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First POST: Master of their Domain(s)

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 4 2015

Masters of Their Domain(s)

  • Hillary Clinton's private email account traces back to a URL registered to her family home address in Chappaqua, NY, report Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis for the AP. The exact location of the mail server running the account remains unknown, but Gillum and Bridis oddly speculate that the Clintons might have be running their own "homebrew" system from their home: "Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton's home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking."

  • The Clinton account, clintonemail.com, is registered to a "mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham," Gillum and Bridis report, which "does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches." It is also connected to presidentclinton.com and wjcoffice.com accounts.

  • Note to readers: The Internet loves nothing more than a scavenger hunt. Expect this "mystery" to be unraveled quickly.

  • Clinton "thwarted records requests" by relying exclusively on her private email while Secretary of State, Michael Schmidt and Amy Chozick report for The New York Times.

  • For example, J.K. Trotter of Gawker says the State Department falsely denied his FOIA requests for email correspondence between Clinton and her former close White House aide Sidney Blumenthal, claiming none existed when now emails hacked from Blumenthal's account show the two had plenty of correspondence, including on the Libya Benghazi mess.

  • At Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden offers more details on how Blumenthal's email was hacked by a Romanian going by the handle "Guccifier."

  • In case you forgot, Clinton's desire to bring Blumenthal, a fiercely loyal aide to her and her husband, onto her team at State was blocked by then-Obama chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel because of the belief among top Obama staff that Blumenthal was responsible for spreading hit pieces against Obama during the 2008 campaign.

  • Clinton didn't use her personal email account to send classified information while she was Secretary of State, Andrea Peterson reports for the Washington Post, citing sources at the State Department.

  • Former Presidential Innovation Fellow Clay Johnson argues that the real lesson of the Clinton email brouhaha is that the government needs to fix the ancient and insecure IT that someone like Clinton understandably resisted using. And, he writes, lots of government employees choose to use third-party tools like Gmail, even if they aren't supposed to, because they work faster and help "get the job done."

  • On the other hand, John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation raises "Five questions about Hillary Clinton's secret email," including: why did she avoid accountability, what was the security risk, and what did the White House know. Official records management, he says, need stronger enforcement authority to improve actual government accountability.

  • Related: Sunlight's Emily Shaw takes a close look at the patchwork of differing practices around official email records at the state and local government level in the US. In many jurisdictions, records are routinely destroyed even though the retention costs are low.

  • In Kate Losse's book about the early days of Facebook, she describes how employees could view any users' personal account at will. Now, Lisa Vaas at NakedSecurity jumps on a recent account of a Facebook user who watched as an engineer access his profile without even asking for a password, noting that it brings up concerns, yet again, about whether access to a "God's View" of users at a major tech company is potentially being abused. (h/t Zeynep Tufekci)

  • New York Times magazine writer Jenna Wortham says this to Om Malik, in the course of a wonderful dialogue on digital culture:

    There’s a slow collective awakening happening right now. With the Sony email leaks, the message is that you should never email something you don’t want other people to potentially read. Other countries have been faster to realize that the notion of privacy is not as ironclad as we like to believe or tend to think. Nothing is actually private. Nothing is actually secure. We are way more vulnerable than we think.

  • Annotation start-up Hypothes.is (whose founder Dan Whaley gave a well received talk called "The Revolution Will Be Annotated" at PDF 2013 on his effort to add a knowledge layer to the web) just got a $2.1 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, reports Tate Williams for InsidePhilanthropy.com.

  • NextDoor.com, the social network for neighbors, has raised another $110 million in investment, reports Mike Isaac for The New York Times. The company is playing "the long game," its CEO Nirav Tolia told Isaac, not moving to monetize the data users share about local service recommendations until it has figured out how to do so without violating their trust. Five million messages are posted a day on NextDoor's 53,000 microsites, and about 20% of those are about local service providers.

  • Here's Denise Cheng reporting last month for techPresident about NextDoor's model of online social engagement.