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In Obama Administration’s People-Powered Digital Security Initiative, There’s Lots of Security, Fewer People

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, March 27 2014

Photo: Flickr/www.perspecsys.com

President Obama in 2011 launched an ambitious initiative to rid our digital world of passwords and replace them with new systems with which to identify ourselves. The goal was to make our digital accounts and transactions less hackable and prone to fraud. As Bob Blakley, Citigroup’s director of security innovation put it: “[The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace] is a unique opportunity; it’s the first time a government has offered to accept identity credentials of the citizen’s choice, rather than to impose credentials on the citizens.” But three years into this supposedly citizen-powered process, Kaliya Hamlin, one of the group’s own management council members, and a privacy activist and conference organizer, is charging that the effort is less diverse and inclusive of the citizenry than it should be, and instead is being overtaken by the executives in the digital-security industry. Read More

Public Good Software Lands Half A Million In Seed Funding to Bring Data-Driven Campaigning to NonProfits [UPDATED]

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, March 11 2014

A group of former Obama techies want to port their campaign and entrepreneurial experiences to the world of non-profits, and help them to operate better. Read More

Practitioner's Toolbox: One Political Startup's Efforts To Engage Potential Supporters Online

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, February 26 2014

Pennsylvania businessman Tom Wolf's 'about' page uses parallax scrolling to lead the audience through the story of his life

Pennsylvania businessman Tom Wolf's digital team is making the most of the traffic to the candidate's 'about' page to try to engage them and to turn them into active supporters. Here's how they're doing that. Read More

Republican National Committee's Biggest Challenge Isn't Tech, It's Culture

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, February 10 2014

The Republican's existential brand crisis: What does Republican stand for? Photo: RNC.

The Republican National Committee's launch of its tech incubator Para Bellum Labs last week sparked off several rounds of derision online -- complete with a microsite mocking the committee's effort to adopt Silicon Valley startup culture. But veterans of President Obama's presidential campaigns say that the data and tech deficit isn't the biggest problem facing the Republicans. It's an organizational one. Read More

Besieged Campaign Tech Company ElectionMall Has Had A Troubled History

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, January 31 2014

ElectionMall, the otherwise low-profile campaign technology company in Washington, D.C., hit the headlines recently when a criminal complaint against its Founder and CEO Ravi Singh was unsealed, revealing that the ... Read More

Uber Sued By Parents of Six-Year-Old Killed On New Year's Eve

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, January 27 2014

A New Year Eve's accident that killed a six-year-old in San Francisco is reviving the debate over ride-sharing and insurance

The parents of the six-year-old girl who was killed on New Year's Eve by a driver who was using UberX to find rides filed suit against the company on Monday. The family's lawyer Christopher Dolan said that this is the first wrongful death lawsuit filed against Uber. The local tragedy registered as a blip on the national radar news screen because it involved the white hot urban transportation provider Uber, which with its $361. 2 million in venture capital funding late last summer, is poised to transform urban transportation as we currently know it. Its flagship service is a mobile on-demand limo service that enables commercially insured town cars to find nearby hails with the app. It also operates UberX, a lower-cost peer-to-peer ride-sharing service in 24 cities and states in the United States. UberX is one of several mobile services that connects drivers with their own cars to people who need to get around town, sets and processes payments, and takes a 20 percent cut of the transactions. The insurance status of this arrangement isn’t as clear-cut, and the New Year’s Eve accident brings back into sharp focus the still fuzzy question of who should be held financially liable when there’s no designated central company entrusted with all the traditional legal and financial obligations of a commercial taxi service. Read More

Social Media-Fueled Black Friday Walmart Protests Becoming A Holiday Tradition, But Management Is Fighting Back

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, November 26 2013

AssociateVoices.org is a tool created by Making Change At Walmart to enable crowdsourced reporting

As the public discussion about the middle class' stagnating economic status grows more and more heated, some people will be taking to the streets on Black Friday not for deals, but to point fingers at one of the culprits that they think is a major influencer of the situation. Read More

Obama Veterans Partner Up To Enable Long-Tail Media Campaigns

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, November 21 2013

This map from GMMB and Civis Analytics displays patterns of the percentages of uninsured populations in the U.S.

The Democratically-oriented GMMB advertising communications company is partnering with Civis Analytics to offer clients the same "Optimizer" tool that the Obama campaign used to more efficiently target its television advertising and messaging at voters that its analysts had determined were persuadable. Read More

San Francisco Mayor's Office Unveils 11 Finalists For Entrepreneurship-in-Residence Program

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, November 20 2013

The San Francisco Mayor's Office of Innovation has unveiled 11 finalists to potentially participate in its Entrepreneurship-in-Residence program. Read More

NGP VAN Brings Obama Campaign Startup National Field Into The Fold

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, November 14 2013

NGP VAN significantly expanded its suite of offerings Thursday when it announced that it has acquired the political tech startup National Field, which was born out of President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. The ... Read More

News Briefs

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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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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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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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