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First POST: Yum, Cookies!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 11 2013

Yum, Cookies!

  • Cookies placed by Google on the web browsers of users of its services are also being used by the NSA to track the web behavior of its targets, reports The Washington Post's Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson and Barton Gellman. Their story presents a new dilemma for the big tech platforms, which just two days ago issued a new call to limit government surveillance. They could make their browsers less cookie-friendly, and stop sending unique IDs from them, but that could make their own advertising business models suffer.

  • Soltani and Gellman also reported yesterday on how the NSA using mobile location data to develop detailed information about people it may target. While the program is focused on overseas, it does "incidentally" collect and retain information about Americans.

  • Vice President Joe Biden is going to be taking live questions from the public today via Skype at 3:45pm ET, reports Alex Howard. The topic: immigration reform.

  • Also worth putting on your calendar for today from 3-4pm ET: Peter Murray of Accelerate Change, Dave Karpf, author of The MoveOn Effect, and Nicco Mele, author of The End of Big engage in a Google Hangout conversation on how to scale up social change efforts, hosted by Echoditto.

  • Slate's David Weigel explains how the netroots, in the form of the PCCC, still has some punch left--enough to get the upper hand (with an assist from the media) in the fight it picked with centrist Third Way.

  • Former President George H.W. Bush just joined Twitter. HIs first tweet expressed his and Barbara Bush's regret at not being able to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral.

  • Rightwing blogger/media personality Michelle Malkin is selling her Twitter curation platform Twitchy to Salem Communications, which will fold it into, Buzzfeed's Benny Johnson reports.

  • Salem is also in talks to buy Eagle Publishing, which owns RedState and HumanEvents, reports Dylan Byers for Politico.

  • The country's largest free outdoor public WiFi network was announced yesterday in Harlem by outgoing NY Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

  • If you want to see what the "long tail" of the web may have to say about something, try searching on "Million Short," a new search engine that lets you filter as many as the top one million website OUT of your search."

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