted. However, the first result is now an Urban Dictionary definition of Santorum that is in certain ways even more graphic, and Santorum's official website is still only at fourth place.

  • Evidence suggests that Operation Hilarity, the effort to have Democrats vote for Rick Santorum, does not appear to have taken hold.

  • Things didn't run smoothly for the Detroit Free Press when it decided to showcase tweets with the hashtag #MIPrimary on its homepage.

  • The U.S. Department of State is holding its first Twitter briefing in Spanish today.

  • In an appearance on The View, Israeli President Shimon Peres asked the audience to be his Facebook friends after Barbara Walters said she heard he was on the social network. He went on to say: "I want to tell you: today, under the Internet, we can make peace among people, not just among governments. You can talk to each other freely…the response is unbelievable. And the nation would be delighted if you'll answer my invitation to be friends [of] peace, and [friends] of mine."

  • Lawmakers criticized the Defense Department for not having created a searchable database of medals recipients.

  • An Apple loophole has been revealed to allow apps to upload a user's entire photo library off a phone without permission.

  • According to a list obtained by EPIC, the Department of Homeland Security has been asking subcontractors to search social media for terms like "Department of Homeland Security," "Homeland Defense," "agent," "task force," "air marshal" to "airport," "subway," "critical infrastructure," "transportation security" and "malware," "virus," "trojan," "phreaking," and "scammers."

  • A New Zealand court threw out a bid by the United States to place the Megaupload founder back in jail, and unfroze some of his assets.

  • A patent attorney's company is suing an estimated four million Facebook business account holders, including Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum specifically, for patent infringement over a patent concerning Internet groups.

  • The New York Times At War blog looks at the evolution of military bloggers, particularly in the age of social media, and the changing reaction and guidelines of the Defense Department.

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education profiles the Public Library of Science journals that use online, article-level metrics to measure scholarly influence.

  • A Michigan high school student has started an online petition asking that the MPAA change its rating of an upcoming Weinstein Company documentary about bullying from "R" to "PG-13."

  • Purdue University-Calumet has cleared a professor of discrimination allegations after he used his Facebook page to harshly criticize Muslims and published comments many regarded as blasphemous.

  • A Phoenix police sergeant is being demoted and suspended for two weeks for posting a photo of a bullet-riddled image of President Obama on Facebook.

  • A Reuters opinion editor live-tweeted the monthly members meeting of the Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn, to the amusement of many. The co-op — where strict rules which oblige each member to put in time with chores like cleaning produce, stocking shelves or working the register, failure to comply brings banishment from the group, and internecine conflict is a perpetual source of neighborhood amusement — has been locked in an ongoing debate on whether to boycott products from Israel. Tweets included: "Despite not being on the agenda until next month, was canvassed with Israel food boycott materials before even entering meeting." and "Man gets up, says coop should ban Israeli food only if it bans american food because of native American occupation. He's wearing yarmulke" as well as "Coop spending $4,000 to rent high school for Israeli vote. And ppl say Israeli boycott would be bad for economy." He then proceeded to live-tweet the rest of the two hour meeting even though the focus moved to whether to eliminate plastic bags.

  • An opponent of New York City Correction Officers Union head Norman Seabrook posted a video on YouTube of him delivering a profane rant rich in racial and ethnic slurs.

  • The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has updated his website with his schedule for September through December 2011, Gotham Gazette reported.

  • A Montana federal judge admitted sending an e-mail about President Obama that appears to equate African Americans with dogs and raises questions about the president’s mixed racial ancestry, but said he was not a racist, just anti-Obama.

  • Kaigham Gabriel, Deputy Director of DARPA, provided written testimony to the House Armed Services Committee that deemed tablets and smartphones as potential security risks. Gabriel argues these risks come from the ability of these devices to communicate and interact in ways that “were the exclusive domain of military systems."

  • German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was criticized for playing Sudoku on a small computer during a crucial parliamentary debate on financial assistance for Greece:

    German public broadcaster ARD first aired pictures on Monday evening of a smiling Schaeuble appearing to play Sudoku on his partly concealed computer while a member of the centre-right coalition spoke in favour of the second Greek rescue package ... Conservative daily Die Welt defended Schäuble, who has been known to play Sudoku at European Union meetings. "He got caught by photographers playing a numbers game during the debate - so what?" Die Welt wrote. "He surely read all the files before breakfast and he already knows his colleagues' arguments. Why not train the brain instead?"

  • James Murdoch, who said he failed to see information in an e-mail about the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World because he did not read an entire e-mail chain, resigned as executive chairman of News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of News Corp. He will still be overseeing other properties like pay TV operator BSkyB.

  • The BBC Persian TV audience has more than doubled in the past few years in Iran even though the channel is often subject to blocking there.

  • In Canada, the city of Regina has launched an open data portal, which will include raw data for “ward boundaries, points of interest, solid waste collection, and land use.”

  • The Canadian government is shuttering seasonal job centers aimed at students in an effort to increase use of a related online service,

  • The Indian government is creating an agency, called the National Cyber Coordination Centre, which will monitor all web traffic within the country. The agency will coordinate with Indian Internet service providers to provide real time information on potential threats to the country.

  • South Koreans popularized the hashtag “#savemyfriend” on Twitter in an effort to show opposition to the deportation of North Koreans from China.

  • In Senegal, European election observers questioned why in the Internet age it would take until Friday for final presidential election results to be released before a run-off.

  • Reuters reports on how Chinese Internet users were suddenly mysteriously able to acccess previously blocked websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for a period of time:

    "I used Facebook for the first time yesterday," Zhang Wenjin, 23, a student at Shanghai's prestigious Jiao Tong University, told Reuters on Tuesday. "I went on and took a look. I'm sure there were suddenly a lot of people who signed up on Facebook yesterday," Zhang said, adding that she had also signed up for an account. It is unclear what caused the crack in China's Great Firewall, as the blocking of websites and censoring of search results for politically sensitive terms is known, or how widespread it was. On Wednesday, access to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter was again blocked.

    Reuters reporters earlier noticed new, apparently Chinese users of Google +, posting on President Barack Obama's page there.

  • The New York Times explored why the story of the Titanic still captures the public imagination 100 years later in the media age. Researchers said they noticed when studying video of Hudson River evacuations on Sept. 11, 2001, that ferry boat rescuers yelled, "Women and children first," a phrase often attributed to the disaster.

    The Titanic, Professor Kendra said, has become "a cultural meme," a free-floating mix of reality and fantasy in the media age.But the resurgence of everything Titanic is also fueled by questions of class and privilege - a major theme of the Titanic's reality back then, reinforced and reshaped now, Titanic buffs and scholars say, by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the accompanying discussion of the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

With Raphael Majma

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.


The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.


wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.


EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”