Chinese investors have helped drive up the price of Bitcoin to dizzying heights. Now, the Beijing government is doing its best to drive enthusiasm for the cryto-currency back down.
The Chinese central bank warned consumers about the risks of Bitcoin and banned Chinese banks from trading the digital currency. The bank said that Chinese people could still invest in the currency, but they do so at their own risk.
Chinese regulators are the latest to issue rules for Bitcoin, as governments around the world struggle to come to terms with the anonymously-created currency's role. Authorities are stepping in to warn investors as the currency's meteoric rise in value has attracted more and more speculators and to crackdown on the illicit uses of the currency in online black markets such as Silk Road.
The announcement comes as the value of the currency has skyrocketed over the past month peaking at over $1200, according to popular Bitcoin trading site Mt. Gox. It's unclear yet what the ramifications of the announcement will be on that price, or whether traders' interest in Bitcoin will be dampened by the announcement. Some news reports Thursday pointed to the falling value of the currency as proof that investors are scared-off by China's move. Though the value was dropping at last look, Bitcoin is too volatile to attribute the drop to China's crackdown.
Forget the Snowden leaks, the birth of Prince George, and the Syria chemical weapons deal -- 2013 shall be remembered as the year of the first Papal selfie. Following in the pioneering footsteps of Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, and even Michelle Obama, Pope Francis went this year where no pope has gone before: in front of an iPhone held aloft by a smiling teenager.
So it's probably not surprising that selfie is the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Usage of the term increased by 17,000 percent since last year, according to Oxford Dictionaries editors, driven by both social and mainstream media use. Selfie beat out bitcoin, binge-watch, and even twerk for the distinction.
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Bitcoin's representatives are appearing before Congress this week for a first-ever series of hearings into the crypto-currency. And they've got a message for the array of D.C. lawmakers and regulators looking to tame Bitcoin: If the government's attempts to oversee the digital currency are too harsh or intrusive, Bitcoin users easily could go offshore or underground -- and then no one in Washington will be able to control what they do.
"Incautious behavior on the part of governments and law enforcement could make the Bitcoin environment harder to work with," Bitcoin Foundation General Counsel Patrick Murck said in testimony prepared for Monday's Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing -- the first of two hearings on virtual currencies this week.
Lawmakers are looking into what, if anything, to do about Bitcoin as its role in legal finance grows and yet remains ill-defined. Bitcoin's steep, volatile rise to over $500 on Sunday is attracting high-profile investors, while at the same time the Bitcoin system is still plagued with theft and fraud, and it remains the payment method of choice for shoppers on internet black markets. Federal and state regulators have put out some guidelines for digital currencies, but a consolidated government approach is not yet clear.
While Washington has assembled its alphabet soup of federal agencies into several different task forces to contemplate Bitcoin, New York's top financial regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, has been sending out subpoenas. New York's Department of Financial Services sent them to 22 Bitcoin businesses in August requesting information about their activities to see if they were complying with existing regulations and whether more rules were needed.
Now, Lawksy's looking into issuing a "BitLicense" for digital currency businesses, which would require them to comply with further regulation. The Department of Financial Services hasn't made any final decisions, he said Thursday, but would look into to the idea of a license at yet another public hearing "in coming months."
"If virtual currencies remain a virtual Wild West for narcotraffickers and other criminals, that would not only threaten our country's national security, but also the very existence of the virtual currency industry as a legitimate business enterprise," he said in a statement when he first announced the inquiry in August.
Murck, the Bitcoin Foundation's envoy for Monday's hearing in Washington, said Lawsky's statements are "irresponsible" and his actions show an "early antipathy to Bitcoin" that could push the fledgling industry overseas to seek more hospitable regulatory environments.
Murck further warned that law enforcement shouldn't abuse Bitcoin's open ledger, where all transactions are recorded. The ledger is part of the original Bitcoin system created almost five years ago by someone (or several people) going by the name "Satoshi Nakamoto," whose real identity is still unknown. The collectively-kept ledger records when Bitcoins change hands, in order to keep someone from spending the same coin twice, and also when new Bitcoins are created or "mined," by using computers to solve complex mathematical problems.
Sarah Meiklejohn, a PhD student at the University of California San Diego, recently demonstrated that the communal ledger or "block chain" could be used to trace suspect transactions. That means authorities can use the block chain to track down alleged criminal activity, if they can compel companies that facilitate Bitcoin transactions to give them information about their customers. But if the government goes too far and uses the ledger "for excessive or illegitimate surveillance of private financial activity," Murck said users may take further steps to hide their activity and protect their privacy by employing "mixing services, which are intended to obscure the source of their users' bitcoins."
Representatives from the Justice Department and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children also said the possibility of Bitcoin companies moving offshore would make it harder for U.S. authorities to find and prosecute illegal activity.
Digital currency transactions still represent a very small part of the overall economy, but it's becoming an increasingly popular place for criminals, according to Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
"While much of the evidence is still anecdotal, there is consensus that commercial child pornography, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking and other criminal enterprises are increasingly moving to a new unregulated, unbanked digital economy," Allen said in testimony prepared for Monday.
It's hard to know how much of the Bitcoin economy is made up of the (shudder-inducing) criminal activity Allen refers to and how much is legal, but the answer could affect the viability of U.S.-based Bitcoin companies. If the U.S. government continues on the path to crack down on internet black markets and make digital currencies more transparent, it's not clear whether users will flock to the ostensibly safer environment or stick to the already popular exchanges in less-regulated countries.
Twitter shares hit a high of $50 on Thursday in its first day of trading. It's a sizable opening-day pop, given that the initial public offering price was initially marked at somewhere near half of that. The opening generated a lot of buzz among investors, in large part because, despite having yet to turn a profit, the micromessaging site has a staggering global reach. There are more than 230 million tweeters worldwide, and more than three-quarters of them are outside the United States. But perhaps the surest sign of Twitter's worldwide popularity is the number of knockoffs -- sometimes subtle, sometimes outrageous -- that it has inspired across the globe. Below, we bring you some of the best that, unfortunately, never made it to their own public debut. Here are the top five foreign Twitter clone fails.
