The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

Category: Politics

Where's my Wikipedia? SOPA, PIPA blackout coming

Jimmy Wales will shut down Wikipedia for 24 hours

Wikipedia is among hundreds of websites that will be showing just how they feel about SOPA  by going dark Wednesday.

The English-language version of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, will be shut down for 24 hours in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Property Act, now working their way through Congress.

Jimmy Wales, site co-founder, told the BBC's Martha Kearney on Tuesday morning that "tomorrow from midnight Washington D.C. time until midnight the entire day of Wednesday, we're going to blank out" the English version of Wikipedia and post a message of protest.

He told Kearney that the legislation makes "something like Wikipedia essentially impossible ... if the provider has to police everything that everyone is doing on the site."

Websites taking part in the so-called SOPA Strike include Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and Boing Boing.

Twitter was hopping Tuesday morning with the news:

From the BBC's Philippia Thomas: "#Twitter chief says 'Closing a global business in reaction to a single-issue national politics is foolish'. How about that #Wikipedia?"

Greenpeace tweeted:  " 'We're sorry, you're not allowed to read this.' Join us in saying no to corporate censorship of the internet."

The MPAA and others who support the law say the Internet operators have it all wrong. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday:

The Motion Picture Assn. of America and others driving the legislation said real progress had been made toward creating a law that would protect intellectual property. The advocates said misinformation is inflaming passions on the Web while doing nothing to solve the problem of piracy.


Zappos website hacked

No Steve Jobs doll after all

Waterproof smartphones up next?

-- Amy Hubbard

Photo: Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales in 2011.  Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press

Obama 2012 campaign joins Instagram on eve of Iowa caucuses

Barack Obama's first photo on Instagram

As Republicans focused on the Iowa caucuses and President Barack Obama made a pitch to Iowans of his own over streaming video on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 reelection campaign took its message to Instagram.

The president's campaign staff, which is also looking to reach voters on Tumblr and Google+ (along with a few Republican rivals), has posted two photos thus far, both of the president speaking with Iowa's caucus voters via video chat, making his case for another term in the White House.

Although Instagram — a photo-sharing app known for retro filters that allows people to share photos with one another from their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads — is new territory for Obama, the move by his 2012 campaign shouldn't come as a surprise.

In the 2008 election, Obama's team was so well known for its use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to help build up an overwhelming amount of support that the Technology blog described Obama as "the first social media President." And over the last four years, the White House has made great use of the photo-sharing site Flickr.

Instagram, which has seen its more than 5-million users share more than 150-million photos, said in a company blog post that it is "excited to welcome President Barack Obama to Instagram" and that it looks "forward to seeing how President Obama uses Instagram to give folks a visual sense of what happens in the everyday life of the President of the United States."

The Obama 2012 campaign is also looking for supporters to share their photos with the @BarackObama Instagram account by tagging their photos with "#obama2012," Instagram said.

The company also made sure to point out that political coverage on Instagram has been on the rise over the last year as the 2012 presidential election gets closer.

"News organizations such as NBC News, ABC World News and the Washington Post have been sharing behind-the-scenes photos at debates and town hall meetings across the country, offering a unique look into the 2012 elections," Instagram said.

Among the most interesting photos shared so far by news organizations covering the election on Instagram would have to be Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker's shot of Republican hopeful Mitt Romney typing on his Apple iPad in an airport.


Obama 2012 campaign heads to Tumblr

President Obama's 2012 campaign joins Google+

Tech entrepreneur Kevin Systrom is focused on photography

— Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Image: A screen shot of President Barack Obama's first Instagram photo. Credit: Obama 2012 / Instagram

Facebook's top political stories: from Occupy to the ‘dougie’

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street, Osama bin Laden's death and the birther movement all ranked high on Facebook's top political stories this year. 

The social networking site said Wednesday that its "Facebook Political Team" looked at some of the top sources for political news and what stories received the most traffic from Facebook through friend shares, pages and social plug-ins such as the "like" button.

The top 40 stories came from newspapers, television news shows and blogs and "represent the type of political news people have been sharing and discussing with their Facebook friends this year," the tech company said.

Coming in at No. 1: "Open letter to that 53% guy," in which an Occupy supporter responds to a former Marine who posted a photo of himself telling Occupy supporters to, among other things, "Suck it up you whiners." The story has been shared 585,000 times, "liked" on Facebook 150,000 times and has nearly 600 comments on the Daily Kos, a political blog.

