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First POST: Finessing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 12 2015


  • At a time when government classifies practically everything, The New York Times' Scott Shane talks to secrecy experts who say that it's hard to believe Hillary Clinton's assertion that in her four years as Secretary of State, she "did not email any classified material to anyone."

  • On Vox, Ezra Klein writes that Clinton's avoidance of her official State Department email account shouldn't be seen as unusual in the context of the "transparency theater" that many federal officials conduct (hiding sensitive business from official reporting), but her claim that her email server's security was never breached betrays a dangerous naivete about digital eavesdropping.

  • Press critic Jack Shafer, parses Clinton's reference to her deleting 30,000 personal emails as "not saving" them, and notes that it won't end the mess. He writes, "Already, the press has changed its focus the deleted—I mean, not saved—emails to the security of her private email server. This question, which the press can probably keep aloft for weeks, can’t be finessed away in a future Hillary Clinton press conference because it is largely speculative."

  • Indeed, as Shafer helpfully points out, over on Wired, Robert McMillan explains why Clinton "can't know" that her email was actually secure, and Fortune's Robert Hackett cites security firm Venafi, which has found that access to Clinton's server was "not encrypted or authenticated with a digital certificate" for the first three months of her term at State.

  • The Associated Press is suing the State Department for the release of some of Clinton's emails and other correspondence, following years of FOIA requests.

  • Some members of Congress say they have never or rarely sent an email, reports Mario Trujillo for The Hill. In the former group: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). In the latter, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

  • Lost in the brouhaha over Clinton's private email practices, writes Tom Watson over at Forbes, was the launch of No Ceilings, the Clinton Foundation and Gates Foundation's big-data driven joint project to track the progress of women and girls worldwide. As he notes, "No Ceilings is an explicit argument for big picture, top-down political, civil society, and social sector leadership – married to civil rights and citizens’ movements that take on different local, regional and cultural flavors….Moreover, No Ceilings seeks to establish the civil, social and economic rights for girls and women as the top of the global development agenda."

  • Congrats to the newly announced 2015-16 class of Data & Society fellows, including PDM friend (and Civic Hall member) Noel Hidalgo, the executive director of BetaNYC.

  • Your moment of Zen: It's pretty unusual for Apple to let one of its engineers explain its design process, so this video is a must-watch.