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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."

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

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

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. 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.