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First POST: Triple Play Special

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 14 2014

More on Comcast-TimeWarner; TED and TEDWomen's policy against bringing up abortion?!; and is social media making it harder for NGOs to get attention for their causes?; and much much more. Read More

First POST: Fight Club

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 11 2014

More than 6,000 websites and organizations are "fighting back" against NSA mass surveillance today; Not included among them, Wikipedia, which was critical to the anti-SOPA/PIPA coalition; a new mobile app Secret seems in tune with the new privacy zeitgeist, or is it?, and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Collections

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 13 2014

The collection of phone meta-data would not have stopped any terrorist attacks since 9-11, says a New America Foundation study; Christie's aides are hardly the only political hacks using personal email to avoid public records laws; Matthew Burton explains how the CFPB's experience can help other govies make better web products; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Broken Heroes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, January 9 2014

Chris Christie's political career threatened by a traffic scandal of his staff's own making; Cory Doctorow and Albert Wenger fear that 2014 may be the year we lose the open web; Upworthy shares what was most shared in 2013; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Kludgeocracy

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 17 2013

Some shocking remarks from a top Silicon Valley VC about the government shutdown; more details on Pierre Omidyar's new online journalism endeavor with Glenn Greenwald; Code for America is thinking about how to help cities go "beyond transparency"; and much, much more. Read More

Democratic Promise: Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013

BY Micah L. Sifry | Saturday, January 12 2013

Aaron Swartz at a Boston Wikipedia Meetup, August 2009, By Sage Ross.

Aaron Swartz, a leading activist for open information, internet freedom, and democracy, died at his own hand Friday January 11. He was 26 years old. There is no single comprehensive list of his good works, but here are some of them: At the age of 14 he co-authored the RSS 1.0 spec--taking brilliant advantage of the fact that internet working groups didn't care if someone was 14, they only cared if their code worked. Then he met Larry Lessig and worked closely with him on the early architecting of Creative Commons, an immense gift to all kinds of sharing of culture. He also was the architect and first coder of the Internet Archive's OpenLibrary.org, which now has made more than one million books freely available to anyone with an internet connection. "We couldn't have come this far without his crucial expertise," Open Library says on its about page. He also co-founded Reddit.com, the social news site, and Demand Progress, an online progressive action group that played a vital role in the anti-SOPA/PIPA fight. He also contributed occasionally to Personal Democracy Forum, writing this article on why wikis work and this essay on "parpolity" or the idea that nested councils of elected representatives could be used to represent a whole country, for our 2008 book, Rebooting America. He was a fellow traveler. Read More

As Controversial Cybersecurity Legislation Moves Through House, Activists Make a Quiet Start

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, April 18 2012

Image: The growing Internet citizenry is using sarcasm, wit and Twitter to draw attention to a controversial cybersecurity bill

After Internet businesses and activists forced the halt of the Stop Online Piracy Act, it seemed as if a new political force had come alive to advocate on Capitol Hill for an Internet with hard limits on government surveillance and a structure that favored free access to information over centralized control. But faced with new cybersecurity legislation that civil liberties groups say would contribute to exactly the opposite, the headline-grabbing protests that defeated SOPA are nowhere to be seen. So what's happening? Read More

Activists Plan Protests Against House Internet Surveillance Bill "CISPA"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, April 11 2012

Image: Shutterstock/Arena Creative

Many of the same organizations that planned the Internet-wide protests that killed the Stop Online Piracy Act are gearing up to launch another high profile demonstration against a controversial piece of cybersecurity legislation that is speeding towards the House floor.

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Editorial: How @Google And Friends Can Build Local Internet Power

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, March 26 2012

Poster from Google's Take Action page against SOPA/PIPA

Just over two months ago, somewhere around 10 million people emailed, called, faxed and otherwise cajoled their Members of Congress to express their opposition to the Stop Online Privacy (SOPA) and Protect IP (PIPA) Acts. An approximated 115,000 websites either went "dark" or joined the campaign in related ways, with Google, Wikipedia, Firefox, Wordpress, and Tumblr all playing leading roles. In two days, legislation that had been moving through Congress like a dose of salts was withdrawn from consideration, with dozens of Members suddenly announcing their opposition, including many who had originally supported the bills. The Internet had won, at least this once. Micah Sifry asks, now what? He writes: "We urgently need a conversation about one other huge piece of the puzzle: What's going to happen with all those email addresses Google and the other anti-SOPA groups collected from people who responded to their call to action on January 18th?" Read More

With Internet Companies In the Fight, Battle Over SOPA Legislation Continues This Week

BY Miranda Neubauer and Nick Judd | Monday, December 12 2011

Photo: ToGa Wanderings / Flickr

After a coalition of advocacy groups and Internet companies worked together to raise awareness about the Stop Online Piracy Act beginning Nov. 16, they are now gearing up for another push to online action this week as the House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up the bill on Thursday.

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News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

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EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”

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