YouTube Didn’t Delete M.I.A. Video, But Did Bury It

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White House collects Web users’ data without notice

The White House is collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without notifying or asking the consent of the site users, a failure that appears to run counter to President Obama’s promise of a transparent government and his pledge to protect privacy on the Internet.

Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the White House signaled that it would insist on open dealings with Internet users and, in fact, should feel obliged to disclose that it is collecting such information.

“The White House has not been adequately transparent, particularly on how it makes use of new social media techniques, such as this example,” he said.

Defenders of the White House actions said the Presidential Records Act requires that the administration gather the information and that it was justified in taking the additional step of asking a private contractor to “crawl and archive” all such material. Nicholas Shapiro, a White House spokesman, declined to say when the practice began or how much the new contract would cost.

Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for National Archives and Records Administration, said the presidential records law applies to “social media” and to public comments “received by the president or immediate staff.”

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