Futubra. There was considerable hype over "Russia's Twitter," Futubra, which was launched in early 2012 by Mail.ru, the multibillion-dollar Russian company behind several successful Russian social networking sites. In a farewell note published on its website, the developers explained that their improvements weren't enough for "sustained growth of the project" -- a mere 11 months after its initial launch. The failure of a Twitter copycat might have been somewhat of a surprise given the comparative success of the Russian-language VKontakte, a Facebook rip-off that has a consistently top position among Russian networking sites. In an interview with Roem in December 2012, Mail.ru chairman and CEO Dmitriy Grishin conceded that the experiment, while "interesting," "went differently than planned."
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India's space scientists must be tired, by now, of defending their cosmic ambitions. Though the nation has made a valiant effort to recast itself as a pioneer of space exploration in recent years, it can't seem to get around criticisms of how it spends its money.
The concerns, which India's space agency has often addressed but to no one's satisfaction, is newly relevant in the lead-up to its first Mars mission. As the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) prepares to launch a spacecraft bound for the red planet on Tuesday, many are wondering: How does a country with one of the lowest development levels in the world justify spending on a space program? Most assume that India's space program is fueled by competition with China's, and that India's dream of becoming the first Asian nation to the reach the red planet has more to do with establishing regional dominance than with scientific inquiry.
There may be something to that argument, given that the goal of this Mars-bound spacecraft is to orbit the planet in search of methane -- the presence of which would indicate potential for life. It would be a worthwhile scientific endeavor, if NASA's Curiosity rover hadn't already accomplished it.
Given the perceived redundancy of the mission, many have wondered whether the government should divert funding from its space programs to human development efforts.
A Guardian article about Japanese young people no longer being interested in sex and relationships has generated a lot of blogosphere criticism over the past week and a half, primarily about Western media exoticizing "weird" Japanese culture. Those criticisms duly noted, there have also been some recent Japanese innovations that seem to not only support the premise of the article -- that technology is taking over the space once occupied by sex and dating -- but take it further. Several recent inventions in Japan seem not only likely to disrupt traditional relationships in the way that social media or text messaging has, but to physically replace companionship and affection. Today's report of the physiological benefits of using the Hugvie, a soft doll that simulates a human heartbeat so that the user can "cuddle" with the person on the other end of their phone, is one such case.
Below are some Japanese inventions, like the Hugvie, that may be the most solid proof that Japan is indeed throwing out the idea of relationships and becoming a dystopian future of human loneliness.
The Hugvie is a soft body-fitting pillow with a slot in the head for a smart phone. Users can cuddle with the pillow while talking on the phone, and the pillow's internal vibrators generate a simulated heartbeat of the caller based on the voice's tone and volume. In other words, the soft, "blobular" doll transforms a standard phone conversation into a "cuddling" experience with your phone companion. The gizmo was invented by an Osaka University professor who built off of an earlier remote-controlled doll.
A video from the product's launch last year shows users talking into the phone end and cradling their pillows, and new evidence suggests that the pillow might be as satisfying and soul-warming as the video portrays: a joint study from the University of Sussex and Osaka University that levels of the stress hormone cortisol were reduced in people after using the pillow.
Wine for Cats
Earlier this month, a Japanese company took the age-old stereotype of the lonely cat woman and made it a little less lonely with the invention of Nyan Nyan Nouveau, a non-alcoholic feline wine. Masahito Tsurimi, the chief executive of the company behind the wine, told the Wall Street Journal that it was invented in response to requests from cat-owners -- despite the fact that only one in 10 cats were willing to taste it.
Tsurimi said he saw a bright future in the "specialty pet-drink business" six years ago when he was worried about where future beverage sales would come from with a shrinking, aging Japanese population. It was probably just a nice bonus when he read about the country's sexual aversion and social awkwardness on top of that.
The Girlfriend Coat
In April of this year, RocketNews 24 reported that a group of engineering students at Tsukuba University created a coat that could hug its wearer and whisper phrases into its ear. Meant to simulate a girlfriend, motors in the coat operate the "arms" that squeeze the wearer when he puts it on. In a pair of headphones he slips on with the coat, he also hears one of a number of programmed phrases: "I'm sorry, were you waiting?" and "Guess who?"
The university students named it the Riajyuu Coat. According to gaming site Kotaku, riajyuu is a mash-up Japanese word that means someone who is pleased with his non-virtual life. Unlike some of the other replacements for human contact, this one appears to have just been a joke between friends, and the inventors have no real plans to release it commercially.
Video Game Relationships
Japan has cultivated a global reputation for their romantic simulation video games, and for good reason: while some of the games are just bizarre, like a game in which both the player and his mate are pigeons, others mimic relationships down to eerily small details. LovePlus+, for instance, a dating simulation game released in Japan in 2009, invites players to choose one girl that they prefer out of three types -- a "goodie-goodie," "sassy," or "big-sister" type -- and then earn "boyfriend power" points by going to the gym or doing homework to become smarter. The girl can get mad at their boyfriends, too: in a 2010 article, LovePlus+ gamer Shunsuke Kato told the Wall Street Journal he was on the outs with his LovePlus+ "girlfriend" for being busy at work and only playing the game for ten minutes a day.
The game has blurred the line between real and virtual to such an extent that a Japanese resort town once known for honeymooning, Atami, launched a promotional campaign in 2010 that relied on recreating the virtual trip to Atami from the game. At Atami's (real) Hotel Ohnoya, the staff was trained to check in single men as couples, and restaurants created Love Plus+-inspired menus for the gaming guests.
If there's some silver lining to be found in all of this, it's that a business opportunity will be there to pad the landing when humans do something self-destructive. As Japan has demonstrated, the risk of a plummeting birth rate and the social instability inherent in becoming a society where unmarried people exist in large numbers at least opens up the possibility for bizarre romance-gamer tourism, wine for cats, and pillows you can cuddle with. It appears that the patterns of coupling off and forming small units, once thought of as a naturally occurring constant, can only be outlasted by the other constant of economic self-interest. On second thought, maybe it's not such a silver lining after all.
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The Letter from Birmingham Jail it is not. Since September, former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving out a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses in the 1990s, has been engaged in a particularly rare form of opposition politics, tweeting out political commentary to his now-10,000 followers from behind bars.
