Obama’s NSA Surveillance Orders, the Uncertain Future of Net Neutrality, and more

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Friday, January 17, 2014


President Obama announces changes to the NSA's surveillance practices, the first U.S. case to consider libel on Twitter could set a precedent for defamation on social media, and a devastating blow to net neutrality.

Obama Threads the NSA Needle

Today President Obama announced changes to the United States’ surveillance policies. While Obama addressed greater security measures for telephone data, much of the NSA’s surveillance...

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Net Neutrality and You

On Tuesday a DC circuit court of appeals dealt what many are calling a death blow to net neutrality, the principle that all content providers should be treated equally. To understand this ruling and its potential effects on the future of the internet, Brooke talks with Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair of media studies at the University of Virginia and author of The Googlization of Everything (and why we should worry).

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Twitter + Libel = Twibel?

The first Twitter Libel case in the United States went on trial last week. The actress and recording artist Courtney Love is accused of defaming her former lawyer in a 2010 tweet. Bob speaks to Ellyn Angelotti, a lawyer and member of the Poynter Institute's faculty, who says the decision in this case could set a social media precedent for defamation -- and explains how the libel standard for print could apply to an 140-character format.

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Rap Lyrics as Evidence

This coming week, the Supreme Court of New Jersey will consider an appeal of a 2008 that found Vonte Skinner guilty of attempted murder. On what evidence? Inconsistent eyewitness testimony, and rap lyrics written by Skinner. The lyrics didn’t reference the victim or any details of the crime. Bob speaks with Professor Charis Kubrin who studies the surprisingly common use of rap lyrics as evidence, and co-wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times last week called “Rap Lyrics on Trial.” 

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Policing Gangs Through Rap Videos

In New York City, 30 percent of all shootings are tied to youth gang rivalries. There are over 300 street crews in the city, loosely affiliated gangs that battle mainly over turf. The rivalries often play out in rap videos made by the gangs and posted on YouTube. Those videos - and threats of violence in their lyrics - are being used as evidence by New York City police to make arrests. Brooke talks with WNYC reporter Kathleen Horan about this policing technique. 


100 Songs in a Day

One way to make money making music online is the boring way. Write one song that does incredibly well and live off the royalties for the rest of your life. Matt Farley is a musician who's gone a different route. He's written over 14,000 songs and he makes a tiny bit of money each time someone plays one on Spotify or iTunes. OTM producer and TLDR co-creator PJ Vogt visited Matt at his home recording studio to see how it all works. Programming note: This story originally aired on TLDR -- OTM's new blog and podcast.

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