Wavelength: Your So-Called Private Life

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This latest issue of Wavelength, The Media Consortium’s blog on media news and policy issues, looks at the future of digital privacy, a Seattle youth media program that dared to oppose Comcast--and more.
This blog features content from Care2, Truthout, Public News Service, Women’s Media Center and Afro-Netizen. To read the full blog, including relevant hyperlinks, click here

Privacy Please

As Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., writes for Care2, recent studies indicate smart phones and other mobile apps are being used as remote spyware. Franken, one of the leading advocates for net neutrality and other media policy issues on Capitol Hill, notes that researchers found that “both iPhones and Android phones were automatically collecting certain location information from users’ phones and sending it back to Apple and Google—even when people weren’t using location applications.”

One particularly disturbing aspect of these revelations is that location information could be used by cyberstalkers. Stronger federal law concerning mobile broadband security is needed, Franken argues.

Social Networking Privacy Bill Faces Opposition from Facebook and Twitter

The widespread popularity of social networking has also resulted in widespread concerns over privacy. Yet, as Truthout’s Nadia Prupis reports, “Facebook, Google, Skype, and Twitter have joined forces to oppose an online privacy bill in California that would prevent the companies from displaying users’ personal information without explicit permission.”

The bill in question is SB 242, a.k.a. the Social Networking Privacy Act. Introduced by California Sen. Ellen Corbett (D) the bill would create stronger privacy guidelines, and also require social networking sites to remove personal information, if the user requests, within 48 hours. A failure to do so would result in a $10,000 fine per instance.

Tweeting Back at Comcast

Former FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell-Baker’s pending move to Comcast has been met with loud cries over conflict of interest. As Public News Service’s Mark Scheerer reports, more controversy has erupted, this time over Reel Grrls, a Seattle media training summer camp for young women, which sent out a tweet denouncing Attwell-Baker’s new job.

“Following Reel Grrls’ Twitter post,” Scheerer says, “a local Comcast vice-president immediately rescinded its annual $18,000 donation to the girls’ program. Comcast then apologized, calling it an action by an ‘unauthorized employee.’ By then, says Reel Grrls director Mallory Graham, the media had picked up the story and support came pouring in.”

An Open Internet, Communities of Color and Astroturf Orgs

Afro-Netizen recently picked up an op-ed by CMJ’s Malkia Cyril on digital diversity as it relates to Net Neutrality. Cyril writes:
In the fight over who will control the Internet, big companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are hoping they will win a pass on FCC oversight and public interest protection leaving them free to make as much profit as they can even if the service they provide is gated and discriminatory. Some civil rights groups are concerned that protecting the public from discrimination online--especially the poor and people of color--from the proven abuses of Big Media companies, will result in those companies refusing to build out high-speed broadband to rural communities and low-income urban communities.

Who You Callin’ a Slut?

On May 24, MSNBC talk-show host Ed Schultz referred to conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut.” Although Schultz was publicly rebuked and quickly suspended by MSNBC after his remark, Yana Walton of the Women’s Media Center blogged that sexism isn’t OK, even when it’s directed at someone whose politics you don’t agree with. Though Walton says Schultz has historically been a supporter of women’s issues, she also notes:

In a media climate where Talkers Magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list of the top talk radio hosts only included 12 women with their own programs, (plus two women co-hosts), such comments dissuade women from entering into political talk radio careers.

The Wavelength is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets. This post features the best independent, progressive reporting about media policy by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. To read this and other issues of The Wavelength, click here.