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First POST: Drip, Drip

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 11 2013

Drip, Drip

  • New documents released by the NSA show repeated violations of its own privacy rules for the handling of Americans' phone records, reports the Guardian. The violations occurred "on a daily basis," Judge Reggie Walton, who is now the FISA court's top judge, wrote.

  • In related news, Rep. Darrell Issa has changed his mind and is now urging another vote on the Amash amendment that would have halted the NSA's collection of phone metadata. Issa voted against the Amash proposal in July, when it came within just a few votes of passage.

  • President Obama's new "Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies" is seeking public comment on how the US use its technical sophistication at surveillance "while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties" and "recognizing our need to maintain the public trust." So the Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling on its supporters to chime in, noting in particular the opportunity for people outside the United States to weigh in with comments explaining how the NSA's dragnet programs are harming America's foreign relations.

  • After Johns Hopkins officials asked a computer science professor and cryptography expert to take down a blog post critical of the NSA, critical press attention got the university to back down. Jay Rosen asks some hard questions about the university's actions, and says it makes him worry about academic freedom in the age of the surveillance state.

  • The Atlantic has a nice feature on a recent "cryptoparty" in Germany, where concerns about personal online privacy run high. This one was hosted by a German legislator who belongs to the fledgling Pirate Party, and featured Jacob Applebaum explaining how to use the TOR browser.

In other news around the web:

  • After insisting that it was important, both for America's national security and for the strength of its "democracy," to have Congress vote on authorizing the use of military force in Syria, last night President Obama declared that he was postponing that vote to allow diplomacy to proceed.

  • In Colorado, Republican gun rights supporters successfully recalled two Democratic state senators who represent relatively safe Democratic districts in response to their support for tough new firearms rules. According to theAtlas Project, groups aligned with the Democratic incumbents spent $2.3 million to defend their seats, while the GOP spent just $482,000, 3/4 of that coming from the NRA. Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos also noted that the Democrats ran nearly all of the almost 2,500 ads that were aired during the campaign, whereas the Republicans didn't run one. His takeaway:

    As I've long written, our biggest danger moving forward isn't ideology or public opinion, it's the apathy of our own base. Our base groups -- young voters, ethnic and racial minorities, single women -- are the lowest performing groups. We're in great shape in presidential elections, no doubt. We're in dicier territory in mid-term and special elections.

  • Techies are still pressing for immigration reform, despite the Syria crisis and gridlock in Washington, Politico reports.

  • Tom Slee attacks the "sharing economy" with his characteristic brio, though his real target is the just-launched Peers.org, whose cardinal sin, to Slee, is that it is being funded by companies and VCs more interested in exploiting people than empowering them. Well, IMHO, it's hardly a given that Peers is going to just give cover to rapacious capitalists--why don't we give them a chance to get going first?

  • Wanna know how the recently concluded Australian elections played out on Facebook? Here are your answers. (h/t Katie Harbath)

  • The comedians at Second City have put together this parody of a Kickstarter launch video: this one is from "Americans for Whatever Barack Obama Wants," and it's called "Help Kickstart World War III."

  • Did all fifteen members of Iran's government cabinet just get on Facebook?

  • Alec Ross, the former senior advisor for innovation under Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State, is writing a book on the future of globalization for Simon & Schuster.

  • Beth Noveck has posted the curriculum for her "Gov 3.0" Fall 2013 class on "Solving Public Problems with Technology" on GitHub.