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First POST: May Day

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, May 1 2012

May Day protests Tuesday in Egypt. Photo: Gigi Ibrahim

May Day

Putting a paws to negative campaigning

  • The Washington Post looks at the increasingly prominent role that the Obama family dog, Bo, is playing in the Obama campaign, particularly online.

  • Restore our Future, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney that heavily targeted Newt Gingrich, has deleted most of its negative ads from YouTube.

  • An EPA official has resigned over a YouTube video in which he suggested that polluters should be "crucified." Republican Senator James Inhofe's staff had discovered the YouTube video of his comments, and posted a clip on the senator's Web site, the Washington Post reported.

  • Microsoft released a statement saying it still supports CISPA.

Around the web

  • The New York Times reports that the Google engineer engaged in collecting data from WiFi has been identified. "On his LinkedIn page, Mr. Milner lists his occupation as 'hacker,' and under the category called 'Specialties,' his entry reads, 'I know more than I want to about Wi-Fi," the Times reports.

  • Alexis Madrigal explores the copyright issues behind the cute animal pictures used on BuzzFeed.

  • Former MoveOn and Media Matters official Ilyse Hogue, and David Donnelly, executive director of the Public Campaign Action Fund, say they are forming a hybrid PAC and Super PAC, to call attention to the need for campaign finance reform.

  • A Democratic Congressional candidate in New York's Hudson Valley released an online map to show that almost 78 percent of his donations come from within his newly drawn district.

  • Comscore evaluated the partisan affiliation of visitors to several political news sites, and found that Politico had the most balanced audience.

  • Internet users in 36 countries, including China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan were able to view sensitive information about U.S. weapons technology for 15 days because a Georgia Institute of Technology course for federal employees and contractors on infrared technology was uploaded to servers instead of to a DVD, Bloomberg reported.

  • George Zimmerman's legal defense has established an official social media presence for its client, and the suspect in the Trayvon Martin case has a new fundraising website.

  • The burning of a Koran by controversial preacher Terry Jones, livestreamed online, was not widely announced and did not seem to attract a lot of attention, but was criticized in Iran.

  • The Columbia Journalism School will be funding new short-term research projects that focus on developing best practices in digital journalism with the aim of benefiting quickly evolving newsrooms.

  • New York City has released its guidelines for use of social media in schools.

    Teachers will be told in no uncertain terms that their interactions with students online will be monitored. Employees "have no expectation of privacy" when using social media, the guidelines say. Principals or other supervisors are expected to keep a list of all school-related social media accounts, monitor them regularly and report any "questionable" behavior....The Department of Education also is considering asking parents to sign consent forms before children participate in social-media activities and before their children's work or pictures appear online, and informing parents about how social media is being used in schools.

  • A convent in Maine is using the Internet and social media to attract more recruits.

  • Reports about a rally at Citi Field of Haredi Orthodox Jews against the influence of technology and the Internet have sparked calls for a counter-demonstration, at least on Facebook. Among the reasons to protest the protest, so to speak: Women are not allowed to attend.

  • An Australian Bishop called on Catholics to take advantage of Facebook and Twitter to spread the message of the church.

  • A judge ruled that Facebook likes aren't protected by the First Amendment in a case related to an election campaign for sheriff.

  • Two Tor developers are working on a software tool that collects data on interference with a network connection, data that can then be used to illustrate how the web is being blocked in different places. Forbes' Andy Greenberg notes that Palestinian news agency Ma'an used the service to expose blocking by the Palestinian Authority, leading to the Communication Minister's resignation.

  • Over 3,000 shops on Etsy are planning to close down in a day of silent protest on May 10, saying the site is failing keep non-handmade products out.

  • Blogger and entrepreneur Anil Dash criticizes the state and focus of technology news coverage.

  • In the New York Times, Randal Stross wrote in favor of increased electronic prescriptions.

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education published its special report on the Digital Campus looking at open education, open courseware and online education around the world, among other subjects.

  • Over the weekend, the German Pirate Party voted for its new leadership at a party convention. Both the A.P. and Reuters also reported on its growing popularity in the country, as it looks forward to upcoming state elections and possible upcoming representation in the Bundestag. The party is also slowly becoming more popular in Serbia, Romania, Croatia and Greece.

  • The British campaign group FairPensions has launched a web tool that allows individuals to complain to companies where they feel executive pay is to high.

  • Nicolas Sarkozy says he will file a complaint over a left-wing online news site's claim that Moammar Gadhafi offered to finance his previous campaign.

  • CNN reported on how a rap by Jay-Z and Kanye with a racial slur in its title is still helping Francois Hollande.

  • Google is being sued in France over auto-complete suggestions by an anti-discrimination group related to the appearance of the term "Jewish" in connection with prominent people.

  • A court ruled that British Internet service providers must block access to the Pirate Bay.

  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague is promising 1.5 million pounds in support of freedom of expression online.

  • The BBC examines what a cyberwar would look like.

  • A Facebook application is aiding voter registration for a EU referendum in Ireland.

  • Nordic countries are becoming more and more popular locations for data centers.

  • China is not only deleting references online to blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who managed a high-profile escape from house arrest, but also to the "Shawshank Redemption", to which his escape is being compared, the term "blind person" and to "UA898" a flight from Beijing to Washington D.C, an assumed reference to his possible U.S. asylum.

  • Several news organizations, including the BBC, the A.P., CNN, the New York Times and Reuters looked at the efforts of U.S. forces to hunt down Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Uganda has accused Sudan of backing Kony.

  • The New York Times India Ink blog examined the difficulties that an Indian tablet project for students ran into.

  • The New York Times profiled an activist who helped found an early online newsletter that sought to get around North Korea's information blackout.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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.


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.