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First POST: Freedoms

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, April 23 2012

President Barack Obama, here on the Rosa Parks bus April 18. Pete Souza / White House photo

Obama to speak on Internet freedom

  • President Barack Obama is expected to announce an executive order this morning that will allow U.S. officials to impose sanctions on foreign nationals who use new technologies, from cellphone tracking to Internet monitoring, to carry out human rights abuses, the Washington Post reported. He will make the announcement at a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

    The White House is encouraging people to watch the speech online and discuss with the hashtag #NeverAgain. Following the speech, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, will be answering questions on Twitter.

Voting with their tweet

  • As the New York Times and AFP reported, French Internet users adopted code dating back to World War II to discuss exit poll results online in defiance of a law prohibiting discussion of the voter tallies until the last votes had been cast. Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was either "Tokaji wine" — from Hungary, like his father — or "Rolex." Socialist candidate François Hollande was "Gouda cheese" or "Flanby" — a soft caramel dessert, perhaps a reference to Hollande's hefty midsection.

  • Richard Grenell, a former Bush administration official who joined the Romney campaign as a national security and foreign policy spokesperson, deleted more than 800 tweets that Democratic-leaning sites and journalists had criticized for their tone towards journalists and for being sexist towards female politicians and members of the media, Michael Calderone reported.

Around the web

  • The Republican National Committee was running an online ad with the message, "Come November, Let's Make Barack Obama a Stay-at-Home Dad."

  • Presente, a Latino advocacy group, is promoting a photo on Facebook of President Obama sitting in the bus from the Rosa Parks protest with the message, "Mr President: Is there room for immigrants on the Freedom bus?"

  • ICYMI, Yahoo News looked at how the Republican primary played out in Wikipedia edits.

  • A New York Times editorial calls on the Senate to adopt an electronic filing requirement for candidates. Currently, candidates for House must file online, but aspirants to the Senate can file harder-to-parse paper reports. In 2010, the Federal Election Commission began digitizing the disclosure filings of Senate candidates by transcribing them by hand.

  • ICYMI: Friday, Ezra Klein suggested that most people aren't paying attention to the political scandals that ebb and flow among political insiders on Twitter, and that they have no effect on polling. Meanwhile, the term "obama dog" was trending on Google at the end of last week.

  • A NSA whistleblower believes that the agency has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" - phone calls, emails and other forms of data, including copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States, Democracy Now reported.

  • The Small Business Administration and the Department of Education are holding a Twitter Q & A Wednesday for recent graduates on resources that could help them start a small business.

  • More and more lobbying firms are incorporating We the People petitions into their work or attempting to drive traffic to them.

  • Facebook has released revised changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities based on feedback it received from users, and responds to some of the commentary on the earlier proposal.

  • The Washington Post's ombudsman criticized how the news organization is guiding its young bloggers, after one of them resigned following two mistakes in her aggregation work.

  • Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce asked on Facebook for feedback from people affected by reported difficulties with the Education Department's new debt-management system.

  • Writer James Ball described what information he received when he requested copies of his personal data from Google and Facebook under EU data protection rules.

  • The Guardian included Rickard Falkvinge, founder of the Pirate Party, John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the EFF and Anons among its Open 20: fighters for Internet freedom. The Guardian also looked at Barlow's efforts to create a foundation aimed at funding any organizations affected by corporate blockades with first amendment goals, such as Wikileaks.

  • There were only scattered reports of Cover the Night events, mostly organized by students, in response to Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign.

  • The A.P. reports that fewer people are registering for Susan G. Komen for the Cure fundraising races.

  • The World Bank has launched a blog on open data issues and explained updates and future plans for its open data policies.

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the audience at a forum of the Center for Global Development to "tweet" the White House to lobby for President Barack Obama's presence at the environmental Rio+20 summit in June.

Around the world

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.


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.