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First POST: Leaking

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, August 8 2014


  • Security analyst Bruce Schneier blogs that there are actually <.>three significant national security leakers feeding stories to the press: Edward Snowden; the source for a series of major stories published in Germany; and now the new leaker feeding the Intercept's recent stories on the terrorist watch list.

  • It's not just the NSA: The Intercept's Cora Currier and Morgan Marquis-Boire explain how recently leaked files show how German surveillance company FinFisher helped Bahrain put down Arab Spring protesters.

  • Yahoo is planning to support end-to-end PGP encryption in Yahoo Mail, another sign that major Internet service providers are starting to compete for users by providing strong privacy protections.

  • The Sunday New York Times magazine has a long feature by Robert Draper that captures well the many strains and contradictions of contemporary libertarian politics. It's especially interesting to see how millennials who once favored Democrats for their socially liberal views may now be turning. As one 30-year-old Hill staffer told him, "Obama seemed to be hip and in touch with my generation, and then he goes and reads our emails." And Reason editor Matt Welch adds for good measure, "Hillary isn't going to be any good on these issues. She has an authoritative mind-set and has no interest in Edward Snowden, who's a hero to a lot of these people."

  • On Yahoo News, Matt Bai writes that small-donor political fundraising powered by the Internet and metric-driven online news is accentuating the power of small but motivated audiences to drive both major parties and the media toward their extremes. He comments:

    Like a lot of my fellow futurists, I once believed that the democratizing of information and political power — the ability of individuals to weigh in collectively — would make for a more inclusive and more enlightened political debate. Now I’m not so sure it works that way, unless we can train ourselves to be less easily manipulated by party committees and self-interested partisans, and unless our leaders can resolve to actually lead, rather than follow the loudest noise.

  • On his DemocracySpot blog, Tiago Peixoto of the World Bank throws down some hard-earned wisdom about technology and democracy, noting that lowering the transaction costs for participation doesn't necessarily lead to more (could it be because tech tools don't address deeper design problems with today's democratic systems?) and suggesting that advocates also focus on the instrumental benefits of increased participation.

  • Amazon's battle with publisher Hachette has taken a surprising turn as more than 900 writers have banded together to fight back by reaching out directly to their readers to ask for their solidarity, as David Streitfield reports for the New York Times. The strangest part of this story is how tone-deaf Amazon is, implying that the writers were put "in the line of fire" and are being manipulated by their publisher.

  • Black Twitter definitely did not like how the AP reported the news of Theodore Wafer's conviction for second-degree murder of Renisha McBride, the Detroit woman who came to his door in suburban Detroit seeking help.

  • It's got a stupid title, but this long Wired profile by Mat Honan of tech entrepreneur Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr and now of Glitch, which makes the collaboration tool Slack, is well worth the read. For once, a grown-up with his roots in the open Internet seems to be winning the chase to Silicon Valley's brass ring.

  • Eleanor Randolph, a member of the New York Times' editorial board, profiles Zephyr Teachout's spunky bid to challenge New York governor Andrew Cuomo, asking "if she is such a trifle, then why has he hired one of the best elections experts in the state to pore over her records and find ways to get her off the ballot?" The Times' ed board clearly isn't happy with Cuomo; it will be interesting to see who--if anyone--it endorses for Governor.