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Internet Privacy: Are Lawmakers Thinking About It All Wrong?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, September 4 2013

How do we get back to the world where nobody knows if you're a dog? Photo: Flickr/Jesse757

Is it time to move past "Do Not Track" as the solution to pervasive online invasions of privacy? Sarah Lai Stirland takes a walk along the digital frontier where privacy activists and data entrepreneurs are diligently carving out some radical new approaches to the problem. Read More

Cory Booker Routes Around Capitol Hill Veteran To Win The Tech Vote

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, August 9 2013

Cory Booker, pictured with Biz Stone and Randi Zuckerberg, 2009. Photo: loiclemeur/Flicker

Silicon Valley is placing its bets behind business-friendly Booker, and in the process is ignoring a stalwart champion of some of their interests on Capitol Hill Rush Holt. Read More

Film Review: Hoback's "Terms and Conditions May Apply" On the Cost of "Free" Online

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, July 31 2013

Filmmaker Cullen Hoback asks Mark Zuckerberg: ""Do you still think privacy is dead? What are your real thoughts on privacy?"

Cullen Hoback's important new film, "Terms and Conditions May Apply," takes the debate over online privacy from abstract and academic into something that is easier for people to relate to their daily experience. Read More

New Organizing Institute to Move from Collecting Election Data to Organizing Election Officials

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, June 18 2013

The New Organizing Institute, a progressive nonprofit that trains campaigners and is no led by former Obama for America data director Ethan Roeder, is launching a new initiative next week aiming to "fix that" for local elections. NOI will announce a national network where local election administration officials can congregate to share solutions to common issues. It's a transition for a team at NOI that had previously been managing the Voting Information Project, which collects data on polling places, election districts and voter registration deadlines and prepares it for third parties in machine-readable format. In the 2012 election cycle, backed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and partnered with Google, VIP made information available in all 50 states. Read More

U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board To Meet Next Wednesday

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, June 13 2013

A long dormant independent agency that was at least nominally supposed to exercise a modicum of oversight over the booming intelligence-industrial complex is scrambling to meet up next Wednesday, but the public will ... Read More

Google To Justice Department: Let Us Publish National Security Requests

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, June 11 2013

Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond on Tuesday published an open letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller asking for permission to publish the number and scope of national security-related requests that it receives. In effect, the company is asking the government to lift a gag, imposed in the name of national security, on disclosing the extent to which the search-engine giant passes along user information to the federal government. Read More

WeGov

Google Follows UN Lead In Recognizing Palestine

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 3 2013

Screengrab from Google Palestine

Palestinian Googlers might have noticed something different about their search engine homepage on Thursday. Google has changed the subheading of the Palestinian edition, Google.ps, from the “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine.” This acknowledgement by the search giant follows the United Nations decision in November 2012 to recognize Palestine as a non-member state, in spite of objections by the US and Israel.

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WeGov

Google Launches Mobile Micropayments in Africa

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 30 2013

A Nairobi matatu (bus) (Wikipedia)

Google just announced the launch of rebranded electronic payment system BebaPay in Kenya, home to the popular and successful mobile money system M-Pesa. With the BebaPay card, Google tackles the notoriously chaotic bus system in Kenya. The BebaPay card standardizes fares and provides riders with receipts, protecting them from unscrupulous conductors charging hiked up fares or not providing change. And it costs consumers next to nothing: the card is free and there are no transaction fees, although cell phone operators can charge to transfer money to the card. With all those perks, many are asking, “What’s the catch?”

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Google's Eric Schmidt and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Get One Another's Jokes

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, April 23 2013

Eric Schmidt. Photo: LeWeb12

As part of research for their new book, Jared Cohen and Eric Schmidt met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2011. The full conversation, according to a transcript and recording WikiLeaks has published online, ranged from the technical details of WikiLeaks' methods for avoiding censorship in China to Assange's political theories about control of, and access to, information. Their brief conceptual stop in Rwanda — which, Assange suggested, would have gone differently had WikiLeaks been around — was one of many. Read More

WeGov

Google’s Eric Schmidt on the Future Digital Police State

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 22 2013

YouTube sensations have no idea (Youtube video screengrab)

When Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to North Korea in January, techPresident picked up on his daughter’s astonishing observations of a staged photo-op of students “engaging” with the Internet. They took the trip as part of his research for the book “The New Digital Age,” co-written with Jared Cohen, which goes on sale Tuesday. Schmidt and Cohen elaborated on their experience in a long Wall Street Journal essay this past weekend. They concluded that, while the Internet is not an incorruptible, unimpeachable force of good, “no country is worse off because of the Internet.”

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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