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First POST: Authenticity

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 6 2012

The House Oversight Committee obtained a GSA employee's joke video and used it to make this.

Online, mixing life and work — and maybe too much life

  • Reuters' Chrystia Freeland profiled how Carl Bildt, the foreign minister of Sweden, Michael McFaul, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, and Naheed Nenshi, the mayor of Calgary, use Twitter:

    One way Mr. Bildt uses Twitter is promote his bigger think pieces. “A lot of the tweets are links,” he said. “If I write an op-ed, then I can tweet it.” Mr. Bildt combines his Twitter posts with a blog . Twitter is for links and instant comments; the blog is for longer, more considered arguments. Mr. Bildt tweets in English and blogs in Swedish. One of Mr. Bildt’s followers is Mr. McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He likes the way Mr. Bildt mixes life and work, one moment tweeting about Syria and the next gently complaining about the long line for takeoff at the Istanbul airport. “The thing I feel most nervous about is blending the personal and the professional,” Mr. McFaul said. “That’s new to me. I’m learning where the lines are."


  • The General Services Administration, already under criticism for an expensive conference in Las Vegas, is now coming into an even worse light with the release of a joke video created by an employee during the conference. Dreaming of a stint as commissioner full of high-dollar purchases, he pledges that he'll "never be under investigation” by the agency’s inspector general. The video was released by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who obtained it from the GSA inspector general.

  • The White House is allowing users to "calculate" their federal tax dollar receipt to understand how their tax dollars are being spent.

Stitching together a case

A Kickstarter for seed funding

Re: Whoops

Stuff Chris Dodd Says

Around the Web

  • Poynter noted that Buzzfeed is now under greater pressure to conform to accuracy expectations as it moves into more serious journalism. The site ended up removing "unbelievable" photos from recent Texas tornadoes for being inaccurate.

  • In Massachusetts, both the Republican and Democratic parties have released new online ads in the Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren. The Republican ad attacks Warren on immigration issues, while the Democratic ad responds to Brown's claims of bipartisanship by linking him to Mitt Romney.

  • Conservative Catholics are using the web to more closely investigate which organizations Catholic groups give money to and if they comply with their religious or political beliefs, resulting in loss of funding for some groups.

  • Two U.S. lawmakers are concerned that Google is profiting from ads placed by sex traffickers and seek reassurance about how it is acting against such activity. The National Association of Human Trafficking Victims says Google should stop all dating ads unless it can guarantee that services are not engaged in trafficking. Meanwhile, video game companies came to an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to close accounts of registered sex offenders.

  • The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is planning a crowdsourcing initiative to speed up its production cycle.

  • A survey finds that 82 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Google.

  • spoke to some experts about how to verify content on social media.

  • DocumentCloud explained in a blog post its decision to comply with a request to remove a collection of e-mails from its service.

  • The New York Times noted that the younger generations of wealthy families with inherited fortunes have turned to technology and startups. Harrison LeFrak, the son of the real estate billionaire Richard LeFrak, recently helped the company RoboteX introduce its robotics technology to the NYPD's bomb squad.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have helped to create an application that can warn marine vessels if they are approaching areas inhabited by endangered North Atlantic right whales. The applications uses GPS and other technology to send the latest data about right whale detections, and is overlaid on NOAA digital charts.

  • Failure to alert some residents during recent Colorado wildfires was caused in part by the failure of software to recognize some data from Google Maps, the A.P. reported:

    A document released Thursday by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office indicates mapping software used by FirstCall Network Inc. didn't recognize where to map homes listed as being in Morrison. Those homes were placed in an "unknown" category and received no warnings about the fire. They included the home of Ann Appel, who is believed to have died in the blaze.


Around the World: Assange; News Corp. hacking; the Internet in fledgling democracies

  • Julian Assange testified in front of Britain's Leveson media inquiry and complained that he had been subjected to inaccurate and negative media coverage, and criticized the Press Complaints Commission for inaction. Assange's talk show on Russian television is also set to premiere next week.

  • Eastern European hackers are suspected in a data breach of the Utah Health Department that compromised 24,000 U.S. Medicaid files with names, Social Security numbers and other private information.

  • News Corp's Sky News admitted it had hacked into e-mails related to the case of a man who had faked his own death, as his wife was facing court for deception. Sky has defended its action as in the "public interest," even though, as the Guardian reported, "intercepting emails is a prima facie breach of the Computer Misuse Act, to which there is no such defence written in law."

  • The government of Poland is funding a full set of digital textbooks for schools under a free license.

  • A study found that the Internet is more helpful for democratization in countries that have already introduced democratic reforms than in extremely authoritarian countries. The study's authors suggest that countries that could currently benefit from the Internet in this way are Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Singapore and Zambia.

  • The rebels who have taken over Mali in a recent coup have a website.

  • Anonymous says it has hacked into 500 websites in China.

  • Two Tunisians have been jailed for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

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.”