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First POST: Romney's Qualifying Round

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 27 2012

From the home team

  • Rules seeking to limit how much of the Olympics can be shared outside of official channels are likely to limit the games' potential, Jon Worth writes.

  • Grassroots women supporters of Mitt Romney are using a closed Facebook group with over 1,200 members to coordinate messaging across the country, Sarah Lai Stirland reported exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers. It's not a big group — but it's just the latest example of how activists have been using private Facebook groups as a quick and low-cost way to work.

London calling

  • Democrats didn't waste a lot of time making hay out of Mitt Romney's unfortunate debut in London, circulating an image on Facebook listing all his faux-pas and noting that they had inspired the hashtag #RomneyShambles. As Andy Borowitz noted on Twitter, "We have not been at war with Britain since 1812. Well done, Mitt!"

  • Earlier, the New York Times noted that Ann Romney's riding coach is on Twitter, as is a fake Twitter account for the horse, which is participating in the Olympics. The "dressage Twitterverse took a turn for the surreal," says the Times account, "when the real Mr. Ebeling began retweeting the fake Rafalca."

Around the web

  • Pro Publica reports on how third-party political groups are increasingly using targeted ads.

    Working with our readers, we found two examples of dark money groups using this kind of targeting, as well: one ad from Crossroads GPS and one ad from Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit linked to the politically influential Koch brothers. How many of these ads are dark money groups sending out? It’s hard to say, because it’s not easy to track exactly how much Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity, and similar groups are spending on different kinds of advertising....While Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said he couldn’t get into the specifics of their budget, “Crossroads will certainly spend more in the online space in 2012 than it did in 2010,” he said ... By their nature, targeted online ads are harder for news organizations to track, since they are only shown to some users, and will never appear to others. This makes targeted ads much less transparent than TV ads, and makes it harder to tell if politicians or political groups are using targeting to pander to certain groups of voters, or whether they’re sending out ads that are misleading, hypocritical, or just plain false.

  • Gen. Keith B. Alexander, head of the NSA and the United States Cyber Command, said that there has been a 17-fold increase in computer attacks on American infrastructure between 2009 and 2011, initiated by criminal gangs, hackers and other nations, according to the New York Times.

  • Pentagon officials told a Congressional hearing that developing its official rules of cyberwarfare is a work in progress.

  • The Senate voted to move forward with Senator Joe Lieberman's cybersecurity legislation, and the process of adding and voting on amendments to the legislation is now expected to go forward over the next week.

  • Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) announced on Reddit an "AppRights" campaign for voters to submit ideas on his website for how apps can protect privacy.

  • In a blog post, Chris Soghoian seeks to clarify what is known and unknown about to what degree law enforcement can monitor Skype calls. Skype also sought to address some of the recent conversation about the subject in a blog post.

  • Google revealed more details of its Google Fiber project in Kansas City. Residents on either the Missouri or Kansas side of the city can get Internet access for $70 or an Internet and television bundle for $120, including a Nexus 7 tablet as a remote. Anyone willing to pay a one-time, $300 construction fee can get a very basic 5Mbps Internet connection at no additional charge.

    In conversations about Internet infrastructure in the U.S., the central tension is whether the country can stay competitive globally with the amount of competition to provide service that currently exists inside our borders. Mitt Romney has said that the broadband market in the U.S. is "competitive," with its two primary cable providers, Time Warner Cable and Comcast, and a third fiber provider, Verizon. But the current troika has very little incentive to keep building out their network, add higher-speed infrastructure, or lower prices, and some companies have aggressively pursued legislation in the states to stave off localities like towns or cities who want to run an Internet service provider as a public utility. Google Fiber represents proof of concept for new competition that might disrupt that status quo — at least, it does to visiting Harvard professor Susan Crawford, who praised the idea in a blog post.

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) believes that similar to explanations the State Department gave for why negotiations on ACTA did not need Congressional approval, language in the cybersecurity bill could also open the door to drafting international agreements without Congressional involvement.

  • Reuters reported on the details of establishing a new computerized database for veterans' information to reform the paper claims system. "Officials say that if the new system, now in use at four of the VA's 56 regional offices, is fully rolled out by the end of 2013, as planned, the department will meet Shinseki's target of eliminating the claims backlog by 2015," Reuters reported, though others are more skeptical. At a Congressional hearing, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said that "American know-how put a man on the moon in less than a decade, but 50 years later we can't produce single electronic medical database for our military and veterans in the same span of time," Miller said.

  • The Obama administration announced a new public-private partnership effort to combat health care fraud through the sharing of raw data.

  • Hillary Clinton might be famous for Texts from Hillary, but Bill Clinton said at a recent event that "I have a hard time keeping up," according to ABC News. "I had to actually learn to text on that cell phone.That's the extent of my technology involvement, even though I spent a fortune of your money when I was president trying to make sure America was in the lead in all the emerging technologies," he joked.

  • CNN reported on the proposal for an Internet error alerting to censorship, set to be discussed at next week's annual meeting Internet Engineering Task Force.

  • The day after the Washington D.C. police chief affirmed in a memo the right of citizens to record police activity, a man's cell phone was taken away when he was recording officers punching a man they were arresting, according to the local Fox affiliate.

  • Tony Blair regrets backing Freedom of Information legislation, and is now being cricitized for not complying with it.

  • Livestreamed meetings of the Hampshire County Council in Britain are attracting fewer and fewer viewers, though the council had spent £223,000 on audio, video and webstreaming equipment and payment to an outside company for operations.

    The techPresident take: "I can't go out tonight, the County Council meeting is on the telly." - No one, ever. Recording and live streaming of public meetings will usually be boring because most public meetings are boring. The point is that bodies with an obligation to do their business in the open are rethinking what that means in the Internet age. Live streaming and posting video online — where it can be called up as part of the record in later debates — is part of that.

  • Ecuador wants assurances from the U.K. that Julian Assange will be not be extradited to the U.S. after any proceedings in Sweden. Ecuador may also allow Swedish authorities to interview Assange at its embassy.

  • Germany has indicated it is willing to give up some of its control of access to public information as part of new EU data protection laws.