Last month, the Twitter account -- along with an accompanying Facebook page -- launched with an inaugural YouTube message and photo montage of Fujimori, along with a written message to his queridos amigos announcing that he would be sharing his thoughts and memoirs on social media, and that "some young people and close collaborators" would be administering the accounts:
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Sure, it's not all that surprising that Google and Facebook are the most visited websites in almost every country. But what's more interesting is where they're not. Using public data from the web traffic service Alexa, the Oxford Internet Institute's Information Geographies blog has mapped the most popular websites by country (the colonial-style map above is entitled, "Age of Internet Empires"). And while researchers found that Google and Facebook reigned supreme among Internet users across the globe, there were some notable exceptions.
The al-Watan Voice newspaper, for instance, is the most visited site in the Palestinian territories, while a Russian email service, Mail.ru, dominates in Kazakhstan. Japan and Taiwan are Yahoo!'s last bastions, and in Russia the search engine Yandex tops the list. There are also blind spots in the survey; Alexa lacks information on countries with small Internet populations, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa.
China is a particularly interesting case: The Chinese search engine Baidu is the most visited website in the country, but its success may be engineered in part by the government. As the speculation goes -- and some evidence suggests -- Chinese officials have colluded with local business interests to limit Google's share of the market in favor of Baidu and other companies (cases have been reported of Chinese users visiting Google, only to be mysteriously redirected to Baidu, though Baidu denies that the government is giving it a leg up on the competition). Today, Baidu controls around 80 percent of the Chinese search market and, according to Alexa data that the Oxford researchers question, recently became the market leader in South Korea as well (Google left mainland China in 2010, but still runs a Hong Kong-based portal). The countries below are sized based on the size of their Internet populations (click to expand the map):
But don't doubt Google's supremacy just yet. Not only is Google the top site in 62 countries of the 120 countries tracked, but the researchers note that "among the 50 countries that have Facebook listed as the most visited visited website, 36 of them have Google as the second most visited, and the remaining 14 countries list YouTube (currently owned by Google)."
It makes you wonder: Just what are the implications of so few companies controlling worldwide access to so much information?
It was the Amazon.com of the illegal drug trade. An online black market in which cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and LSD were bought and sold by anonymous customers and dealers, using untraceable digital currency. U.S. authorities called it "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet..." And today, they announced they've taken it down.
In a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that the online market Silk Road has been wiped off the Internet and its profits seized. Since its inception in 2011, Silk Road has been the bane of federal drug enforcement agents, who knew full well what the illicit marketplace was selling but were largely powerless to do anything about it. As of last month, there were more than 13,000 listings for illegal drugs of all varieties on Silk Road, the government said in its complaint.
Silk Road, which operates through an extensive network of routers that lets users remain anonymous, enabled several thousand dealers to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illicit substances, as well as other illegal goods and services, to more than a 100,000 buyers, federal prosecutors allege.
The site, which also sold hacker services and even advertised murder for hire, obscured transactions by requiring they be conducted in Bitcoin, an electronic currency "designed to be as anonymous as cash," prosecutors charge.
The marketplace was a well-known, if not widely visited, corner of the so-called Deep Web, a part of the World Wide Web that is not indexed by search engines. Visitors to the Deep Web have to know what they're looking for and cannot find their way to its sites through traditional means, such as Google searches.
Silk Road "has sought to make conducting illegal transactions on the Internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites," prosecutors allege.
Silk Road was designed to let its customers remain anonymous in two ways. The first was by using the Tor router network, which makes it practically impossible to locate computers that are hosting or accessing websites on the network.
The second form of anonymity came from Bitcoins. The electronic currency has been a favored means for procuring illegal goods and services online, because Bitcoins can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trace to their owners. There is no central bank that generates Bitcoins or regulates their use. People can buy and sell Bitcoins through exchanges set up by independent parties.
Skeptics of Bitcoin say its value fluctuates too wildly to be a useful currency and that its greatest value is to criminals and black market buyers. But proponents say Bitcoins have the potential to revolutionize commerce by making it easier for customers to make purchases and vendors to get paid. A small but growing number of individual vendors, nonprofit organizations, and companies accept Bitcoin.
The government has seized 26,000 Bitcoins from Silk Road, which it estimates are worth approximately $3.6 million. This would constitute the largest-ever seizure of Bitcoins, prosecutors say.
Silk Road has allegedly generated sales totaling more than 9.5 million Bitcoins and has collected commissions totaling more than 600,000 Bitcoins. The value of the currency has varied during Silk Road's operations, but the government believes those transactions equate to approximately $1.2 billion in sales and $80 million in commissions for Silk Road.
The FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht, aka "Dread Pirate Roberts," in San Francisco yesterday and accused him of overseeing Silk Road's operations since their inception. Ulbricht "has controlled the massive profits generated from the operations of the business," prosecutors allege, adding that he "has always been aware of the illegal nature of his enterprise."
Ulbricht is charged with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. He was expected to appear in court Tuesday morning.
Ulbricht is accused of engaging in a "massive money laundering operation, through which hundreds of millions of dollars derived from unlawful transactions have been laundered," according to the government's complaint.
In arresting Ulbricht, the feds have nabbed the poster boy of online black markets. But if history is any guide, some ambitious entrepreneur will try to take Ulbricht's place, and buyers will beat another silk road to his door.
The tentative $4.7 billion deal to take BlackBerry private may have only been announced on Monday, but for many Americans it was a long time coming. In the United States and Western Europe, Apple's iPhone and Google's Android have come to dominate the smartphone market, while Blackberry has been lapping up less than 2 percent of the American market and has seen its share European markets decline steadily over the years. But there are some corners of the world where BlackBerry's fall may come as more of a shock -- particularly in the emerging economies of Southeast Asia, where BlackBerry has its strongest market presence, or in the several African and Latin American nations where it remains the top smartphone. Here are some of the countries where the BlackBerry still enjoys superstar status.
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The National Security Agency says that the telephone metadata it collects on every American is essential for finding terrorists. And that's debatable. But this we know for sure: Metadata is very useful for tracking journalists and discovering their sources.
On Monday, a former FBI agent and bomb technician pleaded guilty to leaking classified information to the Associated Press about a successful CIA operation in Yemen. As it turns out, phone metadata was the key to finding him.
