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First POST: On Being Watched

BY Nick Judd | Friday, June 7 2013

First POST is normally available only to Personal Democracy Plus subscribers. Today, it's available for everyone.

Finding out

  • You've long suspected it, you've heard unconfirmed or thinly-sourced reports asserting it, but only yesterday was it confirmed to be true: the scale and scope of the U.S. "foreign" surveillance apparatus is mind-bogglingly large and, for fans of the right to privacy, uncomfortably so.

    The Washington Post:

    In a statement issue late Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”

    Clapper added that there were numerous inaccuracies in reports about PRISM by The Post and the Guardian newspaper, but he did not specify any.

  • The New York Times piles on:

    The federal government has been secretly collecting information on foreigners overseas for nearly six years from the nation’s largest Internet companies like Google, Facebook and, most recently, Apple, in search of national security threats, the director of national intelligence confirmed Thursday night. The confirmation of the classified program came just hours after government officials acknowledged a separate seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States.

  • And editorializes:

    Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.


Around the web

  • In Australia, civic hacking is spreading:

    Govhack takes openly available information, from agencies like the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the State Library and Landgate and invites developers, programmers, designers and complete amateurs to form teams and find new ways of presenting and using the data.

    GovHack is held around Australia but this year was the first time Perth had an event.

  • MapBox describes the growth of OpenStreetMap, an open-source global digital map.

  • The Open Knowledge Foundation describes an Open Government Partnership meeting in Mombasa, Kenya.

  • It's legal to hail cabs with smartphones in New York City. (h/t Steven Clift.)