Tag Archives | Politics

Law Proposed to Make Camera Phone Sounds Mandatory

I really couldn’t figure out how to title this one. Here’s the deal. New York Republican Rep. Peter King seems to think that forcing manufacturers to make the camera *click* sound mandatory will somehow protect children from predators. Called the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, King is making the claim that Congress has found “that children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.” Without said sound, these predators can apparently do their work in silence. Yes, it sounds weird, but get this — laws already exist in Japan for the same reason.


My.BarackObama.com’s Porn-and-Malware Problem

An online community burgeoned out of Barack Obama’s use of Web 2.0 technologies during his campaign for the U.S. presidency. Supporters flocked to My.BarackObama.com to share blogs, videos and organized events. In the wake of that success, malicious hackers are leveraging the site in a socially engineered scheme to infect PCs with a trojan.

The hackers are embedding their My.BarackObama.com Web pages (content on the site is user generated) with links to Web sites that masquerade as YouTube, according to a report by Websense Security Labs ThreatSeeker Network. The fraudulent YouTube sites are filled with pornography, and prompt visitors to install a codec for video playback, which is really the trojan.

The good news is that today’s Web browsers don’t just automatically install software: end user interaction is required. While some people may be fooled into installing the trojan because the domain is legitimate, many will not simply because they did not recognize the My.BarackObama.com user’s Web page that directed them to it.

My.BarackObama.com is a community where people have reputations and interact with one another. I participated in the “blog wars” during the Democratic primary, and know whose URLs I would trust to click on. The trojan’s creators are plastering links to the malicious pages around the Web without regard for that community dynamic. My bet: Virus definitions will be updated to foil these scams, and they won’t spread far.

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The ObamaBerry: It’s Real!

ObamaberryYes, you can be the President of the United States and a denizen of the 21st century, apparently–at least when it comes to cell phones. The U.S. government has figured out how to mod a BlackBerry for super-secure communications, giving President Obama the ability to use the gizmo he feared losing for routing and personal communications. He’s relieved, I’m sure. And I’m relieved–the position is enough of a guy in a plastic bubble already, and there’s something basically unhealthy about the notion that the job is incompatible with modern means of communications. (Let’s hope we never have another leader of the free world who thinks it’s called “the Google.”)

All of which leaves one burning question: Just which BlackBerry model does the president tote? I suspect he’s an 8800 man, although I wouldn’t rule out the idea that he’s upgraded to a Bold.

In a semi-related story, the Washington Post has a good (if alarming) story on the very low-tech White House that the Obama administration is inheriting, with a great quote from spokesman Bull Burton: ” “It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari.”


Xbox Live Gets Into Inauguration Day Spirit

Xbox PosterAfter a hard day’s work, and a bit of watching the Inauguration Day festivities, I popped on my Xbox to find some of the presidential pomp and circumstance billed prominently for free viewing over Xbox Live.

The handful of video clips include the swearing in of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the performance by Aretha Franklin and the classical number featuring Yo-Yo-Ma and Itzhak Perlman. There’s also a video of “man on the street” Xbox Live gamers talking about what they’d like to see from Obama when he takes office.

Apparently, Microsoft’s PR wing announced this earlier in the day, but seeing it on my own was pretty cool. A rep tells me by e-mail that this is “less about political awareness and more about activating the LIVE community around events that are relevant and social,” and says a similar initiative is in the works for football fans.

Of course, scrolling down from the free content reveals a whole bunch of things you can buy, like network news specials and movies related to the presidency, but that’s okay. I’ve always hoped that Microsoft would use free content (besides demos) as a lure to the paid stuff, and this is a good place to start. I’m even tempted to use my handful of spare Microsoft points to rent “All the President’s Men” later.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States

Presidential SealOn Tuesday, Barack Obama will make history when he’s sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. Let’s pause to reflect on how how we got here: Here are the president-elect and his forty-three predecessors (counting Grover Cleveland as two presidents, of course). Click on any or all of ’em, and you’ll go to relevant sites around the Web. (I tried to be nonpartisan; many of them are the appropriate presidential libraries.)

And if you’re less interested in presidencies past and more interested in the one that’s about to start, check out my friend and former colleague Mark Sullivan’s guide to following the inauguration on the Web over at PCWorld.com.