The prosecution of the former agent, Donald Sachtleben, brings the number of leaks prosecutions under the Obama administration to eight, nearly three times the number prosecuted under all previous administrations. What's driving this record-breaking prosecution of leakers? Is it that this president especially despises loose talk with reporters and the time-worn culture of Washington backstabbing that they represent?
Not likely. The real reason the government is going after leakers is because it can. Investigators today have greater access to phone records and e-mails than they did before Obama took office, allowing them to follow digital data trails straight to the source.
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Area 51 is a touchstone of America's cultural mythology. It rose to notoriety in 1989, when a Las Vegas man claimed he had worked at the secret facility to discover the secrets of crashed alien hardware, spawning two decades of conspiracy theories and speculation about little green men. But the facility's history -- and the history of the strange, secret aircraft that were developed there -- extends back to 1955. Since its inception, the government has obliquely acknowledged its existence only a handful of times, and even the CIA's 1996 declassified history of the OXCART program -- the development of the SR-71 Blackbird at the secret site -- refers only to tests conducted in "the Nevada desert." The government has never publicly discussed the specific facility ... until now.
On Thursday, the National Security Archive reported that it had gotten its hands on a newly declassified CIA history of the development of the U-2 spy plane. The report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, contains the CIA's secret record of how Area 51 came to be.
National Security Archive
A new global survey from the Pew Research Center has revealed a striking difference of opinion along gender lines. The issue? Drone strikes.
"It's one of the most extreme gender differences we've ever seen [on an issue]," Bruce Stokes, Director of the Global Economic Program at the Pew Research Center, told Foreign Policy.
In 31 out of 39 countries surveyed, at least half of respondents disapprove of U.S. drone strikes "targeting extremists in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia." When looking at the gender break down, double-digit gaps were found in many countries with the highest gap in Japan where 41 percent of men approve of U.S. drone strikes while only 10 percent of women do. (The gender divide grew in Japan this year -- last year 32 percent of men approved while only 11 percent of women did.)
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Looks like the Luddites at Russia's Federal Guard Service are headed back to the pre-digital age. The agency, which guards Russian officials -- the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Secret Service -- is placing an order for typewriters, according to Russian newspapers Izvestia and the Moscow Times. The reason? Information security.
"After the scandal with the circulation of classified documents by Wikileaks, the revelations made by Edward Snowden and reports that [Prime Minister] Dmitry Medvedev's phone was tapped during his visit to the G-20 summit in London, it has been decided to expand the use of paper documents," a Russian official reportedly told Izvestia.
As Egypt's political crisis has swelled in recent days, key actors ranging from ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsy to the opposition Tamarod movement have taken to Twitter to stake out their positions in the conflict. Now, a team of researchers is mining hashtags on the microblogging service to monitor those very tensions.
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President Barack Obama generated a feel-good photo-op on Tuesday in Tanzania when he took a few moments to play with the Soccket, an ingenious soccer ball that can power an LED light for three hours after you kick it around for 30 minutes. Simply play with the ball, and then plug the light into the Soccket's socket.
After some good-natured showboating (he headed the ball), Obama explained, "The Soccket turns one of the most popular games in Africa into a source of electricity and progress. You can imagine this in villages all across the continent."
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Sure, Edward Snowden's non-flight to Cuba, whereabouts in Russia, and request for asylum in Ecuador are getting most of the attention today. But amid all the hubbub, Monday's news also brought us this small but intriguing detail from a New York Times story on how Snowden planned his exit from Hong Kong over a "cloak-and-dagger" pizza dinner.
Samuel Johnson once said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Patriotism, and bad analogies.
For the uninitiated, Godwin's Law is one of the cardinal rules of the Internet. Coined in 1990 by Internet law expert Mike Godwin, the principle -- confirmed by countless contentious comment threads across the web -- is that the longer an online discussion persists, the greater the odds become that someone will make a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler, to the point of near-inevitability. Nothing ends a debate faster than the hyperbolic unsupported counterfactual: "You know who else did [INSERT SUBJECT OF ARGUMENT HERE]? Hitler!"
But Hitler and the Nazis aren't the only recurring straw men used to end debates. Over the past 12 years, it's become clear that the longer a national security debate persists, the more likely it becomes that someone will try to end it by suggesting something -- some policy, some person, some technology -- "could have prevented 9/11."
The implication is that if something "could have prevented 9/11," then it must be justified. It's a trump card, a conversation-ender -- and it's impossible to prove. But that hasn't stopped people from using it -- from FBI Director Robert Mueller testifying on the Hill on Thursday to actor Mark Wahlberg's 2012 tough-guy claims. Here's a brief sampling of the people and policies that "could have prevented 9/11."
Assessments of the 9/11 attacks -- by everyone from members of the independent 9/11 Commission to Bush administration officials -- have time and again pointed out that there was no single point of failure that allowed the attacks to occur, and no "silver bullet" that could have prevented them. But acknowledging that is no way to cut short a debate about national security.
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Forget PRISM, the National Security Agency's system to help extract data from Google, Facebook, and the like. The more frightening secret program unearthed by the NSA leaks is the gathering and storing of millions of phone records and phone-location information of U.S. citizens.
According to current and former intelligence agency employees who have used the huge collection of metadata obtained from the country's largest telecom carriers, the information is widely available across the intelligence community from analysts' desktop computers.
The data is used to connect known or suspected terrorists to people in the United States, and to help locate them. It has also been used in foreign criminal investigations and to assist military forces overseas. But the laws that govern the collection of this information and its use are not as clear. Nor are they as strong as those associated with PRISM, the system the NSA is using to collate information from the servers of America's tech giants.
Metadata is not protected by the Fourth Amendment. Content of emails and instant messages -- what PRISM helps gather -- is. An order issued to Verizon by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court instructs the company to supply records of all its telephony metadata "on an ongoing, daily basis." Although legal experts say this kind of broad collection of metadata may be legal, it's also "remarkably overbroad and quite likely unwise," according to Paul Rosenzweig, a Bush administration policy official in the Homeland Security Department. "It is difficult to imagine a set of facts that would justify collecting all telephony meta-data in America. While we do live in a changed world after 9/11, one would hope it has not that much changed."
