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First POST: Collections

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 13 2014


  • President Obama will give a speech this Friday announcing reforms to the National Security Agency.

  • These stories in the Washington Post and The Guardian detail Obama's deliberations about what he may announce, focusing on whether he will continue the NSA's mass surveillance programs.

  • The mass collection of phone records would have had "no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism" in 225 cases in the US since 9-11, according to a new report by the New America Foundation.

  • In advance of "The Day We Fight Back," Demand Progress has released a short video honoring Aaron Swartz that features excerpts from the forthcoming documentary "The Internet's Own Boy." Several clips show Swartz presciently addressing the NSA's surveillance programs.

  • Senator John McCain said Sunday that Congress should investigate the "broken" NSA.

In other news around the web:

  • The AP's Jack Gillum offers a round-up on government officials' use of private email accounts to avoid open records laws pegged to the news that aides to NJ Governor Chris Christie circumvented state laws in their handling of "Bridgegate." Other less-than-open officials: top Obama appointees like HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, who told AP he has never written an email, state or personal, for public business, instead using an untraceable Blackberry message system.

  • Building on Amanda Hess' powerful Pacific Standard piece last week on online harassment, Jill Filipovic courageously explains in TalkingPointsMemo how her own experience shows that it is anything but "virtual."

  • Cancer survivor Xeni Jardin of the BoingBoing blog is going ballistic on Twitter on Emma and Bill Keller for their respective columns in the Guardian and the New York Times about Lisa Adams, a woman who has long shared her fight with cancer online.

  • The Spanish version of,, launched two months late and is rife with clunky translation mistakes that one health care navigator referred to as "written in Spanglish," the Associated Press reports.

  • Matthew Burton, the outgoing Acting CIO of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has earned much praise for its innovative and successful online presence, writes an in-depth guide for other government geeks on how to confront "the practical barriers to better government web products."

  • On his blog Shouting Loudly, David Karpf has posted a smart critique of the A/B testing school of online political organizing, exemplified by the late Aaron Swartz's last unfinished project. His key point: the preferences that users may reveal by what they click on aren't the only things they care about. Thus, "The problem with analytics-based activism is that it can lead us to prioritize issues the most clickable issues, instead of the most important issues."

  • Turkey's government is moving to tighten its already stringent internet censorship laws, seeking the power to block specific websites and keep records of users' Internet activities for up to two years. An expanded definition of privacy could be used to block videos embarrassing to public figures.

  • France's taxi drivers are protesting against the rise of Uber and other private car services, with reports of one Uber car being violently attacked near Paris.

  • A former Swedish district prosecutor writes that he believes Julian Assange's case should be closed, stating that "the situation with Assange and the women is mostly about differences of opinion about the use of condoms. And that's not the type of dispute that's settled in our courts." His earlier dismissive comments about rape were met with criticism in Sweden.