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First POST: Worries

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, February 19 2013

The hapless new media

  • Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: "Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: 'This is the most transparent administration in history.' The people who cover him day to day see it very differently."

The new old media

  • The New York Times is beating the drum for accusations that the Chinese military is behind attacks on American corporations and government agencies. The paper of record cites a report by security firm Mandiant that it describes as "unusually detailed" — because, presumably, it includes information gleaned by tracking the movements of intruders from within networks that had been compromised — which says that many such attacks originate from the same city block as the headquarters of a Chinese military unit. The report, by chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger, China correspondent David Barboza, and technology reporter Nicole Perlroth, goes on to say that this link — between the Chinese military and so-called "cyberattacks" or even a new invention for the Times, "cyberwarriors," is entirely consistent with information from other sources inside the Beltway, such as reports from the intelligence community:

    As Mandiant mapped the Internet protocol addresses and other bits of digital evidence, it all led back to the edges of Pudong district of Shanghai, right around the Unit 61398 headquarters. The group’s report, along with 3,000 addresses and other indicators that can be used to identify the source of attacks, concludes “the totality of the evidence” leads to the conclusion that “A.P.T. 1 is Unit 61398.”

    Mandiant discovered that two sets of I.P. addresses used in the attacks were registered in the same neighborhood as Unit 61398’s building.

    “It’s where more than 90 percent of the attacks we followed come from,” said [Mandiant founder Kevin] Mandia.

    The only other possibility, the report concludes with a touch of sarcasm, is that “a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multiyear enterprise-scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates.”

    The story suggests that this engagement is "asymmetric" although it admits that the U.S., too, has "cyberwarriors."

    Crucially, the story concedes that these attacks generally begin thanks to carelessness or guilelessness — someone at a targeted organization opens the wrong email attachment or clicks the wrong link, triggering malicious code.

Around the web

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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

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