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First POST: Taking Knocks

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, January 8 2013

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is greeted with a gag gift after returning to work Monday. Photo: Courtesy State Department

Around the web

  • Boston is looking to repurpose old-fashioned fire alarm boxes by transforming them into ... something. What, you ask? Funny thing — rather than come up with the answer internally, Boston has put out a request for information to hear answers from companies interested in handling the transformation.

  • A pro-Israel group launched an attack page against Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel at, as Mashable and The Hill noted. A White House blog post from senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in support of Hagel was first published by the Huffington Post.

  • Mea culpa: Your First POST editor inserted an error into yesterday's email at about this spot. Officials in Putnam County, N.Y. — not Westchester County — indicated they would be reluctant to release data on gun owners in the wake of an interactive released by the Lower Hudson Journal-News that mapped the addresses of gun owners. We regret the error.

  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was set Tuesday morning to announce free wifi in an upscale Manhattan neighborhood.

  • The Government Accountability Office has launched a searchable database of its accountability reports.

  • Jonah Goodhart, CEO of advertising analytics company Moat, recently contrasted the Obama and Romney campaigns' use of display advertising for Campaigns and Elections. Earlier, Business Insider highlighted a report on the Obama campaign's operation put together by the conservative digital consulting firm Engage. Ad Week recently reviewed the success Obama saw in mobile advertising.

  • Brian Fung from the Atlantic wonders how John Kerry could "out-Internet" Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

  • The Department of Defense signed a deal with Microsoft that brings Windows 8 to 75 percent of its employees.

  • Techdirt interviewed Derek Khanna, author of the controversial Republican Study Committee policy briefing on copyright.

  • An edX course on copyright taught by Berkman Center for Internet & Society Faculty Director William Fisher III will be available free this spring to 500 students who will be selected through an open application process.

  • Facebook was the top inaccessible domain reported to Herdict, which tracks web filtering and blocking around the world, in 2012.

  • Apple has rejected an iOS game about the conflict in Syria.

  • Slate, Marketing Land, Quartz, the Guardian and the Associated Press analyzed Eric Schmidt's trip to North Korea.

  • Anonymous posted a video allegedly showing a male high school student involved in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case laughing about the victim. There is also a We the People petition asking the White House to assign a Justice Department team to investigate civil rights violations in the case. CNN had also reported on the role of social media in the case.

  • At, Scott Shackford recently wondered why people seem to be more concerned about Facebook privacy violations than Washington legislation affecting privacy.

  • Andy Ellwood recounts in Forbes how his name became associated with a viral photo his friend took on an Icelandair flight of a man who became so drunk and belligerent that he had to be restrained and then posted on Facebook, though the friend preferred to stay anonymous.

    I had shared it with some of my friends and had asked his permission to post it on my blog. He had agreed and it was shortly after that that Buzzfeed picked it up. That was early on Friday morning. By the time I got out of my lunch meeting, the New York Post had run the photo and had me listed as the drunk man himself. I had voicemails on my personal cell phone from CNN, Good Morning America, Fox News, Inside Edition, and the Daily Mail. I checked my email and found over 30 press inquiries in the past hour from the contact form on my blog. And perhaps most unexpectedly, a text from my Mom saying that people were calling my childhood home looking for me and hoping to get a quote about my experience on the flight. A quote about the flight that I wasn’t on. About the picture that I didn’t take

  • New York City has launched a contest for developers to work with students and teachers to create programs to improve middle school students' math achievement.

  • Philip Howard recently suggested building "pro-democracy Twitter Bots."

  • Gothamist used 311 data to map where New Yorkers have complained about rats.

  • Files obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center reveal an NSA program targets the computerized systems that control utilities to discover security vulnerabilities, Cnet reported.

  • The Washington Post and the BBC recently reported on a virtual "cyber city" set up by the U.S. military in New Jersey to help train "government hackers" in defending against cyberattacks.

  • MIT graduate student Brandon Martin-Anderson recently mapped U.S. census data with a dot for every person.

  • ICYMI: Google recently awarded $23 million to several nonprofit technology innovators.


  • The British government announced an additional £30 million for its start-up loans program.

  • The South Atlantic territory of St. Helena has renewed a plea to the British government for £10m to bring broadband to the island. The British Chancellor recently announced the names of 12 smaller cities that would receive broadband funds from an allocation of £50m, in addition to ten larger cities announced earlier that would share £114m.

  • The Dutch Parliament recently passed a motion requiring the "automatic publication of all public material by default by all government bodies." Dutch legislators also recently struck down a proposed "download ban," keeping the downloading of music and movies legal in the country, Torrentfreak noted.

  • An Israeli website is taking credit for bringing about the removal of a researcher at the Knesset Research and Information Center for his left-wing views.

  • The Israeli Justice Ministry is drafting a bill that would let police block websites containing child pornography and gambling without a court order.

  • The Israeli government recently agreed to let members of the public freely use images taken by government officials that are posted on government websites, Wikimedia announced.

  • A search engine for pirated content in China was shut down after appearing on a blacklist of the U.S. Trade Representative.

  • The Washington Post recently highlighted how a USAID satellite mapping project helps provide climate aid to developing countries.

  • Computer World UK spoke with a City Council member from the Swiss city of Bern about the city's open-source procurement policy.

  • Reuters recently reported on a Startup Village set up in the Indian state of Kerala to help support entrepreneurs.

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.


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