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First POST: Sympathy for the Developer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Is the lack of hierarchy, or "holocracy," what ails Silicon Valley?; WhatsApp promises to protect user privacy; MySociety gets to tell Parliament exactly what to do; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Contained Fury

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 30 2013

Members of the House Intelligence Committee disagree about whether the NSA has kept them fully informed; Sen. Rand Paul a serial plagiarizer?; An antidote to technolibertarianism; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Hearing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 27 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What Dianne Feinstein doesn't understand about metadata and surveillance; ActBlue's new one-click fundraising tool; Josh Marshall's college days with Ted Cruz; and much, much more. Read More

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: Egypt

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 15 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Reacting to the massacres in Egypt; Bradley Manning apologizes; Pew Internet says the kids are all right; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Commandeered

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 13 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersThe inside story of how Edward Snowden won Laura Poitras' trust; reconciling open data with the NSA scandal; the new Pew research on where people go to get their news; and much, much more. Read More

The Internet Association Wants To Crowdsource Its Lobbying

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, July 15 2013

The Internet Association's new Web site wants to engage Internet users in the policy process

The Internet Association on Monday launched a new online hub that its staff hope will open up the Beltway policymaking process to the public -- or at least encourage Internet companies' users to weigh in more often, and ... Read More

Mike Masnick: Accidental Activist to Some, "Demagogue" to Others

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, May 10 2012

Mike Masnick, founder and CEO of Techdirt and Floor64, Photo: Flickr/Dennis Yang

Mike Masnick runs Techdirt.com, one of the most popular hubs on the web for news and opinion about innovation policy and the Internet. His uncompromising views on copyright have made him one of the most controversial and widely-read voices in a sprawling international conversation about the future of creative industry. Read More

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 Newfound Influence, Will Internet Organizers Hack Politics As Usual?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, January 30 2012

MPAA Chief Chris Dodd should perhaps talk to the public via Reddit, rather than the "tech industry." Photo: Flickr/Wil Wheaton

The recent mass protests both online and off against anti-piracy legislation moving through Congress provided a tantalizing hint of the possibilities that can emerge when the powerful companies of Silicon Valley combine forces with grassroots organizers empowered with the tools of the web. Individuals from the usually disparate worlds of non-profits, venture capital, politics and programming and elsewhere united briefly for one day, took direction from more experienced activists and used the tools at their disposal to pull whatever levers they could to get their message across to legislators. Will the extraordinary success of the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) change the one industry that has resisted the disruptive influence of the internet, the industry of lobbyists on K-Street? Or will the moment pass — to be regarded in history as quirky exception to the general rule in which lobbyists almost always emerge triumphant? Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

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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