Facebook's list wasn't all economy and wars, though. It also contained some light-hearted stories, including First Lady Michelle Obama's visit to a middle school in which she danced the dougie and running man (No. 6), the Obamas shopping at a Target (No. 29) and lobbyists succeeding at getting pizza classified as a vegetable in schools (No. 38). 

Here's the full list: 

1. Daily Kos: Open Letter to that 53% Guy
2. Washington Post: Obama's and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph
3. FOX News: Should U.S. Get Involved in Syria?
4. CNN: Osama bin Laden, the face of terror, killed in Pakistan
5. Salon: "USA! USA!" is the wrong response
6. Huffington Post: Michelle Obama Dances 'The Dougie' & 'The Running Man'
7. Huffington Post: Obama's Birth Certificate Through The Eyes Of A Birther
8. CNN: Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it
9. Huffington Post: Sarah Palin's PAC Puts Gun Sights On Democrats She's Targeting In 2010
10: MSNBC: Anti-gay marriage group fakes support with doctored photos
11. Huffington Post: Conservative Pie: Republicans Introduce Legislation Redefining Pi
12.Huffington Post: Westboro To Picket Funerals Of Arizona Shooting Victims
13. MSNBC: Web's bin Laden 'death photo' (just the photo) is fake
14. LA Times: Michele Bachmann is worried about the Renaissance
15. Huffington Post: Senate Votes To Let Military Detain Americans Indefinitely 
16. FOX News: White House Condemns Possible Execution of Iranian Pastor
17. Huffington Post: Everything The Media Told You About Occupy Wall Street Is Wrong
18. FOX News: Usama Bin Laden Killed in Firefight With U.S. Special Ops Team in Pakistan
19. CNN: Arizona enacts funeral protest legislation
20. FOX: 'Occupy Wall Street' -- It's Not What They're for, But What They're Against
21. LA Times: Lara Logan breaks her silence on '60 Minutes'
22. The Blaze: Adam Carolla on Occupy Movement: '[Expletive] Self-Entitled Monsters'
23. MSNBC: In the ruins of Gadhafi's lair, rebels find album with photos of Condoleezza Rice
24. CNN: Soldier leaves a legacy much larger than 'he was gay.'
25. Slate: Pentagon's top secret cat warfare exposed
26. CNN: Middle class backlash at Occupy Wall Street protesters
27. Weekly Standard: Obama bans asthma inhalers over environmental concerns
28. Slate: Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever
29. Good Morning America: Obamas go shopping at Target
30. CNN: Who owns America? Hint: It's not China.
31. Huffington Post: UC Davis protesters arrested, pepper sprayed
32. FOX News: Should the American flag be banned in America?
33. Huffington Post: UC Davis police officer pepper sprays nonviolent protesters
34. LA Times: Arnold Schwarzenegger acknowledges paternity of child out of wedlock
35. MSNBC: U.S. Forces kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan
36. MSNBC Video: Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden from White House
37. CNN: Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden
38. Huffington Post: Lobbyists succeed in categorizing pizza as a vegetable in schools
39. MSNBC: Lobbying firm memo spells out plan to undermine Occupy Wall Street
40. Wall Street Journal: How to Tax the Rich


Facebook says LAX tops list of most 'social' airports

Facebook to launch its own political action committee

Facebook privacy policy becomes an issue in political attack ad

-- Andrea Chang

Photo: An Occupy Wall Street demonstrator in New York in November. Credit: Brendan McDermid / Reuters

President Obama's 2012 campaign joins Google+

Obama 2012 on Google+

President Obama's reelection campaign, Obama for America, has created a Google+ page, joining a few Republican rivals who are looking to reach voters on the growing social network.

"Welcome to the Obama 2012 Google+ page," a member of Obama's campaign staff posted on Google+ on Wednesday. "We're still kicking the tires and figuring this out, so let us know what you'd like to see here and your ideas for how we can use this space to help you stay connected to the campaign."

As pointed out by the website 9to5Google, Republican candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has used Google+ Hangout video chats to try and connect with voters.

Obama's campaign page has shared two other public posts -- one about the president's efforts to create jobs and another about a few supporters of the Democrat having dinner with the president.

By the early afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, no new posts since Day One. The campaign's social media staff might have the day off for a bit of turkey.

