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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.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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