Will foreign markets be the driving force behind new US data protection laws?


The dominating smartphone messaging application, Whatsapp (واتساب), is at risk of losing its 450 million users worldwide after numerous governments and security experts released warnings after it was purchased by Facebook on February 19th. Although Whatsapp has had known “security holes” over the years, the majority of fear now comes from the common belief that Facebook will exploit Whatsapp user’s data for commercial use. These data-protection issues are causing educated users such as the German market to look for alternatives. Non-American security-conscious apps such as Threema are expected to absorb all Whatsapp users in the coming years.

Data protection is likely to become an increasingly more important issue for foreign markets. On 15 February German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed the creation of a European communications network to prevent data from passing through the insecure U.S. This poses a major threat not only to the US’ political cyber hegemony but to US business. Will the private sector allow this to occur? Expect developers and service providers to significantly alter their privacy policies to secure their foreign clientele.



Hi everyone, my name is Oset Babur, and I’m a third-year at Wellesley, where I study political science and economics. I’m interested in this course from a research perspective, because I want to better understand some of the mass movements that are motivated by political and social unrest, and now often take place online (the Arab Spring, in particular). In my free time, I like to go on runs, expand my music library, and visit my family in Istanbul whenever I get the chance.

I’m looking forward to the semester!


My name is Lou Thomas, and I’m a second year PhD student in Urban Studies & Planning / City Design & Development group. My recent research has been around the political economy of “placemaking”, by which I mean trying to grapple with how urban design “best practices” often have results such as gentrification, for example, because the power relations are unarticulated in terms of who will benefit. My B.A. (Bard, 2000) is in experimental film & video and I’ve off and on again created and taught media, but I’m at least ten years behind on what’s happening in theory and with the internet. I was a bit of a protest kid back in the anti-coporate globalization days of the late 90s/early 2000s (I even volunteered with Paper Tiger TV in NYC years ago helping them collectively edit a video of a Howard Zinn lecture that was going nowhere). Anyway, I’m now trying to figure out how to integrate media back into my research, and also bring myself up-to-date on current media theory prior to my exams (this fall). I took professor Vivek Bald’s short-attention span doc class last fall, and documented an activist arts group, the Design Studio 4 Social Intervention, and their attempt to bring “tactical urbanism” to disempowered residents in Uphams Corner (here’s a link to the final 8min30sec version if you’re interested: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rhycn06z9njn6c8/SLU_FINAL_120913.mp4)

Outside of my current ivory tower life-style (1st gen.), I’m a 5th generation native Baltimoron, though I spent a number of my adult years in Brooklyn, NY, Portland, OR and DC. I played in indy-rock bands for a long time. I’m now the proud father of an amazing 1 year old daughter, and live in co-housing in JP. I’m also a recovering bohemian and barista–and yes, Portland is just like the tv show.

I look forward to the class and the discussion with all of you.


Kubariet Intro

Hello Everyone.

I’m Graeme, an undergraduate here at MIT. The research that I’m currently involved with focuses on visualizing the connections between culturally significant people. Over the course of this seminar I aim to explore the network theory underlying significant social movements and learn more about how I can best aid social movements concerned with issues important to me in the future.

UrbanPerceptions Intro

My research focuses on new methods of data-collection for tracking urban development in the ‘Global South’. I aim to explore the impacts of digital networks on rapidly urbanizing communities. I hope to use this blog to also explore my morals regarding complex internet freedom issues in regards to disadvantaged populations to better define my personal beliefs.