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First POST: Insecurity

BY Nick Judd | Friday, July 26 2013

Around the web

  • A House hearing next Wednesday will, for the first time since Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of National Security Agency surveillance of Americans, focus on testimony from the spy agency's critics.

  • The vote forced House members supportive of NSA surveillance to defend their position to constituents.

  • Were Russia to extradite Snowden, the U.S. would not seek the death penalty, the U.S. Department of Justice informed the federation in a letter dated July 23.

    The AP implies that the move is meant, in part, to make it more difficult for Snowden to get asylum in Russia. Snowden is, as of the most recent reports, still holed up in the transit zone of a Moscow airport, bereft of passport and thus with no legal means of leaving his international purgatory.

  • Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying evidence in the case of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, incurring a maximum fine of $200,000.

    The corporation makes about $7 million in revenue every three months. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, aboard a rig majority owned by BP, claimed 11 lives and caused widespread ecological damage, engulfing shores from Louisiana to Florida in balls of oily sludge and compromising one of America's most crucial fisheries.

    Halliburton has also agreed to a separate, $55 million voluntary payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Guardian reports.

  • Forbes privacy blogger Kashmir Hill gained access to control software for eight private homes over the Internet, sparking two separate conversations — one about the security of home automation systems, the other about how prosecutions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act can stifle efforts to identify and fix exactly these kinds of potentially serious flaws.

  • The Pope is the most influential person on Twitter, says the Catholic News Service, citing Burston-Marstellers' recent "Twiplomacy" study of world leaders on the social network.

  • The Associated Press reports that what White House officials have been billing as a customer experience for health insurance exchange customers akin to high-end ecommerce sites will be more like a long phone call to a call center as tight deadlines and political upheaval are forcing states and federal officials to make compromises.

  • Also from the AP: "President Barack Obama's administration is courting female bloggers to play a role in a massive campaign aimed at informing the public about the benefits of the new health care law."

  • Mobile app makers are considering voluntary standards that would lead them to disclose what data they were collecting on users.

  • GovTech explores the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship at University of Chicago, asking if there is merit to the idea that "data scientists" should start thinking about social problems.

  • Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), running against Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Rep. Rush Holt, and state Speaker Sheila Oliver for the Democratic nomination in a special election for U.S. Senate, held a Reddit AMA, answering questions from the community's members.

  • Sarah Stirland explains Capitol Bells, an app that helps users stay up-to-date with action on the House floor.