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First POST: Tools

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, February 28 2014

Tools

  • The new installment of the Knight News Challenge is focused on strengthening the free and open Internet. $2.75 million will go to those with a good enough idea--the deadline for the first round of applications is March 18.

  • David Meyer reports for Gigaom on the rise of consumer-friendly privacy tools like Mailpile.

  • Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation explains why they're backing open source encryption tools. (Maybe Knight can send them a check?)

  • WTF? The Houston City Attorney has issued a cease and desist order against Uber, demanding that it stop "transmitting or aiding in the transmission of form e-mails to City officials." He adds, "the excessive number of e-mails has gone unabated, to the point that it has become harassing in nature and arguably unlawful." Needless to say, Uber isn't backing down. An editorial in the Houston Chronicle adds context and support.

  • Valleywag's Nitasha Tiku reports on how an enterprising freelance engineer took advantage of Google Maps' loose verification system to post fake numbers for the FBI and Secret Service, and then recorded real service calls to those agencies. He says he acted after repeated efforts to get Google to fix those flaws were ignored.

  • A group protesting the Citizens United ruling managed to secretly videotape their protest from inside the Supreme Court, where cameras are strictly not allowed, Adam Liptak of the New York Times reports.

  • A homeless person helping explain the value of a startup called HandUp moves an audience of techies to tears at the Launch conference.

  • In the movie "Her," the main character played by Joaquin Phoenix, works at a fictional company that writes personalized letters on behalf of busy people, sometimes even writing both sides of an ongoing relationship. In Wired, Evan Selinger profiles BroApp, a "clever relationship wingman" tool that sends "automated daily text messages" and promises "seamless relationship outsourcing." Selinger notes the app might be a parody, but it's awfully close to where things are going, he argues.

  • Fresh: Our Miranda Neubauer reportson the challenge of getting New York City's community boards to modernize their use of tech, and the ongoing work of local Code for America brigade BetaNYC.

  • Alec Ross reflects on Ukraine's future for CNN.com, noting that it is the top outsourcing destination in the region for information-technology services, but mourning that corruption and authoritarianism are stymying the country's nascent civic tech sector.

  • Leading Russian democracy activist and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny has been placed under house arrest for two months and forbidden from using the Internet or talking to the media.

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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