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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

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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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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