First POST: Fixing Elections
BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 31 2013
Fix the vote
Following President Barack Obama's inaugural mention of electoral administration, House Democrats have introduced H.R. 12, the Voter Empowerment Act of 2013. Among other things, the bill would require states to provide online voter registration, clarifies voter ID requirements, sets standards for privacy — including a provision that victims of domestic violence, for example, might have their information retained by the state but withheld from view — and lays out guidelines to improve accuracy of the voter rolls.
The bill has been referred to several House committees.
Chinese hackers get behind the paywall
The New York Times reports that people in China attempted to access its reporters' email addresses and gain other information from its computer networks:
The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings.
Building towards reform?
Google and Twitter transparency reports released earlier this week expand a conversation about online privacy in a way that what's available from the government simply won't do, Miranda Neubauer writes:
"The government is so secretive that the only way we can get this information is through the companies," [the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Trevor] Timm told techPresident.
As a result, only companies like Google and Facebook are providing the kinds of information that watchdogs and members of Congress need when considering how to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act — a law consistently invoked when defining online privacy despite the fact that it is 27 years old and predates the modern Internet.
Companies like Facebook or cellphone carriers should release similar information, he said.
No honor among pirates?
A must-read from Lisa Goldman: "In a case of life echoing fiction, Israel, a country of just over 7 million, has two Pirate Parties. One is called Pirate Party Israel and the other the Israel Pirate Party. Neither party recognizes the legitimacy of the other; nor do their founders have anything positive to say about one another.
More: “Unlike the pirate parties in the other countries,” [said Pirate Party Israel founder Ohad Shem-Tov, whose party took .06 percent of the vote in Knesset elections], “We are serious.”
Around the web
One of our favorite things at techPresident is the "Personal Explanations" tumblr, which documents when members of Congress ask that a change of their vote be noted in the Congressional Record as well as the sometimes absurd excuses given by members who miss a vote. Today Personal Explanations catches Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in action:
As some Supreme Court Justice said sometime, sunlight keeps
mold from happening, or something to that effect.
Nextgov's Joseph Marks writes: "Every federal agency’s information technology shop should include workers with expertise in social media, open government and cloud computing. That's according to new guidance from the federal Chief Information Officers Council."
In Minnesota, a business-to-business online exchange to help distribute flu vaccines.
Mobile phones are proliferating in Africa, but when it comes to coverage, reception is still very spotty in rural areas, Reuters reports.
The British-made Raspberry Pi, a credit-card-sized, bare-bones computer available for $35, will be headed to UK schools to help kids learn programming and computer science thanks to support from Google. While your First POST editor uses a Raspberry Pi as a front end for his home media center, the tiny computer was always intended to be a cheap and easy starter kit for kids to learn computing from the ground up — to understand what technology is and what it can do, rather than only what a vendor allows it to do, and to think like a maker rather than a consumer.