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First POST: Surging

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 21 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Will a "tech surge" of the "best and brightest" save HealthCare.gov?: FWD.us holding a hackathon to build engagement tools to help win the immigration reform fight; David Carr's chat with Pierre Omidyar; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: The Bloggers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 18 2013

Edward Snowden's justification for his actions: no "government in the dark": tech insiders on the HealthCare.gov meltdown; more on why Pierre Omidyar's new venture could shake up online journalism; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Malala, Malia

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 14 2013

The Snowden backlash is getting bigger; Malala tells the Obamas (and Malia) what she thinks of US drone strikes; and HealthCare.gov mess gets the New York Times' front-page treatment; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Root Causes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 10 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus: Just how far has the Obama administration strayed from its promise to be the most open and transparent in history?; how government procurement practices led to the HealthCare.gov mess; Ari Fleischer's Twitter meltdown; and much, much more. Read More

Millions Flock to Govt Online Health Exchanges Despite Govt Shutdown

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, October 1 2013

CNN's homepage, like news homepages across the world, is filled with headlines about the government shutdown. But since early Tuesday, visitors to the CNN homepage from the New York area at least have also been greeted with full-page ads encouraging them to enroll in the state-run health care exchanges. The New York State of Health web platform is one of the exchange websites that reported some access difficulties earlier in the day due to intense usage. As the Washington Post and others noted, at one point Tuesday the site showed the notice "Attention: Due to overwhelming interest in the NY State of Health — including 2 million visits in the first 2 hours of the site launch — the health exchange is currently having log in issues. We encourage users who are unable to log in to come back to the site later when these issues will be resolved." Read More

First POST: Drip, Drip

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 11 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA releases new documents showing it violates its own privacy rules on a daily basis; cryptoparties are springing up again in Germany; gun control supporters are recalled in Colorado; and much, much more. Read More

On Syria Fight, OFA is Missing in Action

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 9 2013

The White House is making a huge effort to convince Congress to support President Obama's request for authorization to attack Syria, but one big piece of its political machine is conspicuously absent from the field: Organizing for Action, the nonprofit "grassroots" continuation of the 2012 campaign. On BarackObama.com, which functions as the group's online front-page, the top issues OFA is working on are climate change, immigration reform and reducing gun violence. All of OFA's upcoming actions are on defending Obamacare, pressing gun violence prevention and the like. The group's Twitter account is similarly focused on those domestic battles. Read More

You Can't A/B Test Your Response to Syria

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Senate hearing Sept 3, 2013. Department of Defense Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton.

While Congress wrestles with President Obama's unexpected request for formal legal authorization before he orders airstrikes on Syria, it's been fascinating to watch the country's big online advocacy groups try to figure out their own position on the crisis. Should the US bomb Syria in order to punish Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons on his own people, risking a wider American involvement in the conflict and potentially further destabilizing the region? Or should the US stay out of that kind of direct involvement, even if that risks emboldening Assad and could lead to more frequent uses of chemical weapons in the future? These are just some of the hard questions at stake. And what makes any decision even harder is the fast-moving and relatively unique nature of these events. Even tougher for big e-groups like MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which collectively claim about ten million list members, the Syria crisis isn't an issue that these groups were formed to address. Nor is there an obvious consensus "progressive" position to promote, beyond the one these groups were all touting in the last few weeks (along with many others, including some conservative organizations), which was the need to bring the question before Congress. Some people are strong anti-interventionists, wary of green-lighting another American incursion in the Middle East. Others worry about genocide, and don't want to look the other way when mass killings of civilians take place. Read More

First POST: Egypt

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 15 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Reacting to the massacres in Egypt; Bradley Manning apologizes; Pew Internet says the kids are all right; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Commandeered

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 13 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersThe inside story of how Edward Snowden won Laura Poitras' trust; reconciling open data with the NSA scandal; the new Pew research on where people go to get their news; and much, much more. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

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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