By comparison, PRISM appears more tightly constrained and operates on a more solid legal foundation. Current and former officials who have experience using huge sets of data available to intelligence analysts said that PRISM is used for precisely the kinds of intelligence gathering that Congress and the administration intended when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 2008. Officials wanted to allow intelligence agencies to target and intercept foreigners' communications when they travel across networks inside the United States.
The surveillance law prohibits targeting a U.S. citizen or legal resident without a warrant, which must establish a reasonable basis to suspect the individual of ties to terrorism or being an agent of a foreign power. In defending PRISM, administration officials have said repeatedly in recent days that the FISA Court oversees the collection program to ensure that it's reasonably designed to target foreign entities, and that any incidental collection of Americans' data is expunged. They've also said that press reports describing the system as allowing "direct access" to corporate servers is wrong. Separately, a U.S. intelligence official also said that the system cannot directly query an Internet company's data.
But the administration has not explained why broadly and indiscriminately collecting the metadata records of millions of U.S. citizens and legal residents comports with a law designed to protect innocent people from having their personal information revealed to intelligence analysts. Nor have officials explained why the NSA needs ongoing, daily access to all this information and for so many years, particularly since specific information can be obtained on an as-needed basis from the companies with a subpoena.
Here's why the metadata of phone records could be more invasive and a bigger threat to privacy and civil liberties than the PRISM system:
1. Metadata is often more revealing than contents of a communication, which is what's being collected with PRISM. A study in the journal Nature found that as few as four "spatio-temporal points," such as the location and time a phone call was placed, is enough to determine the identity of the caller 95 percent of the time.
2. The Wall Street Journal reports that in addition to phone metadata, the NSA also is collecting metadata on emails, website visits, and credit card transactions (although it's unclear whether those collection efforts are ongoing). If that information were combined with the phone metadata, the collective power could not only reveal someone's identity, but also provide an illustration of his entire social network, his financial transactions, and his movements.
3. Administration officials have said that intelligence analysts aren't indiscriminately searching this phone metadata. According to two intelligence employees who've used the data in counterterrorism investigations, it contains no names, and when a number that appears to be based in the United States shows up, it is blocked out with an "X" mark.
But these controls, said a former intelligence employee, are internal agency rules, and it's not clear that the FISA Court has anything to say about them. In this employee's experience, if he wanted to see the phone number associated with that X mark, he had to ask permission from his agency's general counsel. That permission was often obtained, but he wasn't aware of the legal process involved in securing it, or if the request was taken back to the FISA court.
4. The metadatabase is widely available across the intelligence community on analysts' desktops, increasing the potential for misuse.
5. The metadata has the potential for mission creep. It's not only used for dissecting potential homegrown terror plots, as some lawmakers have said. The metadata is also used to help military forces overseas target terrorist and insurgent networks. And it is used in foreign criminal investigations, including ones involving suspected weapons traffickers.
For all these reasons, and probably more yet to emerge, it's the metadata that's of bigger concern. By comparison, PRISM is a cool name, a lame PowerPoint presentation -- and business as usual.
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According to an explosive report in the Guardian on Wednesday, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been granted wide-ranging access to the call records of Verizon business customers. Under the arrangement described in court documents obtained by the Guardian, Verizon is required to hand over phone records for all calls made within the United States and calls originating domestically and reaching an international number. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- better known by its acronym, FISA -- also ordered Verizon to hand over extensive metadata for the phone calls.
But what exactly is telephone metadata, and what is it good for?
First, have a look at the relevant section of the court order that describes what Verizon is required to provide the NSA:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, the Custodian of Records shall produce to the National Security Agency (NSA) upon service of this Order, and continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this Order, unless otherwise ordered by the Court, an electronic copy of the following tangible things: all call detail records or "telephony metadata" created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls. This Order does not require Verizon to produce telephony metadata for communications wholly originating and terminating in foreign countries. Telephony metadata includes comprehensive communications routing information, including but not limited to session identifying information (e.g., originating and terminating telephone number, International Mobile Subscriber Identity(IMSI) number, International Mobile station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, etc., trunk identifier, telephone calling card numbers, and time and duration of call. Telephone metadata does not include the substantive content of any communication as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 2510(8), or the name, address, or financial information of a subscriber or customer.
Some of what the NSA is receiving is fairly straightforward. "Originating and terminating telephone number" is exactly what it sounds like, as is "time and duration of call." But some of the other information is far more cryptic. Here's what you need to know about the information the government is empowered to collect, according to this FISA court order.
(Many thanks to Allan A. Friedman, a technology expert at Brookings, for helping make sense of these various categories.)
Comprehensive communications routing information
The phrase "comprehensive communications routing information" is a catch-all term for the kinds of information the court empowered the NSA to collect. The term itself does not describe specific data and is fairly broad in terms of what it can include.
According to Friedman, it might include, for example, data tracking how a cell phone user moves from one cell phone tower to another while traveling -- information that would obviously be useful for tracking the whereabouts of an individual. Interestingly, such data is not specifically named in the court order, and it's unclear if Verizon provided that data to the NSA.
International Mobile Subscriber Identity [IMSI] number
The IMSI number is a system through which an individual user is tied to a phone. According to Friedman, the system was conceived as a way of facilitating billing for mobile users, essentially giving cell phone comapnies the ability to track customers through identifying codes.
Having the number itself does not provide the NSA with the identity of an individual cell phone user -- but it would make it easier for the agency to determine a user's identity. Unless the NSA managed to get its hands on that information through clandestine channels, it would probably have to return to court to obtain the information.
The IMSI number also provides important geographic information on the user. The first part of the typically 15-digit number identifies the network operator of a specific country, providing the NSA a handy shorthand guide to a user's location.
International Mobile station Equipment Identity [IMEI] number
Whereas the IMSI number ties a user to a phone, the IMEI number is merely used to identify an individual phone. It is typically found in the battery compartment of a phone and, according to Friedman, is a system that was put in place in order to prevent cell phone "spoofing" -- or the practice of cloning one phone to imitate another. When one phone begins broadcasting using the same IMEI number as another, a network can detect a spoof.
For the purposes of the NSA, the number is extremely useful in tracking individual pieces of equipment.
The trunk identifier provides additional data on how a call is routed through a telephone system and where it originated. In a landline system, for example, the trunk identifier can be used to identify the regional center through which a call is routed.
It's a number that provides the NSA with an additional geographic data point on the calls they track.
