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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.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.


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.