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First POST: Inclemency

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, January 3 2014

Inclemency

  • The New York Times editorial calling for clemency for Edward Snowden continues to make waves, with Buzzfeed reporting on the news that several Members of Congress have said they are open to its conclusion, Firedoglake blogger Kevin Gosztola asking why the paper hasn't applied the same whistleblower label to Chelsea Manning, and former NSA director Michael Hayden telling the Daily Beast that clemency for Snowden would be "outrageous."

  • Matthew Keys rounds up responses from Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other tech companies whose services and products were reportedly (per Der Spiegel) compromised by the NSA.

  • Glenn Greenwald thinks most tech companies were hypocritical, telling Salon's Natasha Lennard that they were "completely content to cooperate with the NSA, far beyond what the law required," until the extent of the NSA's activities became public.

  • Bob Swartz, Aaron's father, can't walk through MIT without feeling that the university "betrayed his son," Janelle Nanos writes in a moving portrait for Boston Magazine. “I see Aaron on every corner,” he says. “I pass by the building. I see MIT police. I remember, I remember him…” he sighs. “We spent a lot of time here. There are all sorts of painful aspects of what happened. They come back.”

  • Alexis Madrigal's deconstruction of Netflix's internal tagging system for movies is a must-read (as are some of the reader comments trying to explain the "Perry Mason" effect). One wonders, if Netflix's data about its users' predilections can be used to help it fine-tune what movies or series it should make, could a similar data set about voters and their preferences in politicians tell a political party what kind of candidates it should recruit?

  • Ravi Somaiya reports for the New York Times that Ezra Klein, the multimedia policy maven, is exploring taking his Wonkblog site independent after his proposal to expand it to a more general explanatory journalism site was rejected by the Post's publisher Katharine Weymouth and owner Jeff Bezos.

  • NY's Gothamist reports that students across the city peppered Dante de Blasio's Facebook page with requests that he convince his dad, the new mayor, to declare a rare snow day for the city's public schools.

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.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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