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First POST: Rules

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, February 10 2015


  • The Ford, Knight, MacArthur, Mozilla and Open Society Foundations have issued the "NetGain Challenge," inviting suggestions on the biggest challenges "at the intersection of the Internet and philanthropy." There's already a great list of suggestions from people like Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, Helen Brunner of Media Democracy Fund, danah boyd of the Data & Society Institute, Craig Aaron of Free Press, Malkia Cyril of the Center for Media Justice, technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci, Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Rebecca MacKinnon of New America, MIT scholar of digital democracy Charlie Detar, Allyson Kapin of RadCampaigns, and Dave Troy of 410Labs.

  • In the developing world, many Facebook users have no idea they are using the Internet, Leo Mirani reports for Quartz, citing survey data. He asks: "…what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules? This is more than a matter of semantics. The expectations and behaviors of the next billion people to come online will have profound effects on how the internet evolves."

  • Mirani also points out that while Facebook is behind, an effort to bring Internet access to "the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it," its showpiece app "provides free access only to Facebook, Facebook messenger and a handful of other services….clicking through on a Google search result requires a data plan."

  • Twitter's third annual transparency report (which has since been copied by more than 30 other companies) shows a big increase in requests for user information from the US, Russia and Turkey--more than 150% in the latter. Notably, Jeremy Kessel, Twitter's senior manager for global legal policy, includes a Turkish language version of the report.

  • The Office of Management and Budget has told the Sunlight Foundation it will soon release the most compressive index of government data ever made available to the public--finally allowing open government advocates to see what data sets the federal government actually holds. The decision came 14 months after Sunlight filed a FOIA request for the data inventory and on the verge of a lawsuit to force the index's release.

  • Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) is asking automakers for details on how the technology in their vehicles is secured and what they are doing with the personal data they collect from users, Andrea Peterson reports for the Washington Post.

  • HBO's John Oliver plugged this government website Sunday night but so far, unlike his call to the Internet's troll army to overwhelm the FCC with comments, seems to be holding up fine. Use it to find out if your doctor takes money from the pharmaceutical industry

  • Lily Hay Newman at Slate has a light-hearted breakdown of the tangled web of government tech.

  • The anti-tech backlash in San Francisco appears to have subsided, reports Kristen Brown for the San Francisco Chronicle, done in by its own hyperbole, personal targeting of techies, and the appearance of more charitable efforts by some companies and billionaires.

  • On Medium, Nicole Sanchez takes apart the idea that diversity in tech is just about getting more (white) women for panels and offers a checklist for change.

  • This is civic tech: (SMS-Lifesavers) is a Swedish project that sends text messages to trained civilians (using mobile location tech) to get CPR to more people before an ambulance arrives.