So far 5,350 people have given a +1 to Obama's 2012 page.


Google giving up on Wave, Knol and Friend Connect

Google+ continues battle with fading user interest, data say

Mysterious Google Earth images may be Chinese satellite targets

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screenshot of President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign's Google+ page. Credit: Obama For America/Google

Jerry Brown vetoes bill requiring warrant to search cellphones

Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have made it illegal for police to search a suspect's portable electronic devices during an arrest unless they had a court-issued warrant for the search.

Since he didn't sign that bill into law, California police remain clear to search suspects' cellphones, tablets and other mobile electronic gadgets in the event of an arrest.

Cellphones can aid law enforcement in their investigations, as they may contain a person's contact list, call logs, email and text messages, photos, videos and recent locations, among other personal data.

The measure, SB 914, was sponsored by the ACLU and written by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

"This measure would overturn a California Supreme Court decision that held that police officers can lawfully search the cellphones of people who they arrest," Brown said in a statement on why he shot down the bill. "The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections."

As noted by Wired magazine, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the California Supreme Court's stance on this issue last week.

As reported by The Times' Patrick McGreevy and Anthony York, Brown also approved or rejected more than 140 other bills Sunday. Among the legislation Brown signed into law was a ban on minors using tanning beds in California.


Apple reports more than 1 million iPhone 4S orders in 24 hours

California attorney general to join AT&T, T-Mobile antitrust suit

Back off opposition to AT&T merger, Democratic lawmakers tell Obama

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown in Belmont, Calif. Credit: Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Facebook to launch its own political action committee

President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg

Seeking to increase its influence in Washington, Facebook said Monday it was starting a political action committee to funnel employee contributions to federal candidates.

The move to create what will be called FB PAC is another indication of the company's political evolution as its dramatic growth creates a need to protect itself from government policies, such as potentially tough online privacy regulations.

Three top House Republicans were scheduled to appear at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., on Monday to take questions from employees and guests. President Obama did the same thing in April.

"FB PAC will give our employees a way to make their voice heard in the political process by supporting candidates who share our goals of promoting the value of innovation to our economy while giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected," said Andrew Noyes, Facebook's spokesman in Washington.

The formation of the PAC was first reported by the Hill, a Capitol Hill website and newspaper.

Facebook hired its first employee in Washington in 2007 and has been expanding its presence, so a PAC was a logical move. The company started lobbying in 2009 and spent $550,000 in the first half of 2011 lobbying federal officials. Facebook spent $351,390 in all of 2010 and $207,878 in 2009.

Corporations are not allowed to give money directly to candidates. But many companies form PACs, which are funded by voluntary employee contributions.

The PAC then makes contributions to political candidates. Companies often strategically hedge their bets by giving to key Democrats and Republicans on congressional committees that handle legislation covering their industry.

Google, for example, started a PAC in 2006 and contributed $336,000 to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Although its employees on their own have given overwhelmingly to Democrats, Google's PAC is more bipartisan -- 54% of the PAC's money in 2010 went to Democratic candidates, and 46% to Republicans.

Facebook employees have had a similar Democratic tilt. About 80% of the $50,470 contributed by Facebook employees to federal candidates in the 2010 cycle went to Democrats, the Center for Responsive Politics said.


Republican 'Young Guns' hit the Silicon Valley trail

With town hall, Obama-Facebook friendship continues

Facebook, already ubiquitous in Washington, aims to beef up its lobbying power

-- Jim Puzzanghera

Photo: President Obama and Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg during an event at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., in April. Credit: Reuters.

Google's Eric Schmidt to testify at September Senate hearing


We have a date: Google Chairman Eric Schmidt will face a U.S. Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing Sept. 21.

The hearing, held by the Senate's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights is officially called "The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?" and so far, the only witness announced is Schmidt, who will face questions regarding the Internet giant's dominating role in the online search market and search advertising.

The Senate announced the hearing's date and time Thursday.

Schmidt ended a 10-year run as Google's CEO in April, stepping aside for co-founder Larry Page.

Google is also dealing with an antitrust investigation conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, as well as questions from the Justice Department over its proposed purchase of AdMeld, an online advertising firm.

Google has previously said it will cooperate with federal regulators and investigators as they probe into its businesses.


Google says FTC is investigating its business

Google's social network Google+ hits 20 million visitors

Google's Eric Schmidt agrees to testify at Senate antitrust hearing

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: Google's Eric Schmidt at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January. Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Vice President Joe Biden joins Twitter


Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, is on Twitter.

