Saturday, January 14, 2006


The potential for online purchase of private phone records by individuals with commercial, prurient, or surveiling interests has finally raised the ire of web political behemoth In an investigative journalism coup, ideologically similar AMERICABlog managed to buy former Presidential candidate General Wesley Clark's cell phone records. So MoveOn alerted their 3.3 million members that this privacy loophole exists. According to Reuters, "Agencies Probing Sale of Cell Phone Records," all that one needs is the number of the person to find out all the numbers that person in turn has called on their most recent bill. Ironically, when I searched for this story online on the New York Times website, ads for two of these unscrupulous services materialized above the top results, thanks to the sponsorship arrangements of the NYT search engine!

It's an tantalizing story that involves issues around privacy and intellectual property in two communications technologies, which I will try to cover as it develops. Given their influence, both political sites probably merit more rhetorical attention. AMERICABlog markets progressive products that use many branding and visual appropriation strategies, and the virtual fundraising power of has expanded across several platforms for digital communication: e-mail, listserv, website, digital images, sound and video files, and even television advertising. (Although many MoveOn ads can only be seen on your desktop, because networks refused to allow them to buy airtime during the last election for certain spots.) Those who received those first forwarded e-mails from MoveOn during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the Clinton administration will well remember the group's bi-partisan beginnings.



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