Posts Tagged ‘ counter-blogging ’

A Matter of Security

The big story over the weekend was about John Tyner, a software engineer who refused the TSA body scan and pat-down at the San Diego airport, and was subsequently removed from the airport and fined $10,000 for being uncooperative.  What makes this a big story is the fact that Tyner recorded the entire incident on his cell phone and then posted it on YouTube; he also wrote a full account on a blog using the moniker “johnnyedge”[1].  The video and blog have gone viral in the 48 hours since the incident took place, the YouTube video receiving over 200,000 hits.

There is quite a lot going on in this story that is worth examining.  First off, the relatively new practice of using the backscatter x-ray scanners and the TSA’s policy to administer a full pat-down to any passengers that opt-out of the scan have been under fire since they were first introduced.  Several stories have surfaced in the last year regarding the new technology, though none quite so markedly as Tyner’s.  One of the concerns raised was whether or not the body scan images were saved and stored [2]; the TSA confirmed that this was not the case in August, although it continues to be an issue raised in the argument against the body scans.  The issue does raise the question of precisely what does happen with the images?  How do the scanners work?  Is there no memory that stores images, even in the short term?  What if the scan does reveal someone in possession of something nefarious?  Doesn’t the scan represent evidence?  Surely there must be some system in place to preserve the image when this happens—if not, it does not seem particularly effective.  And if yes, the question is whether or not such a system violates the human rights of passengers.

I bet the TSA is rather unhappy right now, given the rising tidal wave of public discontent it is now facing.  I’ve written a lot about web content as records in this journal, so I won’t over-emphasize it now, but clearly the video/audio record Tyner preserved and uploaded to the Internet will impact the TSA’s operations—the extra time and labour spent dealing with uncooperative passengers, of navigating the negative press, and of correcting its policies and procedures will directly translate into dollar amounts.  As one article on Gizmodo suggests, there is a lot of money for manufacturers and lobbyists in the implementation and use of the new body scanners [3]; there’s a lot of money at stake if their adoption is stymied by bad press and public outrage.  And why?  Because one person recorded this activity and made the record public.

A movement in the US has grown around the rejection of the body scan technology and the TSA’s policies.  The website “I Made the TSA Feel my Resistance” has gone up, and is calling for “National Opt-Out Day” on November 24—the busiest day of the year for air travel.  It encourages passengers to refuse the body scan when they go through security. [4]

While I’ve always been sympathetic with the challenging (let’s face it—impossible) task of providing airport security, I think Tyner’s use of records and the web are useful in one very important way.  It forces us to ask: In what way does the body scan technology protect passengers?

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[1] The original blog post and videos are available here: http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html

An article by the Associated Press about the story’s popularity can be viewed here: http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_16617995?nclick_check=1

As well as a blog post on the CNN Newsroom website by one of the network’s correspondents can be viewed here: http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/15/dont-touch-my-junk/?iref=allsearch

[2] The issue of whether the images are stored or not was first raised last January, as represented in this article on CNN.com: http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-11/travel/body.scanners_1_body-scanners-privacy-protections-machines?_s=PM:TRAVEL

The TSA refuted these claims at the time on their blog: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/01/advance-imaging-technology-storing.html

The issue again made headlines in August with the following article on cnet: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20012583-281.html

Which the TSA again refuted: http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/08/tsa-response-to-feds-admit-storing.html

[3] Loftus, J.  (2010, November 14).  TSA Full-Body Scanners: Protecting Passengers or Padding Pockets?  Gizmodo. Retrieved on November 15, 2010 from http://gizmodo.com/5689759/tsa-full+body-scanners-protecting-passengers-or-padding-pockets

This article also effectively summarizes the current controversy surrounding Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT).

[4] http://www.imadethetsafeelmyresistance.com/

Blogs as Records: Damage Done?

It’s no secret that I am a social media addict. My current drug of choice is Twitter, which I’ve discussed previously as part of the records management blog. As you may or may not know, I’m in the process of researching the records management issues surrounding the Edmonton City Centre airport plebiscite for a term paper, and when I checked Twitter this morning– as I’m wont to do– I was surprised by a new and interesting development in the form of links to new commentary.

A blogger claiming to be a reporter for the Seattle Times blogged about the decision by city council to move forward with the closure following the failed petition drive by Envision Edmonton. This blogger, apparently named “Darren Holmes”, put his own spin on the existing documents, facts and hearsay about the issue that portrays the council decision as some nefarious conspiracy, and casts Envision Edmonton as well as all Edmontonians as victims and dupes [1].

Some crack investigative reporting by local Journal reporter Todd Babiak revealed that this individual’s claims of authority were bogus, but not before the blog post went viral [2, 3]. This development begs the question: how do you classify blogs as records?

