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First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Greased

  • Politifact, home of the "Truth-o-Meter" and one of the US's main fact-checking sites, is soon launching a sister site called PunditFact, which will check claims made by pundits, columnists, bloggers and the hosts and guest of talk shows. Seed money came from Craig Newmark's craigconnects, and additional funding ($625,000) is coming over two years from the Ford Foundation and the Omidyar Network's Democracy Fund. IMHO, this couldn't be more needed.

  • Revolution Messaging, the mobile politicking shop that grew out of part of the 2008 Obama campaign's online team, just launched DrunkDialCongress.org, a site that helps you blow off some steam at a random Congress-critter, preferably after you've had a few. Type in your phone number and it will call you back while connecting you to Congressman Birdbrain.

  • Tom Lee, the director of Sunlight Labs (full disclosure, I am a senior advisor to the Sunlight Foundation), takes to TalkingPointsMemo Cafe to explain why drunk-dialing Congress is "socially destructive." He also is on GigaOm explaining "The crisis for government data in a 21st century shutdown." Did I mention that he also codes?

  • More on the Healthcare.gov mess: Clay Johnson blogs on his Department of Better Technology site that the main contract was "greased"--that is, the work to build the hub was added to an existing contract HHS had with CGI Federal, rather than put out to open public bid. And he points out, the regulations covering government website development, as promulgated by Congress, are hopelessly out-of-date (they still require sites to be Y2K compliant!) and inflexible.

  • Sousveillance Dept.: One of the motorcycle bikers arrested in the aftermath of the infamous assault on a SUV driver on NYC's West Side Highway was an off-duty undercover police officer. Turns out, as Gothamist reports, he was also engaged in months of undercover spying on the Occupy Wall Street movement, a fact verified by activists as they combed thru old photos and pooled their memories of "Albert," whose real name is Wojciech Braszczok. One Occupier remembers "Albert" coming to his birthday party till 4:30 am. " “It really creeps me out, to be honest with you,” he said. “I wish I knew more: What was he expecting to find out? I mean, going to protests or meetings, I guess there’s something to that. But why are you coming to my birthday party?"

  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation is leaving the Global Network Initiative (GNI), reports The Hill's Hillicon Valley. "Until serious reforms of the US surveillance programs are in place, we no longer feel comfortable participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced to make," EFF's International Director Danny O'Brien and Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian C. York told GNI. GNI was launched in 2008 with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo and civil society organizations like EFF as equal partners, with a focus on developing broad policies to defend online freedom. It recently added Facebook, LinkedIn, Procera, Evoca, Websense and the PEN American Center as partners. EFF says it will continue to share information and work closely with GNI.

  • Irpileaks, the first Italian platform for anonymous leaking, is live, running on GlobalLeaks free-software. Would-be leakers are advised to also use Tor, the site notes. (IRPI is the Investigative Reporting Project Italy.)

  • A new round of "Aaron Swartz Hackathons" are being coordinated around the dates of November 8-10. Confirmed locations so far: Berlin, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

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