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January 2013, Week 2

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Media Bits & Bytes - Who's Watching Who Edition

 January 8, 2013

 Published by Portside

 #  #  #

 After 10 Years of Delay, the FCC Begins to Address Unjust
 Phone Rates for Prisoners

 By Rebecca J. Rosen

 January 2, 2013 
 The Atlantic

 http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/01/after-10-years-of-delay-the-fcc-begins-to-address-unjust-phone-rates-for-prisoners/266772/

 For Americans behind bars, prison payphone calls don't come
 cheap: Families -- who accept the calls collect -- can pay
 rates up to 24 times as much as a normal call, sometimes as
 much as $20 for just 15 minutes, though the charges vary
 wildly state to state.

 In 2003, Martha Wright-Reed filed a petition with the FCC
 requesting that multiple long-distance carriers be allowed
 to serve a given prison in the hope that greater competition
 would bring down rates. On Christmas Eve a hopeful sign was
 produced: a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," the official
 declaration of a the opening of a period for comment before
 handing down a decision which will likely lower the rates -
 at last. The  $1.2 billion market is dominated by only two
 companies, both owned by private-equity firms.

 #  #  #

 YouTube cancels billions of video views after finding they
 had been 'faked' - but were hackers working for the music
 industry?

 By Damien Gayle

 December 28, 2012 
 Daily Mail (UK)

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2254181/YouTube-wipes-billions-video-views-finding-faked-music-industry.html

 The world's biggest recording companies have been stripped
 of two billion YouTube hits after the website cracked down
 on alleged 'fake viewers'.  Universal, home of Rihanna,
 Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber, lost a total of one billion
 views, and Sony was second hardest hit, with the label
 behind such stars as Alicia Keys, Rita Ora and Labrinth
 losing more than 850million views in a single day.

 The dramatic falls came after YouTube conducted an audit of
 its viewing figures aimed at combating 'black hat' view
 count- building techniques. That is the term used when
 hackers artificially build up the numbers of views or likes
 on a YouTube video - enabling them to make clips appear far
 more popular than they really are. The unprecedented move
 left Universal with just five videos on the site - none of
 which were music - and Sony with just three.  It marks a
 huge commercial blow to all the artists involved as YouTube
 is now the web's most important outlet for music videos.

 #  #  #

 Which Websites Are Sharing Your Personal Details?

 By Wall Street Journal Staff

 December 7, 2012 
 Wall Street Journal

 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324640104578165651354042798.html

 To identify what personal information gets passed to other
 companies when you log in to popular websites, The Wall
 Street Journal tested 50 of the top sites (by U.S. traffic)
 that offer registration, excluding sites that required a
 real-world account, such as banking sites. The Journal also
 tested 20 selected other sites that focus on sensitive
 subjects such as dating, politics, health, or children's
 issues, and our own site, WSJ.com.

 The results are presented in an interactive graph on this
 site.

 #  #  #

 Gore Went to Bat for Al Jazeera, and Himself

 By Brian Stelter

 January 3, 2013 
 New York Times - Media Decoder


 http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/gore-went-to-bat-for-al-jazeera-and-himself/

 Al Gore's Current TV was never popular with viewers, but it
 was a hit where it counted: with cable and satellite
 providers. When he co-founded the channel in 2005, Mr. Gore
 managed to get the channel piped into tens of millions of
 households - a huge number for an untested network - through
 a combination of personal lobbying and arm-twisting of
 industry giants.

 He called on those skills again after deciding in December
 to sell Current TV to Al Jazeera for $500 million. On
 Wednesday night, a deal was announced that will bring the Al
 Jazeera brand into at least 40 million homes in the United
 States. It will also make Mr. Gore, who is already estimated
 to be worth more than $100 million, an even richer man.
 Television executives and observers were surprised by both
 the big price tag and the decision by Mr. Gore, one of the
 best-known proponents for action to combat global warming,
 to sell to a Middle Eastern monarchy built with oil wealth.

 #  #  #

 Time Warner Cable Drops Current TV Upon Sale To Al Jazeera

 By Michael Calderone

 January 2, 2013 
 Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/time-warner-al-jazeera-current-tv_n_2399370.html

 Time Warner Cable pulled the plug on Current TV just hours
 after news of the cable channel's sale to Al Jazeera became
 official. "This channel is no longer available on Time
 Warner Cable," read an on-screen message where Current TV
 used to be found.

