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First POST: Too Much Information

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 25 2015

Too Much Information

  • Brave new media ecology: If you read just one article on the implications of the reported deal between Facebook and The New York Times (as well as a few other marquee publishers) to move the latter's content onto the former's platform, read this warning from veteran tech observer and entrepreneur John Battelle.

  • OK, you can also read this one by Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic, imagining Facebook as the "Walmart of News."

  • On NiemanLab, Joshua Benton does a good job of explaining what this means for everyone else--particular media makers mulling their own jump to distributed content models. There's always podcast and email newsletters (like this one!)--two channels that no one controls access to.

  • Closer to confirmed: Philip Rucker reports for the Washington Post that the members of Hillary Clinton's digital team for her expected 2016 presidential bid will include Teddy Goff (Obama 2012 digital director), Katie Dowd (longtime Clinton aide and director of digital strategy for the Clinton Foundation), Jenna Lowenstein (VP of digital for Emily's List) and Andrew Bleeker (digital marketing veteran of both Obama campaigns).

  • Jason Goldman, a veteran of Blogger, Google, Twitter, Obvious, Branch and Medium, writes about his goals as incoming White House chief digital officer. He's looking for ideas on "How can we--our government and you and your communities--better connect online to make America better" and asks that people use the hashtag #socialcivics to tag their responses.

  • Susan Crawford recalls her own time in government, as a special assistant to the President, to suggest that the real reason Hillary Clinton kept all her official emails on her own private server was to better be able "to remember what she had done" She writes, "Far from wanting to avoid public scrutiny, Secy. Clinton may have wanted to celebrate her tenure as our country’s skillful representative in foreign lands."

  • Department of TMI: College student affairs professionals at an annual conference in New Orleans saw their gathering roiled by anonymous postings on YikYak, the same app tearing its way through the close-knit communities they came from, reports Andy Thomason for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • This raises a question: Are people still using YikYak on Capitol Hill? (Asking for a friend.)

  • With key surveillance provisions of the US Patriot Act due to expire before June, a coalition of tech companies and privacy groups are releasing a letter calling on the White House and Congress to reform the law and end firmly the bulk collection of Americans' metadata, Ellen Nakashima reports for the Washington Post. The issue is ripe because, as the White House confirmed Tuesday, if Section 215 of the law isn't explicitly renewed, the NSA's bulk telephony program will end.

  • A new bill co-sponsored by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI), called the Surveillance State Repeal Act, would not only end that program. It would also block the government from forcing tech companies to build "back doors" into their devices and strengthen whistleblower protections, Patrick Eddington reports for The Hill. The bill is supported from right to left by Freedom Works, the Campaign for Liberty, CREDO Action, Demand Progress and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, he notes.

  • Using a public records request, ArsTechnica reporter Cyrus Farivar has obtained the entire license plate reader dataset of the Oakland police department--more than 4.6 million reads of more than 1.1 million plates spread over almost four years. The results are a literal map of privacy-smashing metadata. As one law professor, Catherine Crump, tells Farivar, ""Do you think that anyone with a badge should be able to search through that data at their discretion? If not, then you should support restrictions on how long law enforcement agents can store this data, and who can access it, and under what circumstances.”

  • Fake news: If you are one of those New Yorkers who cheered on the creation of the Women's Equality Party last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo--even though many people saw it as a transparent bid to undermine the Working Families Party--you should read this expose by Laura Nahmias in Capital New York. Five months after the election, where the new party earned a ballot line by getting more than 50,000 votes, it still has no formal leadership or bylaws, she reports.

  • Speaking of fake moves, Cameroon's president Paul Biya is being criticized for trying to pass off a Photoshopped image of himself supposedly honoring a group of fallen soldiers, Dibussi Tande reports for Global Voices; Biya was in Europe at the time of the ceremony. (h/t Ethan Zuckerman)

  • Digital rights groups meeting in Manila alongside the RightsCon Southeast Asia conference have issued an international call for principles on intermediary liability, urging the nations of the world to better protect freedom of expression online, as Jeremy Malcolm reports for EFF.

  • This is civic tech: The Center for Technology & Civic Life, which works to modernize local government, is moving three of its top members to Chicago, joining forces with Smart Chicago and setting up shop in the 1871 incubator, Will Flanagan reports for ChicagoInno.

  • This weekend in interesting hackathons: Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the MIT Center for Civic Media are co-hosting "Hacking iCorruption," which isn't about badly designed iPhones, but rather aiming to address "the systemic, legal corruption that is weakening our public institutions around the world."