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Daily Digest | Hostage Takers in Cyberspace and Orbitz Wants to Open Cuba

BY Editors | Monday, May 11 2009

  • For $10 Million, You Can Have Your Data Back Now this is interesting. With both sea piracy and cyber security in the news lately, someone had an idea: combine the two. Last week, someone broke into a Virginia Web site that lets pharmacists track prescription drug abuse. But instead of just breaking in and stealing data, writes Matthew Burton, they are holding it hostage.
  • Using Distributed Media (and People) To Ask Hard Questions Dan Gillmor goes back to examine Condi Rice's "Macaca Moment." He says the right lesson from the Rice meltdown is the one we should find a way to re-create, again and again: We need to organize to ensure that public figures — especially politicians and business leaders — are asked key questions, and not let them off the hook the way the traditional media tend to do. Turn the world into a press room.
  • Class at the Mall? When Technology's Evolution Outpaces Cultural Prejudices Virginia Tech is among the many institutions attempting to address educational deficiencies with technology -- even resorting to a "Math Emporium" computer room in one Blacksburg, Virginia shopping mall. Of course, do you really want to go to college in a mall? Luckily, new U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra is already on to these questions.
  • Can Uncle Sam Balance Privacy and Engagement? The set-up for tomorrow's "Privacy and Analytics on Government Web Sites" event in Washington DC promises a refreshing blend of techno-utopianism and cyber conspiracy thinking. The Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Sunlight Foundation are planning to explore the question of what it means to live in a world where the President of the United States wants to be your Facebook friend and the FBI is reading your tweets.
  • McCaskill Responds to Bai Claire McCaskill has an appropriately short and effectively sweet response to Matt Bai's disapproving take on Twitter's growing popularity in Washington politics. Hitting politicians for inane tweeting is something like pointing out that there's a lot of junk on the Internet. But McCaskill's using those tiny bursts of text, she says, to drive conversations in the directions she'd like to see them go. Besides, she's having fun.
  • Orbitz Organizes Online to (Re)Make Cuba a Tourist Hot Spot The online travel company Orbitz is taking an aggressive political stand -- one that may not please all of its customers, but that stands to open up new territories for its travel services. Yesterday, Orbitz launched a spin-off called Open Cuba, and is offering anyone who signs its online petition $100 off future travel to Cuba when and if the Obama Administration lifts Cuba travel restrictions -- and Orbitz can finally offer vacation deals to the island.
  • Open Source as a Check on Contractors' Corrupt Code Sure, the only thing that moves at a more languid pace than federal government procurement reform are arctic ice floes and plotline resolutions on Lost. But there have been signs in recent months that open source software and development are beginning to gain a toe-hold in the federal IT world. And with the development of open source comes, if all goes well, a new regime of checks and balances.
  • Documentarians Seek Relief from DMCA's Catch-22 Documentary filmmakers are hopeful that a change in presidential administrations creates a window in which to sort out a conundrum over fair use, the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act, and copyright that can effectively cut artists off from content to which they have a legal right. Is that "Fair Use?"