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First POST: Uber Falles

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 18 2014

Uber Falles

  • A top executive at Uber recently suggested at a dinner of top NY media types that the company spend "a million dollars" to hire opposition researchers to dig up personal details on its journalistic critics, specifically mentioning Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily, reports Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed. Lacy is justifiably outraged, particularly at Michael's threat to dig up dirt on her family. The executive in question, Emil Michael, Uber's senior vice president of business, later issued a statement denying that his remarks reflected his "actual views." The company denies conducting opposition research on journalists.

  • This story, by Sarah Lacy on October 22nd, decrying Uber's "asshole culture" of entrenched sexism and misogyny (most recently exemplified by an Uber marketing campaign in France promising riders "hot chick" drivers), was apparently the trigger for Michael's dinner rant.

  • Michael Hayden, former NSA director, and Michael Mukasey, former US Attorney General, take to the Wall Street Journal's oped page to condemn the USA Freedom Act, which the Senate will soon vote on, as "reform that only ISIS could love."

  • Over at TechDirt, Mike Masnick warns of rumors that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is looking to attach an old SOPA provision that would make it a felony to stream copyrighted works to the USA Freedom Act, as a favor to his pals at Ultimate Fighting Championship, a Nevada-based company.

  • Jon Ward of Yahoo News picks up on the already-reported fact (by Colin Delany) that Facebook will soon be ending the ability of third-party developers to access a user's friends list--meaning, no more "targeted sharing."

  • The last time the FCC classified a communications service under Title II--automatic voice roaming--the wireless industry didn't collapse, Public Knowledge's Harold Feld points out, in a learned and detailed post addressing some of the current industry fears of the pending FCC open internet ruling. Or, as he puts it, "the hysterical ravings of the anti-net neutrality crowd that classifying something as Title II would require the FCC to impose price controls, tariffs, and the occasional human sacrifice to avert structural separation is falsified by demonstrating that the FCC has, in the past, classified services as Title II and did not impose any of these things."

  • In The Nation, Adrian Chen reviews Gabriella Coleman's new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, writing, "in arguing that Anonymous is an exciting new model of political action, Coleman exaggerates Anonymous’s achievements, downplays crucial failures, and is blind to the ways this supposedly novel way of organizing protest rests on bad old myths."

  • Gigabit speed free encrypted Wi-fi at up to 150-feet range is coming to New York City's 10,000 pay phone booths, along with free calling inside the US, mobile phone charging and a tablet interface to access local information, reports Miranda Neubauer for Capital NY. The program, dubbed LinkNYC, is part of the city's efforts to close the digital divide, she reports.

  • Longtime civic hacker Anthony Townsend celebrates this news, noting that he's been dreaming and scheming for "4,948 days" to "insert the free Wi-fi virus into City Hall" and finally the moment has come.

  • Some residents of Los Angeles are trying to flood the social traffic Waze with false reports of local road congestion in order to push commuters trying to avoid highway traffic back onto the main roads, reports Michael Carney for PandoDaily.

  • With Amazon donating 1000 unsold Fire phones to West Africa and Paul Allen's Vulcan foundation planning to send in 10,000 more, Chris Fabian of UNICEF News offers a whole bunch of good reasons why this is a terrible idea and won't help the fight against Ebola.

  • Google Glass is dying a slow, quiet death, writes Kevin Montgomery on Valleywag.

  • Big congrats to Nicco Mele, the co-founder of Echo & Co., onetime webmaster for Howard Dean, Harvard Kennedy School professor, author of The End of Big and longtime friend of PDM: he's been appointed deputy publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where he will focus on digital platforms and products.