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First POST: Gearing Up

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, April 9 2012

Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago. Photo: Christopher Dilts / Obama for America

The Firm vs. The Startup

  • A traditional, probably soon-to-be-party-supported Mitt Romney campaign operation seems about to come face-to-face with an outfit Barack Obama's top staff built from the ground up to work in a different way.

    For Yahoo News on Friday, TechPresident managing editor Nick Judd wrote:

    Were you to walk into parts of the Obama reelection campaign's headquarters, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Silicon Valley. Beginning last year, Obama's re-election effort started hiring dozens of designers and developers, engineers, and data scientists. A cross check of the Obama for America FEC filings and Twitter bios turns up at least 36 hires whose resumes could place them on a tech team, rather than a political one. A perusal of their job board turns up a slew of positions located in "HQ Digital," ranging from front end developer to senior web engineer.

    BuzzFeed's man in Chicago follows up in an item today, and fills in details by way of access to Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina:

    There’s been experimentation—the tech team figured out a way to make the Obama website display perfectly on any device, a feat that wouldn’t have been possible even a year ago—and the entire office was designed to resemble a Silicon Valley start-up. More than half of the headquarters staff works for the campaign’s digital department.

    Meanwhile, in Boston, more details are emerging about the likely game plan for Mitt Romney in the general election, as chances for Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich grow slimmer every day. Romney's campaign structure is more traditional, but Romney is no Luddite: his tech team is just smaller, it isn't as well-funded, it exists outside of his campaign headquarters and it has until now been focused on what needs to be done in each state to win primary elections.

Filing error

  • The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote on April 27 on a proposal to require that local TV stations post information on political ads to a website, as the New York Times reported:

    Acknowledging the feedback from stations, the proposal will give smaller stations two more years to start uploading new additions to their files about political ad spending. At the outset, only the affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in the top 50 TV markets will be required to do so. The F.C.C. says the initial uploading will cost less than $1,000 for a typical station, and will save the stations money over time by avoiding printing and storage costs. The uploaded files will be searchable — but only inside one file at a time. At least at first, it won’t be possible to conduct searches across all the files, to determine which person or political group has spent the most money on ads across the country, for instance. Critics have said that without fully searchable files, Internet accessibility is only a slight improvement over the status quo.

Speaking out

  • Students at Brigham Young University, the institution with close ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have posted an It Gets Better video. The AP notes that the students could face excommunication from the church and expulsion at BYU, where gay students are prohibited from touching or kissing. Some students come out as gay in the video. The AP reports on one message in the video:

    "In our religion, there is a lot of misunderstanding and ugliness about homosexuality," said Kendall Wilcox, a former BYU faculty member who produced the video and serves as an adviser to the school's unofficial gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender support group. "We wanted to send this message that God loves you just as you are."



Weekend Wars: While you were celebrating ...

  • A New York Times editorial calls on Congress to require all states to move towards online voter registration.

  • Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was criticized Saturday after he tweeted, "Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law." Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted, "Heads up, Sen. Grassley. I think a 6-year-old hijacked your account and is sending out foolish Tweets just to embarrass you!"

  • Mitt Romney's so-called "body man" Garrett Jackson has begun blogging as part of an effort to humanize the candidate, the New York Times reported. Jackson is also on Twitter as "Mitt's Body Man." From the Times piece:

    Mr. Jackson is often the first person to see Mr. Romney in the morning; the candidate is dressed and ready, waiting with his iPad, at least 15 minutes before Mr. Jackson arrives at his hotel room to fetch him.

  • Some campaigns sign fundraising emails with their candidate's name. Others list top campaign staff in the "From:" field. But Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has opened up a whole new field with a campaign email sent Friday by "Woman Picking Out Fruit In Supermarket," the co-chair of People in Stock Photos for Franken (PSPF). The Huffington Post quotes the e-mail:

    Hello, I'm Woman Picking Out Fruit In Supermarket, and I'm writing to you today on behalf of Al Franken -- a Senator who stands up for real people (including those of us who make a living posing for stock photos). There's a reason I'm standing with Al. You see, I'm not just Woman Picking Out Fruit In Supermarket. I am also an actual woman worried about the right-wing attacks on my access to health care ... And whether you're a Tattooed Guitar Player, a Guy Wearing Hard Hat, or an Elderly Couple Sitting At Kitchen Table, there's no better way to show your support than by making a contribution today.

Why's nobody doing this for Second Life?

People for shared viewing histories

People for private viewing histories?

  • The video site cooperated with Vivid Entertainment, a porn production company, to create a video Porn Stars Against Santorum, with an R-rated final message.

Copyright news

  • In spite of recent reports, SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith denied that discussions about resurrecting the legislation are ongoing.

  • Techdirt highlighted a recent comparison of ACTA with the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, a trade agreement that also focuses on technological and copyright issues, and has also received some criticism.

  • Internet activists are also beginning to target the cybersecurity bill Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

  • A former senior vice president for the MPAA, who has taken a job with the Internet Society, said his opinion about SOPA and similar bills has evolved. "Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly did," the official, Paul Brigner, wrote on "The more I became educated on the realities of these issues, the more I came to the realization that a mandated technical solution just isn't mutually compatible with the health of the Internet."

But will Google Suggest know if the chicken's better than the steak?

  • Some media executives are irritated that Google is hosting a Washington D.C. party the night before the Correspondents Dinner, co-sponsored with the Hollywood Reporter.

  • ICYMI: Politico noted that that Republicans are increasingly looking for support among technology companies, especially when it comes to issues such as taxes and regulation.

International: British surveillance technology; increased transparency; you can't dance if you want to

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be participating in live Google Hangout tomorrow.

  • The British Chancellor said he would be open to "U.S. style transparency" in which ministers would publish their tax returns, the Daily Telegraph reported. ""We are very happy to consider publishing tax returns for people seeking the highest offices in the land. Of course, they do it in America," he said in a Telegraph interview.

  • Britain has been exporting surveillance technology to countries with repressive governments, a human rights groups says.The Guardian reported:

    Privacy International said it had visited international arms and security fairs and identified at least 30 UK companies that it believes have exported surveillance technology to countries including Syria, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain. A further 50 companies exporting similar technology from the US were also identified. Germany and Israel were also identified as big exporters of surveillance technology, in what is reportedly a £3bn a year industry.


  • The German Pirate Party failed in an attempt to overturn a long-standing ban on public dancing on Good Friday when a court did not allow a demonstration to go forward. The Youth Wing of the Green Party encouraged supporters to protest online by dancing in their homes and posting videos on Facebook.

  • Anonymous says it has published 2,700 emails between Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and other officials in his government.

  • Supporters of a potential Egyptian presidential candidate who is facing disqualification because his mother is an American citizen have been responding by mass-posting negative comments on President Obama's Facebook page.

  • Yemeni separatists hacked Yemen's official news agency.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.


wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.