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First POST: Post-Ambition and Fear Not

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Post-Ambition and Fear Not

  • The Obama Administration has developed an offensive cyberwar plan to disrupt the Syrian military, but not deployed it because of an ongoing debate inside the government over the possible consequences of its use, David Sanger reports for The New York Times.

  • Culminating a series of reports done with NBC News, Glenn Greenwald explains in greater detail the work of Britain's GCHQ Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group to "monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information." The slide deck accompanying the story is pretty chilling.

  • Words spoken by Will Smith and Sylvester Stallone in "After Earth" and "Rocky Balboa" get repurposed into an inspiring video tribute to Ukraine's protest movement by a blogger, Alexander Makedonskiy. His video has been watched more than 200,000 times on YouTube, Robert Mackey reports, after it got a big push from Pavel Durov, founder of VKontakte, the big Russian social network.

  • On Global Voices Online, Kevin Rothrock--the original source for Mackey's post-- explains how Durov's action may reverberate inside Russia.

  • Zeke Miller reports for Time about "Project Ivy," which will enable Democratic candidates to make use of several of the 2012 Obama campaigns main technology innovations. He writes:

    The new options, recognizable to any visitor to the Obama website in 2012, include the “call tool,” which allows volunteers to make targeted phone calls from the web, and its targeted sharing efforts, which allowed the campaign to request volunteers release specific information to carefully selected Facebook friends. It includes “Project Airwolf,” the Obama program named after the 1970s television show, which makes it easier for campaigns to match volunteers with where they will be most effective.

  • Veteran political strategist and organizer Gina Glantz's GenderAvenger project has a spanking new website, focused on calling out and ending the "many instances of women being absent from or underrepresented in the public arena." My favorite part of this project is where Glantz explains: "We will build a group of GenderAvenger Pros who will be ready to step in if you fear subtle or not-so-subtle retribution from speaking up in public or even quietly making the point. GenderAvengerPros are those of us who are post-ambition and fear not and have very large rolodexes (contact lists)."

  • Tim Wu explains why Comcast's deal with Netflix is actually bad for net neutrality.

  • Mathew Ingram reports on VC Marc Andreessen's argument on Twitter that broadband service providers should be allowed to charge more for high-volume content provision.

  • "Whenever we talk about the challenge of ending global poverty, we need to talk about the challenge of global connectivity," Alec Ross writes in The Huffington Post.

  • Mat Honan of Wired explores how Facebook is redesigning its service for users in developing countries where the mobile phones are out of date and the network infrastructure is expensive to use.

  • The European Parliament industry committee has delayed its vote new net neutrality rules, David Meyer reports for Gigaom, and internet advocates say this may be a good thing.

  • Ellen Miller, executive director of The Sunlight Foundation, has announced she is planning to retire this year, producing quite a flurry of tributes on Twitter.

  • The anonymous wag behind the Goldman Sachs elevator Twitter handle has been unmasked, just weeks after he sold a book about Wall Street for a six-figure advance.

  • Billionaire tech investor Sean Parker compares Gawker publisher Nick Denton to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and Denton counsels Parker, "Next time you want to insult a Jew, however, Sean, you might want to come up with some other metaphor."

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.