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First POST: Too Big to Read Our Mail

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 21 2014

Too Big to Read Our Mail

  • Security expert Bruce Schneier writes an oped for CNN arguing that the NSA should be broken up. Diverging from some anti-surveillance activists, he praises the agency's "Tailored Access Operations" group for its ability to secretly break into "the enemy's computers," but blasts NSA's dragnet collection of domestic and foreign civilians communications data and its "deliberate sabotaging" of once-thought-to-be-secure commercial encryption systems and the like, which "destroys our trust in the Internet…and makes us more vulnerable."

  • The most interesting part of of Schneier's piece is his suggestion that instead of focusing on breaking online security (the "signals intelligence" gathering role) it instead emphasize communications security. He writes:

    Computer and network security is hard, and we need the NSA's expertise to secure our social networks, business systems, computers, phones and critical infrastructure. Just recall the recent incidents of hacked accounts -- from Target to Kickstarter. What once seemed occasional now seems routine. Any NSA work to secure our networks and infrastructure can be done openly -- no secrecy required.

  • "Millions of Americans are now virtually incarcerated in algorithmic prisons," writes Bill Davidow in the Atlantic. How so? Through data-driven profiling that corporations and government use to predict everything from our credit worthiness to our behavior.

  • Eric Lipton details Comcast's "web of lobbying and philanthropy" for the New York Times.

  • Not included in Lipton's list of the ways Comcast has cultivated Washington powerbrokers and grassroots organizations alike: the time the company promised to expand its partnership with the nonprofit Common Sense Media as part of a list of "public interest commitments" that it made as part of its FCC filing seeking approval of its purchase of NBC Universal. As noted by Susan Crawford in her book Captive Audience, Common Sense Media was "a pet charity of [then-] FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski…whose board he had helped form years earlier."

  • Twitter says the Venezuelan government is blocking the posting of images from the opposition protests surging across the country.

  • Matthew Ingram reports that "for those inside and outside of Ukraine and Venezuela, social media is the only media that matters."

  • The Times' Jen Preston reports that a 22-year-old Venezuelan beauty queen, Genesis Carmona, who is one of five protesters killed in anti-government demonstrations there, is rapidly becoming an icon, thanks to social media.

  • The Open State Foundation has launched Diplotwoops, which tracks deleted tweets by diplomats and embassies. Here's their gleanings of what various diplomats have retracted related to the Ukraine crisis.

  • Ur-tech blogger Om Malik has announced that he's retiring from the news business to join the early stage VC firm True Ventures, though he will continue to occasionally contribute to Gigaom, the site he started. "Living a 24-hour news life has come at a personal cost," he notes, and "it is time for me to opt out." We'll miss your sage voice, Om!

  • "Citing the scandals embroiling Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Republican Governors Association today ordered its members to discontinue the use of e-mail, 'effective immediately',” Andy Borowitz "reports" for The New Yorker.

News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

First POST: Company

The global "Snowden effect" is huge; how many consumer-facing online services fail the user privacy test; the Dems' 2016 digital to-do list; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Mood Slime

The Sony email leak reveals the MPAA's campaign against Google; how Uber is lobbying in local markets; mapping the #MillionsMarchNYC; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Cloudy

What the Internet is not; new analysis of public opinion on net neutrality; how cloud backup apparently foiled a police coverup; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Records

Is the future of citizen journalism vigilantism?; one tech mogul's vocal support for CIA torture; a cri de couer from the founder of the Pirate Bay; and much, much more. GO

Web Index Sees Impact of Net Neutrality, Surveillance and Copyright Laws

Denmark, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom and Sweden have come out on top of the Web Index, a ranking of the Web Foundation measuring the economic, social and political benefit that countries gain from the web. The United States is at number six. For the authors of the report accompanying the index, the results reflect how inequality has an impact on access to the web. "Nordic policy-makers have been quick to adopt and promote the free Internet - and open access to information - as a 21st century public good," the report states. " Others, as this year's findings show, need to move fast to catch up." The report attributes the Scandinavian countries' advantage to the countries' broader efforts to invest in public goods and establish a welfare and acting against " excess concentrations of wealth and power." With the lower inequality in those countries than in others, "the skills, means and freedoms to benefit from new technologies are widespread, which helps to explain why Scandinavian countries score highly on the political, social and economic impact of the Web GO

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