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First POST: The 113th Congress

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 3 2013

  • Biting the hand that feeds: Trade groups representing Google, Microsoft and Facebook applaud the inclusion of an R&D tax credit extension in the fiscal cliff deal, according to The Hill. Silicon Valley isn't the only sector to cash in on the fiscal cliff deal.

    Pandodaily's Sarah Lacy has ripped into Congress for its handling of the fiscal cliff debacle, taking the opportunity to reiterate Silicon Valley's disdain for Capitol Hill.

    "Tech pubs haven’t covered this much– unlike every other media outlet on the planet– so I’m no expert on what it all means and whether it’ll pass the House of Representatives and all that," she wrote.

    It did pass the House and was signed by the president — by autopen, natch. And it included provisions that make Silicon Valley's more politically aware corners less dubious of the cliff deal, if for equally dubious reasons.

  • Gun nuts: After the Lower Hudson Journal-News published the addresses of Westchester County, N.Y. gun owners in an interactive database, a debate flared up about privacy and data. It's the latest example of the growing disconnect between what people think is private and what has always been public, but only recently searchable. At Reuters, Jack Shafer weighs in:

    Exactly how publishing public-record data constitutes privacy invasion is a topic worthy of a Poynter Institute seminar. By its very definition, the public record is not private. Under New York state law, the information the Journal News obtained from Westchester and Rockland county authorities can be obtained by anybody who asks for it. And even though it will deflate the sails of the boycotters, their protest is futile. No law prevents individuals from making the same pistol permit request from the counties and posting their own maps if Gannett and the Journal News surrender and delete theirs. I’d wager that somebody has already scraped the data from the Journal News site and will repost it if the paper goes wobbly.

  • From the wonky-even-for-you-dept: On The Volokh Conspiracy, David R. Johnson and David G. Post have published a post suggesting that Facebook's recent move to end a mechanism for public comment on its terms of service and privacy policy is a chance to rethink how online terms of service should work.

  • Time Warner Cable will not carry Current TV after was announced that Al Gore's network was purchased by the Qatar-based, Qatar-state-owned Al Jazeera, and its spots on cable networks would be replaced by a new American version of the news network. Yahoo reports that neither Comcast or DirecTV, which also carry Current, have announced plans to drop the network.

  • White House photographer Pete Souza has released a "Year in Photos" photo set on Flickr. (Via Alex Fitzpatrick)

  • We're just now seeing a Dec. 27 op-ed from former special assistant to the president and now Harvard visiting professor Susan Crawford observing that partly due to the way Internet service providers are regulated, Americans pay more money for slower Internet access.

  • Open government guy, former New York State Senate and World Economic Forum staffer, and civic hacker Noel Hidalgo is now at work heading up Code for America's New York office. (No link)

  • What 1.5 million 311 service requests look like.

  • Proponents of the DATA Act, which would create a unified and machine-readable database of all federal spending, are gearing up in hopes of getting on the agenda for the 113th Congress, which convenes today for the first time.

  • East Bay Express carries an optimistic look at civic hacking and its potential for problem-ridden Oakland, Calif.

  • Probably the wrong account:

    Deleted from Rep. Jan Schakowski's (D-Ill.) Twitter account was a link to the "Computer Man" video.

  • Glenn Greenwald thinks Twitter's compliance with French law governing hate speech is a bad idea. Around this time last year, Twitter created a mechanism to deny access to Twitter posts in countries where they might be against the law. It was heralded at the time as a way to balance access to Twitter everywhere with censorship of certain speech — such as hate speech in much of Europe — in particular places.

  • The European Commission has launched an open data portal in public beta.