Cellphone companies including AT&T,
Sprint and T-Mobile use Carrier IQ to track what smartphone users are doing on
their phones, but it’s unclear what data is being tracked and what is being
done with that information. While both these companies and Carrier IQ claim
they want our most sensitive information only to diagnose hardware and software
problems, the public — and some members of Congress — still have questions
about what, exactly, this powerful software can do.
While most of the attention surrounding journalist arrests
at Occupy protests has focused on New York City, where more than 20 journalists
have been detained, it looks like Oakland will be giving the Big Apple a run
for its money. On Jan. 28, Oakland police detained six journalists during mass
arrests of Occupy protesters. This comes just weeks after Oakland police apprehended
another journalist who, in a video of
the arrest, appeared to be obeying orders to disperse.
week Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012
Press Freedom Index, and much of the attention has focused on the fact that
the United States dropped 27 places to 47th in the world, thanks in large
part to the journalist arrests at Occupy Wall Street events. For a nation that
has built its model of governance on freedom of the press, that ranking should
be a wake-up call, and should spark a
national debate about how we are going to defend the First Amendment in the
its own, the study from Reporters Without Borders is a powerful snapshot of
press freedom around the world. However, it’s worth cross-referencing the
report’s findings with a few other data points to better understand how the
United States stacks up, and why this ranking is so important. When the lists
below are viewed side by side, it becomes clear that press freedom correlates
directly with other measures of democratic health.
In last night’s State
of the Union address, President Obama called for a
“renewal of American values.” However, over the course of his wide-ranging
speech, he made no mention of one core value: the fundamental role of the free
press in America.
This absence was highlighted this morning when Reporters Without
Borders released its 2011–2012 global Press
Freedom Index. After months of journalist arrests
and press suppression at Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests, the United
States has plummeted in the rankings.
People inside the D.C. bubble often tell stories about lavish
fundraisers and the use of campaign cash to shore up votes in Congress.
Conspiracy theories about who uses their PAC money, or direct contributions, to
bend the ear of powerful committee chairmen and party leaders circulate throughout
the capital faster than the Metro.
Still, the stories are usually hard to substantiate, and
publicly members of Congress and their staffs are quick to deny that money has
any influence at all. Rarely is the systemic corporate capture of Washington,
D.C., on display in such a transparent and ugly way as it was last week.
In the media reform world, we often say we’re fighting for
“better” media. Of course, “better” is the sort of word that begs comparison:
better than what? If we’re to demand more of our local broadcasters, we need to
know what’s wrong with the status quo.
Broadcasters use the public airwaves free of charge, and in return
are supposed to provide programming that fulfills the news and information
needs of communities. The Federal Communications Commission requires
broadcasters to keep public files detailing exactly how they serve local needs.
But these records are generally kept in file cabinets at local TV stations and
are not easily accessible. So the pressure is on for broadcasters to put these
files online in a publicly searchable database.
the leadership of our friends at New Mexico’s Media Literacy Project, ninth
graders Jack Folkner, Martin Jencka and Jay Jewell-Roth created a video about
the recently shelved Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Yesterday was unbelievable. In an
unprecedented show of strength, millions of Internet users rose up against the House’s
Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP Act, with Wikipedia, reddit,
Boing Boing, SavetheInternet.com and thousands of other sites going black to join in the protest (even Google hid its logo behind a
black bar for the day). Millions sent letters to Congress, and tens of thousands
picked up the phone to urge their senators to vote “no” on PIPA, which is
scheduled for a Jan. 24 vote.