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First POST: Saviors

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 13 2012

Checking the facts

  • After Democratic operative Hilary Rosen said Wednesday night on CNN that Ann Romney hadn't "worked a day in her life," conservative commentators cited White House visitor logs, posted online, to make the case that she was actually a surrogate for Obama. Faced with questions about 37 appearances of a "Hilary Rosen" in visitor logs, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded, per The Hill, "I personally know three Hilary Rosens."

    "I'm not sure those represent the person we're talking about here," he said.

    The White House has repeatedly said that the visitor logs are not definitive for that very reason: Just because someone has the same name as a person of interest, doesn't mean that's the one who visited the White House.

    "This unprecedented level of transparency," then-White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen wrote in 2009, around the launch of the logs, "can sometimes be confusing rather than providing clear information."

    The logs come from the Secret Service, which uses them to clear and track visitors to the White House complex.

  • Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake from the Washington Post say that YouTube and Twitter are hurting Mitt Romney because they help make every phrase or position he had in the past available online. The latest Romney-has-plastic-opinions argument — the "Etch-a-Sketch" line helpfully provided by one of his advisers — is just one in a long line. And while using video to punish candidates for what they say has been famously effective since George Allen's 2006 "Macaca moment," the more-digital-than-ever nature of this primary may mean that Romney's statements are more indexed, and more easily searchable, than ever.

  • The White House announced a Do Not Pay tool and a website for federal agencies, PaymentAccuracy.gov, to prevent improper payments by "providing a single point of access to an array of databases and using data analytics."

Does he hang out with Ryan Gosling?

Around the web

  • The Obama campaign released a video celebrating the "Anniversary of Romneycare."

  • Texts from Hillary has inspired Telegrams from Ron.

  • A new group called Repledge aims to direct some political donation money to charity through its website.

    Here ís how it would work: Donors from each party would pledge a certain amount during fund drives at the firm's Web site, www.repledge.com. Once the time expired, Repledge would divvy up equal amounts from each side to be given to charities chosen by the donors. Any remainder would be given to political candidates.

  • Alex Howard features four essays on how government can serve citizens through social media from the founder of GovLoop.com, the director of web communications at the Environmental Protection Agency, the executive director of digital strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the former social media manager for NASA.

  • ProPublica notes a new registered Super PAC called CREEP, evoking Watergate's Committee to Re-Elect the President. While it is even based out of the Watergate building, it was registered by a graduate student in public policy at Georgetown University, advocates for disclosure, and has no intention of raising money.

  • Chris Hughes, MoveOn.org and others are backing a proposal for a public financing system for elections in New York City. The city already has a system of matching funds that rewards candidates for raising small amounts from a large number of donors in the districts where they plan to run, but every year, several candidates are brought to task after the election with fines and accusations of rules violations.

  • The Center for Investigative Reporting is launching a YouTube channel for investigative reporting with funding from the Knight Foundation. CIR also co-hosted the first TechRaking summit at Google to to explore new tools for muckraking, long-form and investigative journalism.

  • Facebook has announced that users can download more of their data, a change attributed to the advocacy of a Facebook-critical group of Austrian students. The group says that while Facebook is now offering 39 categories of information about its users with the change, it actually holds 84 such categories.

  • The New York Times has updated and improved Fech, a Ruby tool that can parse electronic campaign files.

  • At GigaOm, Derrick Harris argues that while CISPA isn't perfect, it should not be equated to SOPA. The House Committee on Intelligence released a document with "Cyber Bill Key Points." In an interview, MPAA head Chris Dodd says that the SOPA legislation is "dead." In an English translation of a contribution to the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, a professor who researches issues of Internet economics explores why the psychology of ownership when it comes to virtual content informs many Internet users' problems with SOPA and ACTA, but also how they value the use of their own data by social networks. The Internet Archive has saved the blackout websites from January's day of action against SOPA.

International headlines

  • The European Parliament's rapporteur for ACTA has recommended that the parliament reject the treaty. A leaked G8 document reveals that the countries that initially supported ACTA believe the agreement must be reworked and possibly abandoned in its current form, according to the advocacy group EDRI.

  • Fifty-one entries have gone to the next step in the Knight News Challenge.

  • A court in Boston has sentenced a man to at least 17 years in jail who prosecutors said glorified Al Qaeda online with videos and documents.

  • Nicolas Sarkozy's cabinet has approved proposals that would make it illegal to regularly visit websites that incite or praise deadly terrorism, the Guardian reported.

  • Two teenagers in Britain have been arrested after hackers posted recordings online that appeared to be from the Metropolitan Police.

  • In absolute numbers, most Internet users in Europe are in Russia and Germany.

  • The Royal Canadian Mint aims to launch a new digital currency called MintChip, and is already seeking developers to create applications based on it.

  • Oxford University and the Vatican are cooperating to digitize 1.5 million pages of ancient texts and make them freely available online.

  • An Internet radio station based in Israel that is aimed at Iran has a global reach.

  • In South Korea, the political opposition party mostly was not able to translate online support into votes.

    Democratic United's Twitter-based campaign did not work as well in provinces with older populations as it did in major cities. But in Seoul, it routed Ms. Park's New Frontier, 30 to 16 seats. The populous capital city, with 10 million people, or one-fifth of the national population, is a crucial battleground for presidential candidates.

  • In Mexico, a video produced by a group called Our Mexico of the Future in which children ask the presidential candidates questions and act out scenes of violence plaguing parts of the country has gone viral with two million views.

  • An international online petition against a law in Russia's St. Petersburg forbidding "gay propaganda" has 45,466 signatures.

  • In Russia, allegations of election irregularities in a town in the south, written about on the blog of a mayoral challenger who is on a hunger strike, caught the attention of national protest leader Alexei Navalny, even though the blog was little-read in the town itself because of lack of Internet access. Navalny and his supporters have now traveled to the city call the issue to wider national attention. At the same time, wealthy supporters of the opposition have been offering to pay for plane tickets for others on Twitter.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Creeping

Senator Al Franken's tough questions for Uber's CEO; how the NSA could make its phone metadata program permanent; global privacy groups launch a personal spyware catcher called Detekt; and much, much more. GO

Recreation.gov and other Govt Projects Move Toward Embracing New Digital Approach

A draft request for proposals for the revamping of Recreation.gov will include a requirement that reservation availability data be publicly accessible and that all proposals detail how they will enable third-party sales, as two members of the United States Digital Services have joined the government team overseeing the RFP, meeting some key demands of civic technologists and consumer oriented technology companies. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Ubermenschens

Surge-pricing in effect for Uber privacy violations; why "privacy" policies should be called "data usage" policies; pols silent on Uber mess; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Uber Falles

Uber exposed for plan to dig up dirt on journalist critics; sneaking a SOPA provision into the USA Freedom Act; high-speed free WiFi coming to NYC; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Differences

How to use Twitter to circumvent campaign coordination rules; the net neutrality debate keeps getting hotter; charting the gender balance at dataviz conference using dataviz; and much, much more. GO

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