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First POST: Spirit Guide

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 13 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersHow the NSA's programs may cost US tech businesses overseas; one Obama campaign tech guru's cryptic vision of the future; Tea Leaf Nation finds a new home; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Not Psyched

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 12 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer offer their responses to the NSA revelations; the "tech intellectuals" get their academic review; educational technology moves in on public schools; and much, much more. 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

First POST: Zombies

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 10 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA thinks of smartphone users as "zombies" and Steve Jobs as "big brother"; TechCrunch Disrupt gets another self-inflicted black eye; NYC voters are sharing "selfies" of themselves voting; 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

First POST: Verbed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 9 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The pushback on NSA overreach starts to grow; why the Verizon vs FCC case is a big deal; Politico extends its reach into New York; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Exploitable

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 6 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: How the NSA is breaking the Internet; a peek at the inside of the GOP's new Data Center; campaign contributions in bitcoin; and much, much more. 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: This Town

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersIs Washington too obsessed with itself to gauge public opinion on Syria correctly?; Al Gore's incredibly shrinking climate change group; and the best executive director monthly report you've ever seen; plus much, much more. Read More

First POST: Twitterization

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The download on Peter Hamby's must-read report on Twitter's impact on 2012 campaign coverage; Jeff Bezos gives some clues to his plans for the Washington Post; Ethan Zuckerman thinks citizen science could help reduce NIMBYism; and much, much more. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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