Should the U.S. Roll Out Free Nationwide Wi-Fi? It Depends on Which Administration You Ask.

The lame duck Bush administration is flapping its wings in opposition to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) free, national wireless Internet plan. Meanwhile, U.S. President- elect Obama is assembling a team to execute a plan to broaden the availability of high speed Internet access in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the White House stands in opposition to the FCC’s proposal to auction off the U.S. airwaves (formerly used for terrestrial television) for a nationwide wireless broadband service. Under the plan, the winner of the auction would be required to roll out a nationwide service on a dedicated portion of those airwaves within a specified number of years. Outgoing FCC chairman Kevin Martin, appointed by President Bush, is an advocate of the plan.

But the Journal says that the administration is at odds with its FCC appointee: It believes that the winner of the spectrum auction should not be beholden to a price or product mandate. Given the failure of other municipal Wi-Fi projects, I would hope that the FCC has does its homework and has come up with a model that works. But I hope the plan doesn’t die because it falls short of perfection.

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Technology in the Obama Era

obamabidenSo it’s official: Come January 20th, Barack Obama will be president of the United States of America. What will that mean for technology? The Obama campaign site has a tech section that provides some clues.

A very quick summary:

–Obama will appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.

–He’ll support Network Neutrality. (Which is a somewhat squishy concept, which the Obama site doesn’t define. And it doesn’t say how he’ll support it.)

–He’ll encourage broadband deployment through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.”

–He’ll “give parents the tools and information they need to control what their children see on television and the Internet in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment.” (Free copies of Net Nanny for every household?)

—He’ll use unspecified “cutting-edge technologies” to make government more transparent.

–He believes we must “update and reform our copyright and patent systems to promote civic discourse, innovation and investment while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated.”

–He will “ensure that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration.” .

–He will “invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records.”

There’s nothing in there I disagree with. Come to think of it, there’s very little in there that anyone might disagree with. There’s also little in the way of detail. The idea of a cabinet-level CTO is an interesting one, and the right person could make a big difference. ((Me, I vote for Vint Cerf.) I’d love to see that CTO devote intense, sustained attention to broadband-related issues: It’s truly a national embarrassement that broadband in America is as slow, expensive, and spotty as it is.

More details to come, presumably. The president-elect will have his hands full from the moment he enters the White House; I hope he remembers those campaign promises and fleshes them out…and makes sure that they don’t remain mere promises.


A Technologizer Guide to Election 2008

Depending on your views of politics, Tuesday either brings relief from the endless assault of political ads or the most exciting day of the year. With technology quite prevalent in this election, we here at Technologizer thought we’d might compile some of our favorite spots to watch the day’s events.

See our picks below the fold… Continue Reading →

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Gamer at Play Reportedly Spots Obama Ad

A gamer has posted images of a billboard advertising Barack Obama’s presidential campaign which he says he came across while cruising the streets in the racing game Burnout Paradise for Xbox 360:

The Obama campaign and publisher Electronic Arts haven’t responded to press inquiries, leading bloggers to speculate whether the ad is just crafty Photoshop work or a real attempt to reach youngsters. Either way, as GigaOM’s Wagner James Au writes, the news raises an interesting question: Are in-game political ads a good idea?

The obvious answer is “yes.” Au notes that the Xbox 360 occupies a third of American homes. Combine that with historically low voter turnout from young people, and this looks like another way to bring out the vote.

Or is it? Utility for the political candidate aside, it’s worth finding out whether these ads actually work. Obama has been hailed for leveraging new technology in his campaign—My.BarackObama, Facebook, an iPhone app—and this is another piece of the puzzle. Unlike those other methods, which can convey detailed information, this is literally billboard advertising, but in a new, virtual space. Given the tendencies of young people to avoid polling places on election day, the Democratic Party–and the Republicans, for that matter–would be wise to study the impact of Obama’s methods. Perhaps they should invest in some exit pollers. I can see the question now: “Does leveling up put you in the mood to vote?”

If in-game political ads prove successful, members of Congress could try it again during midterm elections, particularly if the technology exists for location-based advertising.

At the very least, the ads’ presence might raise the mulitplayer gaming discourse beyond potty humor and bigotry. Although it’s possible they could also make the conversation even worse.