 Al Jazeera took a major step into the U.S. cable market
 Wednesday by acquiring beleaguered Current TV and announcing
 plans for a U.S.-based news network to be called Al Jazeera
 America. But while the new channel will soon be available in
 40 million households, Al Jazeera faced a setback when Time
 Warner Cable -- which reaches 12 million homes -- announced
 it was dropping the low-rated Current, which occupied a spot
 that could have been switched to Al Jazeera America. Some
 media observers interpreted the move as motivated by
 politics. Al Jazeera America will be separate from Al
 Jazeera English and will be headquartered in New York City.

 #  #  #

 Controversial site pays Australians to monitor unsuspecting
 Brits

 By Kevin Collier

 January 3, 2013 
 The Daily Dot (Australia)

 http://www.dailydot.com/news/internet-eyes-australia-british-security-cameras/

 Psst! Hey, Australians, want to make an easy buck?  As long
 as you're not creeped out by the idea of sitting at your
 computer for hours watching live video of unsuspecting
 Brits, that is. The U.K. company Internet Eyes streams video
 from stores' security cameras to its users and offers them
 potential cash prizes if they spot a criminal, and has
 expanded its user base to Australia. Now, Internet Eyes will
 pay users to monitor strangers on a different continent,
 more than a thousand miles away.

 Spy Blog, a site critical of the U.K.'s use of surveillance
 technology, has called Internet Eyes "suspiciously like an
 illegal Lottery" for its rewards system, and claimed it's
 "worse than useless from an anti-crime alert point of view,"
 as users who witness violent criminal activity can only send
 an alert, not tell the police.

 #  #  #

 Among Top News Stories, a War Is Missing

 By Brian Stelter

 December 30, 2012 
 New York Times - Media Decoder

 http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/among-top-news-stories-a-war-is-missing/

 Look closely at the end-of-the-year lists of 2012's top news
 stories. What's missing? The 11-year-old war in Afghanistan
 and American-led counterterrorism efforts around the world.
 The Pew Research Center's weekly polling on the public's
 interest in news stories showed such a low level of interest
 that the overseas conflicts didn't make the organization's
 list of the year's top 15 stories. Nor did the Afghan war
 come up when The Associated Press conducted its annual poll
 of editors and news directors in the United States. The only
 overseas stories in the year's top stories involved Libya
 and Syria.  The absence of words like "Afghanistan" from
 year-end lists reflects both the national news media's scant
 coverage of the war and the public's disengagement with it.

 #  #  #

 Beyond SOPA: the top nine tech policy stories of 2012

 By Timothy B. Lee and Joe Mullin

 December 27, 2012 
 Arstechnica

 http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/12/more-than-sopa-the-top-nine-tech-policy-stories-of-2012/

 The year 2012 started off with one of the most dramatic
 developments in Internet policy to date: the total implosion
 of the SOPA/PIPA bills in mid-January. Of all the stories we
 covered this year, there's little question the outcry over
 SOPA most changed the debate in Washington. Congressional
 representatives were deluged by a record public outcry,
 getting eight million e-mails from regular Internet users
 within a few days.

 But 2012 was also the year smartphone patent wars actually
 hit the courts, making the fight between behemoths Apple vs
 Samsung another big story.  Also in the list was the courts
 giving stronger rights to the public to record police
 activities.

 #  #  #

 The Web's New Monopolists

 By Justin Fox

 Atlantic Magazine January/February 2013

 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/01/the-webs-new-monopolists/309197/

 Ask Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of the social network
 Twitter and the mobile-payment start-up Square, what his two
 companies have in common, and he has a quick answer:
 "they're both utilities." Mark Zuckerberg might agree: he
 spent years trying to convince people that Facebook is not a
 social network but a "social utility."  Utilities tend to be
 boring, slow-growing beasts. They also-and this is the more
 important point-tend to be monopolies that are either
 regulated heavily by governments or owned outright by them.

 But companies like Twitter, Square, and Facebook-not to
 mention Google, Amazon, and Apple-aspire to a status similar
 to traditional utilities like Ma Bell. They attempt to
 position themselves so customers can't get around them, or
 can't afford to leave them. And when they succeed, they
 start appearing just like scary monopolies that somebody
 needs to do something about. Today's technology
 entrepreneurs are well aware of the tight link between
 profit and monopoly. "There's a joke in Silicon Valley,"
 says the UC Berkeley economist Carl Shapiro: "?`You know
 you've really made it when you've got antitrust problems.'
 That's the sign of success."

 #  #  #

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