Telephone calling card numbers
A useful method for preventing calls from being tracked to a specific number, telephone calling cards can be used to mask the origins of a phone call. If for example, I were to call you from Foreign Policy headquarters using a calling card number, my call would not come up as originating from FP but rather from the number associated with the card.
By collecting calling card numbers, Friedman explained, the NSA can at least begin to track the use of such numbers across different phones. This approach is, of course, easily counteracted by using different calling cards, but it allows the NSA to build up a network from which it can mine the information it seeks. If a person, for example, receives 10,000 calls from various calling cards, that would probably result in an automatic red flag in the NSA's system.
The FISA court order contains a mysterious "etc." in its designation of the type of data Verizon is required to hand over to the NSA. Does that mean that the NSA is empowered to collect additional information not specified by the FISA court? We don't know. Could the NSA perhaps be empowered to also collect what mobile phone users browse and download on the Internet under the authority of an "etc."?
It sounds unlikely, but, hey, so does the fact that Verizon would be required to hand over comprehensive call records.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Google's autocomplete algorithm doesn't just enable users to save precious seconds of typing by predictavely filling in the rest of the search. It's also, apparently, the subject of contentious legal cases the world over. The latest example: On Wednesday, a German federal court ruled that libelous autocompletes are a violation of privacy.
As the BBC reports, the case was brought by a businessman (fittingly, he remains unnamed) who was frustrated by the fact that Google.de autocompleted searches of him with "scientology" and "fraud." This week's ruling -- which overturned two previous decisions in favor of Google -- called on the search giant to make changes to its autocomplete function when made aware of an "unlawful violation."
And this is far from an isolated case. The BBC goes on to report:
The ruling could also have a bearing on another case involving auto-complete. Bettina Wulff, wife of former German president Christian Wulff, sued Google because auto-complete suggested words linking her to escort services. Mrs Wulff denies ever working as a prostitute and has fought several legal cases over the accusation. The case against Google is due to be heard soon in a Hamburg court.
The technology blog Techdirt, which snarkily claims to have a "suing-algorithms-for-fun-and-profit! dept" brought us another story last year of an Australian surgeon named Guy Hingston who sued Google for defaming him by implying that he's not doing so well financially. The search:
But as TechDirt pointed out, Hingston may be shooting himself in the foot. His case, in attracting media attention, has made it all the more likely that "bankrupt" will appear next to his name in a search.
In 2012, ZDNet wrote about a Hong Kong tycoon who sued Google for similar reasons. As ZDNet noted, "Whether Yeung's name is input into Google Search in English or Chinese, a drop-down option for the search term plus 'triad' [the name for China's organized crime organizations] appears -- a connotation which is unlikely to make the tycoon happy."
And individuals aren't the only parties bringing autocomplete-related lawsuits. In 2012, an anti-discrimination group in France, SOS Racisme, sued Google for discriminatory autocompletes -- in this particular instance, linking "Jew" or "Jewish" with searches for people who aren't Jewish like Rupert Murdoch. Go figure.
With so many loose associations on Google, does it really make sense to hold the company accountable for each one? After all, you could argue that everything from women to countless countries to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have been defamed by autocomplete. Google, for its part, claims little responsibility. Their defense: the algorithm works by filling in blanks based on the frequency of our searches. In other words, we're all kind of slandering each other.
Screenshot [h/t Telegraph Online]
Paul Hansen's image of a funeral procession in a Gazan alleyway on Nov. 20, 2012 is undeniably striking. Two men, their faces warped with grief and anger, carry the shrouded bodies of their young nieces, killed in an Israeli missile strike, while a crowd of men follow behind them. When it was selected as the winner of the 2013 World Press Photo contest in February, the chairman of the contest jury, Associated Press Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon, praised the photograph's "incredible collection of powerful motifs of imagery, that when it all comes together makes for a really strong photograph."
But was it real? And what does that mean at a time when photo software can aid in collecting the very motifs that made the image so remarkable?
On Monday, British tech writer Sebastian Anthony claimed on the blog ExtremeTech that the photograph isn't really a photo at all; according to image analyst Neal Krawetz, it's three photos that were enhanced and stitched together using Photoshop. The proof is in the code, Krawetz argues, which contains a record of the composition. Applying other filters and tools to the image, he writes, shows evidence of additional manipulation including image sharpening and brightening. "Basically," Anthony argues, "Hansen took a series of photos -- and then later, realizing that his most dramatically situated photo was too dark and shadowy, decided to splice a bunch of images together and apply a liberal amount of dodging (brightening) to the shadowy regions."
Hansen, for his part, told news.com.au today that the allegations just aren't true. "In the post-process toning and balancing of the uneven light in the alleyway, I developed the raw file with different density to use the natural light instead of dodging and burning," the Swedish photographer explained. "In effect to recreate what the eye sees and get a larger dynamic range."
As I understand it, Hansen is arguing that his mild image manipulation is the digital equivalent of under- or over-developing select portions of the image in a darkroom. No fancy bells and whistles -- and definitely no composites of other photos. And as news.com.au points out, this seems to be acceptable according to the somewhat ambiguous rules for the World Press Photo contest, which states that the "content of the image must not be altered. Only retouching which conforms to the currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed."
At the end of the day, an image from the November conflict between Hamas and Israel was bound to create controversy. The meaning of another photograph from that bout of violence -- depicting BBC World journalist Jihad Mashrawi holding his dead son in a hospital -- has also been subject to revisions. Initial reports claimed the child was killed by an Israeli attack, while a U.N. investigation found that the death owed to an errant rocket fired by Hamas.
Image manipulation is becoming more and more common in news photography, but many media organizations maintain certain journalistic standards for the pictures they use. Krawetz argues that Hansen's image violates "the acceptable journalism standards used by Reuters, Associated Press, Getty Images, National Press Photographer's Association, and other media outlets." Anthony, however, doesn't seem so certain:
The bigger discussion, of course, is whether Gaza Burial is actually fake -- or just enhanced to bring out important details. This is a question that has plagued photography since its inception. Should a photo, especially a press photo, be purely objective? Most people think the answer is an obvious 'yes,' but it's not quite that simple.... Is it okay for a photographer to modify a picture so that it looks exactly how he remembers the scene?
