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First POST: Journoterrorism?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, February 19 2014


  • The London police lawfully employed the British Terrorism Act of 2000 when they detained and interrogated journalist David Miranda last summer, a lower court has ruled. It said that while his detention was "an indirect interference with press freedom," it was still justified by "very pressing" issues of national security, Ryan Devereaux reports for The Intercept. The police claim that he was subject to the anti-terror law because he was "likely to be involved in espionage activity."

  • Miranda's partner, Glenn Greenwald, zings the British government for equating the release of the Edward Snowden documents--which he drily notes "the free world calls award-winning journalism" with terrorism.

  • AT&T reports that it provided user information to US authorities more than 300,000 times in 2013, along with at least 35,000 requests under the FISA Act (in just the first half of the year) and as many as 3,000 National Security Letters.

  • Rep. Peter King has called for an "all-out political and legislative war" against the prospect of clemency for Edward Snowden, specifically attacking former Rep. Ron Paul for his petition on Snowden's behalf.

  • Eleanor Saitta, the principal security engineer at the Open Internet Tools Project, has written a provocative essay for Medium, in which she argues that civil society groups demanding limits on government surveillance programs need to realize that they're actually taking on the fundamental structure of the modern nation-state. She writes:

    Intelligence is a fundamental requirement for the modern state. Without it, the state is blind, unable to understand its place in an inherently adversarial structure. The state, which must attempt to preserve its territorial integrity, territorial monopoly on (some) force, and sovereignty of action, requires information about the actions of those adversaries known and unknown who may attempt to infringe on any of these structures.

    Noting that comprehensive mass surveillance used to be expensive, but now has become--thanks to Moore's Law--much cheaper, Saitta argues that it was inevitable that it would expand into every corner of our lives. And thus:

    In asking all states to confine themselves to only surveil as a law enforcement tactic, and to in effect do no international intelligence work (for intelligence can clearly not operate within these bound), the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance ask for nothing less than the end of the Westphalian compromise and the creation of a new fundamental theory of geopolitical power and the monopoly on violence.

  • Cartoonist Susie Cagle draws why Oakland's Domain Awareness Center is "the testing ground for what comes next for all of us."

  • Our Carola Frediani reports on a slate of new efforts to make digital security the norm for social media users.

  • The US Census Bureau is experimenting with using online survey tools to conduct the 2020 census, starting with a test targeting people in the Washington, DC and Montgomery Country, MD, areas, using government or commercial databases to better figure out where to send census door-knockers.

  • Data-mining is behind the massive door-to-door canvass under way to help reach uninsured Americans who are eligible for Obamacare, the New York Times' Michael Shear reports, noting that many of the people and techniques involved are connected to the 2012 Obama presidential campaign.

In other news around the web:

  • If you missed the livestream coverage of the crackdown in Kiev, Gawker has a helpful roundup of visuals and video snippets.

  • Two members of Pussy Riot, the Russian art-protest group, were arrested in Sochi yesterday and managed to live-tweet the encounter, Robert Mackey of the New York Times reports.

  • 155 cities in Europe have entered the Bloomberg Ideas contest, which will bestow 9 million Euros on five winners this fall. A quarter of the applications from Eastern Europe focused on government transparency and democracy, while Western European cities leaned toward energy efficient in their proposals.

  • London's hackers are trying to help fight the record floods underway in England, but not everyone thinks this is a good use of their time.

  • Our Jessica McKenzie reports on evidence that Venezuelan authorities are blocking Internet sites during the current crackdown on a political opposition movement.

  • Former President Bill Clinton doesn't understand why former President George W. Bush isn't on Twitter. He doesn't seem to care about former President Jimmy Carter. (Yes, this warranted a report on CBS News.)

  • The online news nonprofit The Texas Tribune "has turned into a lapdog by taking big dollars from lobbyists and corporations," journalist Jim Moore writes in a multi-part look at the Trib's (too chummy?) coverage of Democrat Wendy Davis and relationships with the state's movers and shakers.

  • Responding to a successful "We the People" petition, the White House's Gene Sperling and Todd Park reaffirmed the Obama administration's commitment to net neutrality.

  • ProPublica has a beautiful, if startling, visualization of "How dark money flows through the Koch Network."

  • In advance of this weekend's Code Across NYC hackathon, Chris Whong explains how you can find your own "inner civic hacker."

  • Citizen University, the annual national conference on the art of powerful citizenship, is coming up soon--March 21 in Seattle. Among the speakers: Lawrence Lessig, Ai-jen Poo, Maya Wiley, Mark Meckler, Christina Jiminez and Eric Liu.

  • Now you see it: Yes, that is NGP-VAN's John Brougher appearing as an extra in the second season of House of Cards.

  • Lagniappe: Other than the fact that he is getting pleasure from writing a blog, there's nothing in Roger Angell's magisterial New Yorker essay about "life in the nineties" that is about tech or politics, but make time to read it. It should put everything else in perspective. (And did you know his stepfather was E.B. White? That maybe explains why Angell's writing is so good.)