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First POST: Today's Big Disaster

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, February 13 2014

Comcast's bid to buy Time Warner Cable could be a huge disaster for consumers and Internet users in America; the connections between online resistance, state surveillance, and data-driven political targeting; more roundups of The Day We Fight Back; and much, much more. Read More

Sublime to Absurd: The HealthCare.gov Debate, From Procurement Reform to Cats and Jon Stewart

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, October 23 2013

Many commentators in the past few days have criticized the media coverage of Healthcare.gov's launch problems, highlighting what they see as a lack of technical understanding. Meanwhile, the issue has sparked a complex, passionate discussion among some experts on Twitter debating the root of the problems, comparisons with the Obama campaign's Narwhal system, the difference between campaign and government technology, the inherent flaws in the procurement process and how to improve government technology. Three of the key figures in the ongoing Twitter debate, storified below, over the past few days were Clay Johnson, technologist, founder of Blue State Digital and a 2012 Presidential Innovation Fellow, writer and consultant Clay Shirky, and Harper Reed, CTO of Obama's 2012 election campaign. While among them and others the discussion has been a wonky, almost philosophical conversation about the role of technology and government, rooted in their experiences, Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday opted for a more sensational approach when he decided to cite Johnson's Oct. 7 blog post calling the contractors "sloppy" to create "8 Cats Who Called 1-800-ObamaCare but Still Couldn’t Get Healthcare." 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

New Report on NSA's Privacy Violations Fuels Movement for Surveillance Reform

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, August 16 2013

Photo: Jeff Schuler/Flickr

A startling new report published late Thursday evening that reveals for the first time thousands of instances where the National Security Agency overstepped its legal authority by illegally collecting the phone and e-mail communications of U.S. citizens is likely to put privacy and surveillance issues on the front-burner next month when members of Congress return to Washington D.C. from the August recess. Read More

This Week, Congress To Critique Obama On Tech in Government

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, July 8 2013

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director Office of Management and Budget (middle) is in charge of Obama's new management agenda

President Obama on Monday touted his administration's use of technology and data analysis for a more efficient government ahead of a mid-week House hearing that is likely to be critical of his administration's performance. Read More

DATA Act, Promising to Increase Federal Spending Accountability, Rises Again

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, May 17 2013

Rep. Eric Cantor & Rep. Darrell Issa at Data Demonstration Day (Flickr/Majority Leader)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R.-Calif) plans to reintroduce the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, which aims to open up and standardize the federal government's spending data. The House passed an earlier version of the bill in April of 2012, but it had not moved forward in the Senate. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which Issa chairs, has now posted a discussion draft of a new version of the legislation. The committee will begin marking up the legislation this coming Wednesday, according to Daniel Schuman, policy counsel at the Sunlight Foundation. Read More

Benghazi Becomes #Benghazi as Oversight Committee Streams Hearing Online

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, May 8 2013

The House Oversight Committee is streaming its Wednesday proceedings live as committee members hear testimony from State Department personnel concerning the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks. The hearing is being broadcast live over YouTube and, as of this writing, has more than 2,800 simultaneous viewers. Read More

Redditors Suspicious Of Congressman Issa's No New Internet Regs Proposal

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, November 29 2012

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)'s Legislative Director Laurent Crenshaw and Issa at a PDF cocktail party this June

Several Redditors reacted skeptically Wednesday to California House Republican Darrell Issa's town-hall visit to the online forum advocating a new bill that would put a two-year moratorium on new Internet regulations. Read More

A Platform for Open Bill Markup Is Now Open Source

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, September 12 2012

When House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa announced that he was rolling out a platform for collaborative bill markup, called MADISON, in conjunction with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), his staff assured techPresident that it would be released as open source — sometime.

That time has come. Yesterday, the Open Gov Foundation, an outgrowth of Issa and Wyden's partnership that was announced at Personal Democracy Forum earlier this year, posted the code for MADISON to GitHub.Read More

Timeline Update: January 17, 1994--Carl Malamud Launches Free Online Access to SEC EDGAR Records

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, August 17 2012

Soon after launching the Politics and the Internet timeline, we saw a tweet from long-time tech publisher and visionary Tim O'Reilly, retweeting a plug from Rep. Darrell Issa, but adding "Alas, omits @carlmalamud's work RT @DarrellIssa: An interactive history of the Internet & politics..." I immediately responded that it was an unintentional oversight, as Malamud is truly the modern open data movement's founding father. Here's the update to the timeline, which was just added. 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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