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Privacy Advocates Put Microsoft's Transparency Report In Context

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, March 25 2013

Microsoft's publication of its first law enforcement transparency report last Thursday met with praise from privacy advocates, who hope that this will spur others to do the same. However, some of them warned that the numbers have to be viewed in broader context. Read More

San Francisco Tells New York: Our Data Is Bigger Than Your Data

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, March 25 2013

Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

San Francisco city officials have watched their brethren in New York have a day in the sun for a new emphasis on what you might call data-driven governance — and they're ready for their turn. Read More

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Ends His Tenure Not With a Bang, but a "Meh"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, March 22 2013

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski told the commission's staff Friday that he's stepping down in the next few weeks. Telecommunications observers and experts say that under Genachowski's tenure, the FCC did a serviceable — if unambitious — job of addressing necessary changes in policy to adapt to broadband Internet and a shifting communications landscape. Read More

Microsoft Finally Reveals Statistics on Law Enforcement Requests for User Information

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, March 21 2013

Microsoft on Thursday reported that law enforcement authorities around the globe had made 75,378 requests for information about the users of its services in 2012. The company said that those requests "impacted potentially 137,424 accounts." It estimates that these requests affected less than .02 percent of its active users. Read More

Organizing for Action Is Ramping Up

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, March 21 2013

Organizing for Action isn't wasting time letting the lessons of 2012 languish. The campaign is ramping up and just sent out a list of positions that it's looking to fill. Among those wanted: e-mail strategists and ... Read More

Lawmakers Ponder the Dawn of a Drone-Surveillance State

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, March 20 2013

Senate lawmakers on Wednesday grappled with the question of how they can preserve the privacy rights of American citizens as domestic uses of unmanned aircraft take off both in the private sector and in the world of law enforcement. Read More

Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell To Step Down

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, March 20 2013

Robert McDowell, a Republican commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, said during a public Wednesday morning meeting that he's leaving the agency. Read More

What "Growth and Opportunity" Means for a Digital GOP

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, March 18 2013

Several conservative operatives and party alumni expressed cautious optimism on Monday as the Republican National Committee issued a 100-page report that implicitly acknowledged their criticisms, and then outlined a framework for revamping its operations to correct those deficiencies. Some Democrats, meanwhile, took notice of the Republican Party's efforts — and took it as a sign that they shouldn't be complacent in the afterglow from electoral victories on several fronts in 2012. Read More

The Tech Arms Race Is On: Democratic National Committee Is Also Hiring

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, March 15 2013

The Republicans aren't the only ones looking for tech talent. The Democrats are too. The Democratic National Committee is hiring a new tech team, to be directed by the DNC's Technology Director Bryan Whitaker. An e-mail ... Read More

Elizabeth Warren's Digital Director Joins Bully Pulpit Interactive

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, March 14 2013

Lauren Miller, who served as Elizabeth Warren's new media director during the then-Democratic candidate's 2012 bid for the Massachusetts' senate seat, has joined Bully Pulpit Interactive in Washington, DC as a senior ... Read More

News Briefs

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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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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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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

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