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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And he points out, the regulations covering government website development, as promulgated by Congress, are hopelessly out-of-date (they still require sites to be Y2K compliant!)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 tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

GO

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

GO

wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

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EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”

GO

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