For what it's worth, the qualities that Lyon, the jury chairman, cited for the award are fundamental to the photograph:
This photo was chosen because it is so powerful.... The combination of the small size of the bodies -- they're very young children -- combined with the variety of expressions of pain and rage and sadness.... This image sums up the story very powerfully, very poignantly.
On Tuesday, World Press Photo told the Huffington Post that two independent experts will be carrying out a forensic investigation of the image file with Hansen's cooperation, and later informed Poynter that it had found "no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing."
Ultimately, Hansen may have edited the picture to emphasize the features that the judges cited in deeming his image the best photo of the year. But what Lyon described in announcing the award goes far beyond lighting in a dark alley.
FREDRIK SANDBERG/SCANPIX/AFP/Getty Images
Here's a new data point to drop into the drone debate: A 9-inch remote-control drone helicopter that spent the last week tangled in the arms of a Lady Justice statue atop a courthouse in Marion, Ohio -- "rest[ing] on the hilt of her sword," as the AP poetically put it -- was finally liberated over the weekend by a man with an extension pole (county officials had previously said they wouldn't spend public resources to retrieve it). The camera-equipped drone had been filming a tourism video for the city when a gust of wind swept it into the statue's arms. On Tuesday, the Marion Star posted footage, above, of the drone's fateful last flight.
It's a story that seems full of symbolism. But how should we interpret it? Here are some conclusions you could draw:
a) The murky legality surrounding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles will ultimately give way to a standardized system of rules and regulations (the swift gust of wind is Sen. Rand Paul)
b) Drones will eventually be freed from legal constraints and set aloft to do as they please (the man with the long pole is Attorney General Eric Holder)
c) Drone use by private citizens is a threat to law and order (Lady Justice represents civil liberty/privacy groups, the man filming the tourism video is Rosa Brooks)
Of course, then there's Marion Sheriff Tim Bailey, who had this to say about the drone owner, Terry Cline:
"Look," the sheriff said. "Let's put this in perspective. He ran a helicopter into county property. It's no different than if someone hit the courthouse with their car. We took a report. We're done."
Think about it.
In a country with a population of just 315,281, it turns out it's not very hard to accidentally hook up with a close relative.
"Everyone has heard of (or experienced) it when someone goes all in with someone and then later runs into that person at a family gathering some other time," writes the website News of Iceland.
Now, there's an app for that.
Three enterprising entrepreneurs have used the information from Íslendingabók -- a website with a geneological database of more than 700,000 Icelanders, past and present -- to make an Android app that allows users to bump phones and find out if their genes are a little too close for comfort before an encounter goes any further (slogan: "Bump the app before you bump in bed").
As the Global Post noted back in 2011, sexual encounters are becoming more anonymous as Iceland becomes increasingly urbanized. Íslendingabók began as a geneological website but has since taken on the additional role of helping couples search for common roots. Presumably, having the site available in app form will make it a bit easier to conduct these incest checks in, say, a bar or at one of those famous volcanic hot springs (couple on the right, above: take note!).
Of course, in Iceland, the question is not whether you're related -- it's how closely. The new technology leaves up to the user the decision about whether hooking up with a third or fourth cousin is too much. But here's hoping for a few less awkward Icelandic family reunions this summer.
OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images
There aren't many surprises in the new WikiLeaks document dump -- the organization is calling the collection of 1.7 million documents dated from 1973 to 1976 "The Kissinger Cables" -- but there are a few interesting finds. For example, there's the request from Morocco's King Hassan II for any information the United States had on an unidentified flying object spotted along the Moroccan coast in the early morning hours of Sept. 19, 1976.
Four days after the incident, the commander of Morocco's gendarmerie requested a meeting with the U.S. defense attaché in Rabat. In their meeting, the Moroccan officer noted that there had been reports across the country of an object sighted arcing across the night sky, and that the king had taken a personal interest in following up on the incident.
"Reports from these widely separate locations were remarkably similar, i.e., that the object was on a generally southwest to northeast course, it was a silvery luminous circular shape and gave off intermittent trails of bright sparks and fragments, and made no noise," the U.S. defense attaché wrote in his cable to Washington. The next day, the attaché met with another gendarmerie officer who had actually seen the UFO. The officer "described the UFO as flying parallel to the coast at a relatively low speed, as if it were an aircraft preparing to land. It first appeared to him as a disc-shaped object, but as it came closer he saw it as a luminous tubular-shaped object."
"I frankly do not know what to make of these sighting, although I find intriguing the similarity of the descriptions reported from widely dispersed locations," the attaché wrote to Washington on Sept. 25. "In any event, I wish to be able to respond promptly to King Hassan's request for information, and would appreciate anything you can do to assist me in this."
One week later, on Oct. 2, Washington cabled back with the terse message: "Hope to have answer for you next week. Regards." Three days later, the secretary's office followed up. "It is difficult to offer any definitive explanation as to the cause or origin of the UFOs sighted in the Moroccan area between 0100 and 0130 local time 19 September 1976," the cable began, before suggesting that, based on descriptions of its trajectory and appearance, it "could conceivably be compatible with a meteor, or a decaying satellite," though U.S. officials noted that "the [U.S. government] is unaware of any US aircraft or satellite activity, either military or civilian, in the Moroccan area which might have been mistaken for such sightings."
Despite their appearance in WikiLeaks' new cache of documents, the cables aren't exactly breaking news. They were quoted at length in a 1990 book titled The UFO Cover-Up: What the Government Won't Say, in which the authors speculated that the 10-day delay between the initial cable from Rabat and Washington's reply was to allow time for secret briefings, and refuted the official narrative:
Is it impossible for a bright meteor to have been responsible for the sightings? Not really, if one examines the information very generally. A silvery, luminous object giving off a bright trail and sparks is not unlike a description of a meteor. However, the sightings were reported over a span of about an hour. The UFO, according to some witnesses, traveled at a slow speed, like an aircraft about to land. And the southwest to northeast course of the UFO would have brought it in the general direction of Iran, where other activity was ongoing. Coincidence?
