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First POST: Modern Times

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 17 2015

Modern Times

  • Finally, one American state--Oregon--has decided to modernize its political system by automatically registering people to vote, rather than putting the burden on them, Sheila Kumar reports for the Associated Press. Any adult citizen who has interacted with the state's Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division since 2013 but isn't registered will have a ballot mailed to them before the next election.

  • It's Sunshine Week, and in the Washington Post, Monkey Cage blogger Jason Ross Arnold reviews the Obama administration's promise to be the "most transparent administration in history." His conclusion: it's made some progress but "arguably falls short of what Obama promised." Spoken like a true academic.

  • Nearly 9 in 10 Americans have heard something about government surveillance programs in the wake of Edward Snowden's disclosures, report Lee Raine and Mary Madden of the Pew Research Center, drawing from a new public survey. Of those 1/3 have taken at least one step to hide their information from the government. More than half think it is "somewhat" or "very" difficult to find safer communications options, and, not surprisingly, many are unaware that tools like PGP, Tor or the DoNotTrackMe browser plug-in exist. A majority of 57% say it is unacceptable for the government to monitor the communications of American citizens.

  • Dan Metcalfe, the longtime director of the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, which oversees FOIA implementation, says in Politico that Hillary Clinton's choice to manage all her official email thru a home-based personal account is "not what either the law or anything close to candor requires." (He also says he will vote for her if she runs for President.)

  • Marc Perkel, an expert in spam filtering, says Hillary Clinton's server used a spam filtering service whose employees "had full access to all her classified state department email in unencrypted form." Given that Clinton has said she didn't send anything classified by email this may not mean much.

  • Organizing for Action, the grassroots arm of President Obama's once-mighty campaign organization, is struggling to find a role for itself heading into 2016, reports Maggie Haberman for The New York Times' First Draft blog. Not covered in her story: who controls the digital assets of the 2012 campaign, including the massive Obama email list and perhaps equally valuable, the social graph of all its supporters on Facebook.

  • Trolling the political press, Vox founder Ezra Klein writes that Al Gore should run for President in 2016.

  • CORRECTED LINK: Quorum analytics, a data-driven startup created by two Harvard undergrads that aims to help well-heeled lobbyists and other people with lots of money better target Members of Congress, gets profiled by Catherine Ho in the Washington Post.

  • I'mGonnaLetYouFinishBut Dept: During a panel discussion at SXSW, the head of Google's unconscious bias program, Judith Williams, called out Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Aspen Institute poobah Walter Isaacson for their recurring interruptions of their third copanelist, US CTO Megan Smith, asking both men if their interruptions were a sign of the unconscious bias both men had been talking about, reports Karissa Bell for Mashable.

  • In Fast Company, Max Chafkin explains how Y Combinator decided to give a shot to the radical democracy activists Pia Mancini and Santiago Siri of Argentina and their DemocracyOS deliberation platform. (Here's our Jessica McKenzie from a month ago, previewing DemocracyOS's coming public launch of its platform.)

  • Urban Geekz' Kunbi Tinuoye previews this Thursday's Civic Hall event on the role of black and Latina women in tech, highlighting keynote speaker Kathryn Finney, the founder of the Digital Undivided incubator.

  • Kudos! VoteRunLead (whose founder and ED Erin Vilardi is a member of Civic Hall) has just launched a 34-week web series of online trainings for women interested in learning more about how to run for office.