Known for making the occasional hilarious gaffe in a speech from time to time, the microblogging platform that is Twitter introduces new possibilities for Biden to throw out a bit of straight talk directly to the world.

Which might be why Biden's staff at the office of the Vice President will be writing the majority if not all of tweets broadcast from the official account.

The White House announced Biden's foray into tweeting in a blog post Monday with a special Independence Day message from Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

From Biden's @VP  account:

VP&Dr. B hope you take time to think about our troops & military families this Independence Day, Happy July 4th from OVP! @JoiningForces

Biden joins Twitter ahead of President Obama's Twitter Town Hall, set for Wednesday at 11 a.m. PDT which will be hosted by Twitter Chairman Jack Dorsey and focus on jobs and the economy.

Users of the social networking service can ask Obama questions using the #AskObama hashtag.

Obama is also in the midst of prepping himself for what could be an intense reelection campaign in 2012.


Mark Zuckerberg may be the most followed person on Google+

FTC investigating Twitter's relationships with UberMedia, third-party app makers

Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone reunite in Internet incubator Obvious Corp. 

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Square adds former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to board


Square, the mobile payments start-up from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has added former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers to its board of directors.

Until late last year, Summers served as President Obama's chief economic advisor. He was also the president of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006 -- while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a student.

The San Francisco-based payments processor -- known for its small, white, cubed credit card readers that plug into the headphone jacks of smart phones and tablets in place of a register -- added an extra seat to its board for Summers.

"We are proud to have Larry join our board and we welcome his insight and decades of leadership to our growing company," Dorsey said in an emailed statement. "Square is at a key point in our trajectory and we know Larry will contribute tremendous wisdom and expertise toward our continued success."

Square announced the move on Wednesday morning. Summers was the Treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001, deputy secretary from 1995 to 1999 and a chief economist at the World Bank from 1991 to 1993.

Summers is also known for a 2005 speech, made while he was Harvard's president, in which he said, according to a Boston Globe article on the remarks: "Innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers." He also questioned "how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities." Summers later apologized for the comments.

The addition of Summers to Square's board follows the addition of  Vinod Khosla as a director earlier this month, as well as an investment from Visa in April. Khosla, a longtime Square investor, runs his own venture capital firm and was one of the founders of Sun Microsystems.

The addition of Summers and Khlosa comes at an important time for Square. The company has shipped out more than 500,000 of its Square card readers, while ringing up more than $3 million worth of mobile payments a day.

Square is also pushing its new Card Case mobile wallet service, which has a deep-pocket challenger in Google's Google Wallet.


Mobile payment firm Square adds Silicon Valley vet Vinod Khosla to board

Jack Dorsey's Square lands strategic investment from credit card giant Visa

Jack Dorsey's mobile payments company Square unveils new checkout features

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers accepts the World Economy Prize in Kiel, Germany, on June 18. Credit: Markus Scholz / EPA

Google puts the brakes on Street View in India after police complaints


Google has halted its Street View cars in Bangalore, India, after receiving police complaints about the company's 360-degree photo-snapping in the city.

According to Bangalore's Deccan Herald newspaper, Google received a letter from the city's police commissioner asking the search giant to park the camera-topped cars and tricycles, which take photos used in Google Maps Street View and the Google Earth app.

"We can confirm that we have received a letter from the commissioner of police regarding Street View," Google said in a statement sent to the Deccan Herald. "We are currently reviewing it and have stopped our cars until we have a chance to answer any questions or concerns the police have."

Google officials were unavailable to comment to the Technology blog on Tuesday morning. But in the past, the company has said that it plans to document India's other major cities with Street View cars after the mapping of Bangalore was complete, the Deccan Herald said.

The tech titan began its Street View efforts in Bangalore, home to some Indian military sites, in late May.

Google is working on finding a balance between its users' needs and governmental security concerns, said Vinay Goel, the company's head of products in India, according to the report.

"We recognize the sensitivity associated with certain locations and are committed to working with relevant stake holders to ensure that their concerns are addressed," Goel told the paper.


Some in Israel warn against Google Street View

Google Street View goes off-road with tricycle to snap more photos

Google Street View must obscure faces and license plates in Switzerland

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photo: Google India Street View cars and tricycle. Credit: Google


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