Reporters Without Borders, a group that advocates for greater press freedoms, has issued a report warning that security abuses by the world's governments in the year since September 11 have increasingly put the Internet under the control of government security forces.
MSNBC reports that weblogs -- "blogs" for short -- are "helping the Internet make good on some of its heady promises of personal empowerment." Since 1999, the number of weblogs has grown from a few dozen to nearly half a million, offering everything from film criticism to personal diaries and news commentaries, and redefining journalism in the process. According to Steven Levy, blogging "lends itself to a new kind of reporting: on-the-spot recording of events, instantly beamed to the Net. ...
Despite a complaint by Commercial Alert and threats of legal action from the Federal Trade Commission, most of the Web's largest search engines have not yet complied with federal requirements that they inform users about deceptive "pay for placement" deals that smuggle commercial placements into search results.
Much of the Internet stock boom was a fiction, "written to script by Wall Street fixers who stood to collect, and did collect, buckets of money by duping the investing public," says Gregg Wirth, a freelance writer who has covered Wall Street for most of the past decade. "Americans were deluged with media sound bites and commercials portraying stock market trading as a virtual free ride on the gravy train.
In an intriguing essay, "Oxblood Ruffin" of the Cult of the Dead Cow (an internet hackers' group) examines the struggle between political "hacktivism" and government efforts to censor the Internet. "There's an international book burning in progress; the surveillance cameras are rolling; and the water canons are drowning freedom of assembly," he writes. "But it's not occurring anywhere that television can broadcast to the world. It's happening in cyberspace. ...
The Internet has been hyped as "a revolutionary new medium, so inherently empowering and democratizing, that old authoritarian regimes would crumble before it," but Andrew Stroehlein points out that the reality is more sobering. "The idea that the Internet itself is a threat to authoritarian regimes was a bit of delusional post-Cold War optimism.
During the heady late 1990s, Wall Street investment firms and bankers deliberately hyped Internet startup companies with no prospect of financial success, bilking countless small investors out of their money. This PBS documentary explains how it all worked, from the "roadshows" used to line up initial capital to the strategy of launching a new company, watch its stock price spike, and selling before the inevitable downturn (known within the trade as "flipping").
Burson-Marsteller, one of the world's largest public relations firms, has formed an alliance with Cyveillance, a company that specializes in helping companies track what consumers, activists and other interested parties are saying about them on the Internet. ""Negative comments or dialogue, which can be devastating to large corporations, often begin unnoticed in the recesses of the Internet," explained Eric Letsinger of Cyveillance. According to B-M's Scott A.
Business has been bad all year for PR firms that represent high-tech products and internet services, and the terror attacks of September 11 made things worse. O'Dwyer's reports layoffs at PR firms including Citigate Communications, Alexander Ogilvy, Brodeur Worldwide, Cohn & Wolfe,Niehaus Ryan Wong, TSI Communications, GCI, Edelman and Ketchum.