Well, yes. It was a coincidence. In October 2012, Canadian amateur satellite watcher Ted Molczan (who was profiled by the New York Times in 2008) posted on a satellite interest site that the trajectory and timing of the incident matches the re-entry of a piece of space junk -- specifically a Soviet booster engine from a rocket launched two months earlier -- in July 1976. While it's true that the UFO was not of U.S. origin, it appears the cable from the State Department was either misleading or not fully informed about the incident. The Soviet rocket debris was tracked by U.S. Strategic Command and cataloged in its Space Track database, where Molczan eventually found the record. So there you go, mystery solved -- 35 years later.
(Hat tip to @arabist.)
Iran, always leery when it comes to espionage, has taken a number of steps to fend off would-be spies. The latest came just yesterday, with the announcement of an "Islamic" alternative to Google Earth -- the ironically named Basir (spectator). But there's one thing Tehran didn't plan on: Dom.
Dom is a U.K. resident who had his laptop stolen from his London apartment two months ago. But luckily for him -- and us -- he'd installed an application that tracks the location of his laptop and even sends back screenshots of it being used.
Where did the computer end up? Nearly two months after the burglary it appeared in the heart of Tehran:
The Telegraph, which identifies Dom as an animator named Dom del Toro, explains that del Toro reported the theft to British police, who claimed they couldn't do anything since Iran was outside their jurisdiction. He then set up a Tumblr blog -- the aptly named, Dom's laptop is in Iran -- where he's been posting pictures of the Tehrani woman currently using his computer.
We learn about her taste in music:
And even her interest in Jenga:
Hidden App claims to work by taking "real time photos of the thief and screenshots of them using your computer" -- all "without them knowing you're watching." Unless, that is, you post the images on the Internet.
Michael Mann -- director of the venerable Al Pacino/Robert De Niro movie Heat and The Last of the Mohicans -- is working on a new film, and its plotline sounds, well, unrealistic.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the still-untitled movie will feature U.S. and Chinese cyber agents -- not duking it out across the Internet, as might be expected, but working together. To stop a hacker. From the Balkans. The film is said to center around a pair of "Chinese hacker siblings"; Mann was reportedly in Hong Kong this week scouting potential lead actors and actresses.
Is this completely implausible? Well, not completely. Sure, there are some hackers in the Balkans. And sure, the United States and China occasionally make gestures toward increasing cooperation on cybercrime. But it is cybercrime from China -- particularly of the state-backed variety -- that is by far the bigger concern for business leaders and policymakers.
THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
From the country that brought you the virtual-girlfriend game Love Plus comes the latest breakthrough in dating simulation: Japanese students at the University of Tsukuba have apparently invented the Riajyuu Coat, a jacket that hugs you and comes with a pair of headphones that whisper sweet nothings in your ears. According to the gaming blog Kotaku, riajyuu is slang for "someone who is pleased with their life outside the Internet," which may be wishful thinking for anyone who finds themselves in need of such a coat.
The jacket looks fairly normal but comes with a belt that tightens around the waist, as though your girlfriend were hugging you from behind. When you feel the squeeze, you'll hear a sweet voice in your ears that says things like, "I'm sorry I'm late!" (even coat-girlfriends can't show up on time?!). Here's the promotional video:
The researchers don't seem to be interested in selling the coat so much as just having fun with the idea. But the concept does suggest that Japan's traditionally quirky innovation isn't limited to robots anymore.
There's the FitBit for fitness fanatics, the Pebble Watch for people who think their cell phones are too big, and Google Glasses for fancy sportsmen or irritating entrepreneurs. And now, there are high-tech life-trackers for human rights activists too -- devices that might save their lives.
Designed by Civil Rights Defenders (CRD), these high-tech bracelets -- dubbed the "The Natalia Project" after activist Natalia Estemirova who, in 2009, was abducted from her home in Chechnya and murdered for her activism -- are designed to serve as the first assault alarm system for human rights defenders at risk of being kidnapped or killed, according to a press release published by the organization on Friday.
When triggered -- either by the wearer or by the device being forcibly removed -- the durable bracelet/personal alarm uses GPS and smartphone technology to send a message with the time and the bracelet's location to the phones of colleagues in close proximity and to CRD headquarters in Stockholm. In an interesting social media twist, CRD will also notify anyone around the world who has signed up to receive distress signal alerts via SMS, Facebook, and Twitter. The organization hopes that those who have signed up to monitor the activists' safety will in turn spread the word via social media, raising awareness and putting pressure on those responsible for the attack or kidnapping.
It's a life-tracking device that could very well live up to its name.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo's Twitter feed disappeared for about an hour today following an online sparring match with a feed operated by the office of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy over Jon Stewart's impassioned defense of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef. When the embassy's feed returned, a tweet linking to the Daily Show clip had been deleted, and State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that embassy officials "came to the conclusion that the decision to tweet it in the first place didn't accord with post management of the site."
There's bad diplomacy, and then there's the Twitter fight that followed this afternoon between the Muslim Brotherhood's English-language Twitter account (@IkhwanWeb) and American radio show host and media personality Rick Sanchez (@RickSanchezTV). The improbable feud started when the Muslim Brotherhood tweeted an Al Jazeera report featuring a comment Sanchez made in 2010 that was widely reported as being anti-Semitic and led to his firing from CNN. The Muslim Brotherhood pointed to the incident as an example of the West's "double standards" about free speech:
The Muslim Brotherhood's confusion about the government-ensured rights of an individual vs. the rights of private employees notwithstanding, Sanchez came looking for a fight this afternoon. Armed with a loose understanding of the situation, Sanchez eagerly began trolling @IkhwanWeb.
The Muslim Brotherhood responded, and from there, it was a good, old-fashioned troll fight. @IkhwanWeb was right that Sanchez didn't have his facts straight, but their defense of Egypt's freedom of speech rang a bit hollow given the circumstances:
.@ricksancheztv Mr. Shanchez, we value freedom of speech, it's what Egyptians fought for & no power can take this fundamental right away— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) April 3, 2013
.@ricksancheztv perhaps u shld get facts first. He wasn't arrested, but questioned and released re complaint brought by pvt citizen, not us— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) April 3, 2013
.@ricksancheztv absolutely false, we've nothing to do w investigations, it's a fact & if u ve evidence to contrary plz announce to the world— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) April 3, 2013
Sanchez then declared victory. Several times.
And that's today's installment of how Twitter is making politics weird. Remember, folks: Don't feed the trolls.
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