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First POST: Obscurity

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 4 2014

Obscurity

  • Taking advantage of a slight loosening of government restrictions, major Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, LinkedIn and Facebook have started publishing how many government requests for user data they have received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

  • Kevin Bankston, the Policy Director of New America’s Open Technology Institute, commented to Sam Gustin of Time magazine that, “What these reports reveal is far less than what we need for adequate accountability from the government. Lumping all of the different types of surveillance orders together into one number, then adding obscurity on top of obscurity by requiring that number to be reported in ranges of one thousand, is not enough to educate the American public or reassure the international community that the NSA is using its surveillance authorities responsibly.”

  • Trevor Paglen has turned his cameras on American spy satellites, with startling results, our Jessica McKenzie writes.

  • The Chaos Computer Club of Germany has filed a criminal complaint, seeking to have the country's federal prosecutor general investigate the government for violating the law by conducting mass surveillance on its citizens.

  • Economist Dean Baker argues in The Guardian that recently disclosed non-compete agreements between companies like Apple and Google "should forever destroy any connection between the Silicon Valley tech billionaires and their supposed libertarian world-views." He adds, "the real news here is how the Silicon Valley barons allegedly broke the law…actively collud[ing] to stifle market forces."

  • The White House is going to host a Maker Faire.

  • Rebecca Leber of Think Progress reports on some sneaky websites set up by Republicans that aim to trick Democrats into donating to the other side.

  • If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has its way, soon our cars will be sharing data with each other about how we're driving.

  • Political tech vendor ElectionMall, whose CEO Ravi Singh was recently charged with campaign finance fraud, has a troubled history, our Sarah Lai Stirland writes.

  • DonorsChoose has opened up its 2013 data, including 130,000 school projects, more than 300,000 donors, and $60 million in donations, Lucy Bernholz reports.

  • Budweiser's "Puppy Love" and Coca-Cola's "It's Beautiful" Superbowl ads are topping the YouTube trend charts for the United States as of this morning. Does this mean sexism is out and multiracial/species love is in?

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