There are a number of issues initially that we need to consider—for the sake of brevity, I’ll limit myself to the most obvious one.  Outwardly “Darren” has no connection with the municipal government, Envision Edmonton, the airport authority or Yes For Edmonton.  Unlike the petition records, reports, proposals, letters and emails traded internally and between these organizations, Darren’s blog entry (and Todd Babiak’s column) exist outside the purview of these involved parties.  As an individual, Darren is merely exercising his right to free speech, a right we are proud to respect in our society; his is only one opinion amid a vast sea of others, and is thus, ostensibly, transient.  And yet it has indelibly made its mark within this discourse, and could be potentially damaging to other individuals and organizations (some of which I’ve just mentioned), particularly as local residents make their way to the ballot box.  So how do you classify the blog entry?  How do you control it?  Is it even worth qualifying as a record worthy of notice?  Considering the furor it created in my Twitter feed, and more generally in the community of players and swirling informational landscape surrounding the Edmonton City Centre controversy, it’s clear that it has forced itself into the debate for better or worse.

One way to deal with the blog entry as a record is to litigate.  According to Darren’s most recent update, Mayor Mendel’s representation has begun to do just that, by threatening legal action for slander [4].  Given Darren’s anonymity, the veracity of the claim is highly dubious, but such a move would certainly be an option for Mandel.  According to Babiak’s column, the Seattle Times is also concerned for being associated with Darren, particularly since no “Darren Holmes” has ever written for them.  The Times would be within their rights to sue Darren for lying about his connection to the newspaper.  Envision Edmonton should also be anxious about being associated with this person, as the episode continues to play out on the public stage, since for many readers it might seem that Darren represents their cause; since any truth to Darren’s credentials has been refuted, such an association could be very damaging for Envision.

Two more methods of dealing with the blog present themselves.  First, to respond to it in kind in a public format, as Babiak has done with his column in The Edmonton Journal.  The other is to try and ignore it; “don’t feed the trolls” is a common saying in web culture that refers to people that comment online for the sole purpose of being inflammatory.  Neither of these methods can make the blog entry go away, however, and even litigation can’t erase the impact it has already had on public perception.

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References:

[1] darrensbigscoop.  (2010, October 13.) Catching Up. Darren’s Big Scoop. Retrieved on October 13, 2010 from http://darrensbigscoop.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/8/

[2] Babiak, T. (2010, October 13.) Blog from fake reporter doesn’t add to airport debate. The Edmonton Journal. Retrieved on October 13, 2010 from http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Blog+from+fake+reporter+doesn+airport+debate/3662096/story.html

[3]Babiak, T. (2010, October 12.) Anonymity, Fraud and No Fun. That Internet Thing. Retrieved on October 13, 2010 from http://communities.canada.com/edmontonjournal/blogs/internetthing/archive/2010/10/12/anyonymity-fraud-and-no-fun.aspx

[4] darrensbigscoop. (2010, October 7.) Developer’s on Final Approach For Downtown Airport Land. Darren’s Big Scoop. Retrieved on October 13, 2010 from http://darrensbigscoop.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/developers-on-final-approach-for-downtown-airport-land/

Gov. Palin expresses intense dislike of…bloggers?

CNNPolitics.com | Palin slams ‘bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie’Palin has given a steady stream of interviews since Election Day.

(CNN) — Sarah Palin fired a new salvo in her war on the media, unloading in a new interview on her home state paper and “bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie.”

“…Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me….I’ll tell you, yesterday the Anchorage Daily News, they called again to ask — double-, triple-, quadruple-check — who is Trig’s real mom,” she said, in an interview to be published in the magazine’s [Esquire] March issue.

Sarah Palin is like the kind of weird dreams you get after a serious bout of indigestion. Particularly after you’ve taken a couple of gravol and you can’t summon the energy to rouse yourself enough to escape the dream.

 

 

I might have more sympathy if she didn’t constantly thrust herself into the spotlight to make these quixotic, scattershot attacks at, well, basically everyone that has at some point or another taken a negative view of her (let’s face it) often reason-defying statements. (‘Cause is not the public record of Gov. Palin completely beyond reproach? You betcha. *wink*)

While the whole “anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie” thing is amusing, what gets me in this latest episode/dream sequence is her indictment of the Anchorage Daily News about claims of a supposed “coverup” of her son’s birth. For ADN’s full response I’ve included extra links below (worth reading if, like me, you just can’t look away from the walking disaster that is Sarah Palin).

 

The press release issued by Palin’s office on Jan 8, ‘Governor Palin says to media, “There you go Again”: http://community.adn.com/adn/node/136414

And the paper’s response to the accusation that they “continue to give credence to the sensational allegation that the governor’s child, Trig, is not hers”: http://community.adn.com/adn/node/136415

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The New ‘Counter-Blog’ Offensive

Air Force Releases ‘Counter-Blog’ Marching Orders | Danger Room from Wired.com

usafblogchart Bloggers: If you suddenly find Air Force officers leaving barbed comments after one of your posts, don’t be surprised. They’re just following the service’s new “counter-blogging” flow chart.

I know how this sounds, but it’s no joke. Should bloggers see this as mainstream validation in the currency of our productions?

But a flow chart? Really? That’s so Web 2.0. If the military wants to be taken seriously, they need to get with the times.

Sidebar: I personally find it awesome/amusing that the Air Force has something called “the emerging technologies division”.