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The UAE Wants to Speed Up Government Service Delivery With Drones

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Screenshot of Netflix's (fake) "Drone2Home" program

Earlier this month Netflix released a short mock commercial poking fun at Amazon's plans to create a drone delivery service called Prime Air.

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First POST: Open Letters

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, December 9 2013

(Most) big tech companies come out swinging against the NSA's bulk surveillance programs; Change.org hits the 50 million-user mark; an analysis of Facebook profiles and search data suggests that millions of American men, especially in the south, are still in the closet; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Privatization

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, December 2 2013

The latest ups and downs of HealthCare.gov; PandoDaily.com absurdly accuses Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras of "privatizing" the Snowden Files; and will robot watchmen and drone deliveries be coming to your neighborhood soon? Read More

First POST: Crisitunity?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 20 2013

Why the Obamacare mess may be far, far worse for the Democratic party than people realize; the latest in voter-targeting TV ads; thinking about "popular data" as a new way to grow civic engagement around open data; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Half-Orcs and Whips

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Two Google network security engineers vent their anger at the NSA's hacking of their systems; the President and First Lady as White House ushers on YouTube; the Amazon book review war heats up on Amazon; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: The 16-Year-Old Vote

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 5 2013

Some pesky petitions that the White House still hasn't responded to; more evidence of the NSA's violation of Google's and Yahoo's data networks; the new book on Jeff Bezos gets reviewed by his wife MacKenzie Bezos, on Amazon; and much, much more. Read More

Internet Privacy: Are Lawmakers Thinking About It All Wrong?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, September 4 2013

How do we get back to the world where nobody knows if you're a dog? Photo: Flickr/Jesse757

Is it time to move past "Do Not Track" as the solution to pervasive online invasions of privacy? Sarah Lai Stirland takes a walk along the digital frontier where privacy activists and data entrepreneurs are diligently carving out some radical new approaches to the problem. Read More

First POST: Print is Dead

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 6 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What to make of Jeff Bezos's purchase of the Washington Post; more reverberations from the NSA surveillance scandal; a British government agency proves you can make smart use of the web AND work in government; and more in today's round-up of news about technology in politics from around the web. Read More

If Books Were Votes, Obama Would Beat Romney, And Congress Would Go Far Right

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 21 2012

Amazon's Election Heat Map, August 21, 2012

The folks at Amazon have just unveiled a seductive piece of eye-candy called the "Election Heat Map of 2012" that categorizes 500 top book titles as either "red" or "blue," and then breaks out current book-buying data state-by-state, offering a near-real-time look at which political books are more popular where. Right now, 56% of the political books being purchased are "red" and 44% are "blue"--and the accompanying map suggests that people in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Washington, DC are the only ones swimming against that trend, with Pennsylvania the only state with neutral reading interests. At the same time, Barack Obama's long-selling "The Audacity of Hope" is outselling Mitt Romney's "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness" by a margin of 2-1 in the last thirty days. The heat map is fun to look at, but has to be taken with a huge spoonful of salt. Read More

What the Heck Does that Mean?: Why Amazon Hosts Websites

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, December 7 2010

Photo credit: kevindooley Recently, I was talking Wikileaks with a very smart person in my life who had to wonder, "What the heck is Amazon.com doing hosting websites, anyway?" F Read More

News Briefs

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Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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