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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."

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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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.

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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.

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