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First POST: Databases

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, April 4 2012

The BlackBerry is still big in federal government despite newer smartphones. Photo: Honou

"YouTube for Good"

  • YouTube appears to be hiring a team that will be tasked with serving activists, nonprofits and other social-sector groups on the video service. From a recent job posting:

    The YouTube for good team is charged with increasing the ability to change the world through video by empowering our community. Our focus is currently on three key pillars: Nonprofits & NGOs: Accomplishing their goals of awareness, fundraising and community engagement. Education: Supporting teachers, parents and students of all ages to help YouTube become a global classroom. Activism & Free Expression: Maintain YouTube as a forum for change, protest and creativity.

    (via @awallenstein and @hunterwalk)

  • Don't Miss: Last Thursday, our Micah Sifry led a conference call with Planned Parenthood's Heather Holdridge and Share This! author Deanna Zandt, who launched a popular pro-Planned Parenthood tumblr during the nonprofit's public spat with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The three discussed the aftermath of Komen's decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood and the public outcry against Komen as an example of how new networks on the web can organize for a cause. Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers, the call archive is here — listen online or download the MP3 for the ride home.

  • Invisible Children has postponed the release of its new video until April 5, it announced on its Twitter account, MSNBC reported. The video was originally set to come out Tuesday. The Guardian reported how many of those displaced or affected by Kony's Lord's Resistance Army are unaware of the video, while children in the U.S. are speaking out and contacting members of Congress about the case.

  • The One Campaign has created a YouTube video featuring several actors promoting the beginning of the end of AIDS in 2015 and an online petition supporting the funding of AIDS programs. The video has collected over 17,300 views since March 28.

  • Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted yesterday, "I just saw a sensational video that we are debuting tomorrow. @teddygoff and his team did a remarkable job. Stay tuned. #firedup"

  • Federal government officials are still heavy users of the Blackberry.

  • In an interview with The Verge, David Carr discussed how to keep track of the news that emanates from social media and the roles of the newspapers, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

Illinois launches state finance dashboard, updated daily

  • Illinois has launched a new online financial database called The Ledger that includes daily receipts, public salaries and recent additions to the payroll.

  • The Wall Street Journal reminded its staff not to engage in partisan activity, including on blogs or social networking sites.

  • The FAA is testing the implementation of satellite technology at several airports to replace radar, which could increase capacity and reduce circling over airports.

  • New York horse racing regulators announced they will create an online database of animal deaths and accidents from 2009 following several reports and investigations into horse injuries and fatalities.

  • A New York teacher's union has filed a lawsuit to obtain Department of Education e-mails regarding school closings.

  • States are increasingly passing laws that make it illegal to posses or install devices that falsify cash registers' electronic records, and enable cheating on taxes.

  • The A.P. detailed the panic faced by some Colorado residents during recent wildfires, made worse by wrongly routed emergency alert calls.

    The first wave of automated calls ordering residents to evacuate was sent at 5:05 p.m. but they went to the wrong list of phone numbers, [Sheriff spokesperson] Techmeyer said. "It was way too large geographically," he said, adding that he had no other details. "That was a user error on our end." That call was halted, and a new round of calls was started at 5:23 p.m., he said.The 911 recordings show that that initial bad round of notifications caused even more confusion in the dispatch center. Calls from people who wrongly got evacuation notices are mixed with more residents calling to report smoke and fire nearby. Dispatchers appear to become increasingly overwhelmed while fielding so many types of calls back-to-back.


  • More and more universities are working on attracting more women to programming classes, as many computer science professors say that all college graduates should understand software fundamentals.

  • ICYMI: a judge has clarified that he did not intend to suggest that bloggers can't be journalists.

  • The White House announced its first Code Sprint, encouraging developers to build job search applications using its Summer Jobs + API.

  • The number of Internet users living in countries that engage in systematic Internet filtering has grown from about 500 million in 2010 to over 620 million in 2012, according to the Open Net Initiative.

  • Researchers have developed a new tool that disguises communications over Tor as Skype video calls.

Watching the British surveillance fight

  • Outcry over British Internet surveillance proposals continued yesterday. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised there would be open hearings on the proposals and appeared to criticize the Home Office's handling of the issue. Earlier, the home secretary had told the Sun that any changes would apply to criminals, pedophiles, and terrorists, and that "ordinary people" had no reason for concern. In addition, Clegg also warned his fellow ministers against separate proposals for a new form of secret courts that had been criticized by a human rights committee.

  • Service alerts for the London Underground are now available on Google Maps.

  • Many cafes in Germany offering free wi-fi are facing cease-and-desist notices and threats of fines from copyright lawyers over supposed illegal downloads.

  • A group organized by an Austrian student who has been leading a campaign against Facebook's privacy policy said the social network had not met an agreed-upon deadline to make improvements. His group, Europe-versus-Facebook, is encouraging supporters to file complaints with the European Commission.

  • Australia has published a website that allows for the comparison of the country's 39 public universities based on faculty/staff ratios, employment outcomes, and more.

  • An Australian court ruled that Google was responsible for misleading ads run by its advertisers. Earlier in the U.S., the Federal Government announced how it would distribute $500 million that Google had to pay for illegally accepting advertisements from Canadian pharmacies.

  • The United States says it will work with international partners to establish a Syria Accountablity Clearinghouse to collect, analyze and document information about human rights abuses. The clearinghouse "will maintain secure virtual linkages with affiliated groups and organizations around the world, including in Syria," according to a press release.

  • A 24-year-old female graduate student at the American University in Cairo helps to run the English-language Twitter feed of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

  • A high-profile Muslim Brotherhood politician criticized the party's decision to run a presidential candidate in Egypt's elections on Facebook.

  • Unicef sought to call attention to the food crisis in the Sahel yesterday with a social media campaign #sahelnow that included a Facebook and Twitter message, and YouTube video, which seemed to have a comparatively low number of views only just under 1,500. The Sahel is a belt of land immediately south of Africa's Sahara desert.

  • Two Chinese microblogging services have reenabled the ability to comment on others' posts.

  • Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has installed four live webcams in his home as a symbol of the 24 hour police surveillance he is under.

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.”