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First POST: Overreaching

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, April 24 2015


  • It looks like last year's successful campaign to defend net neutrality just claimed a collateral win: as Jonathan Mahler writes in the New York Times, regulators attitudes toward the proposed, now sunk, Comcast-TimeWarner merger were shaped by fears that the combined company would be too big. "At the end of the day," he writes, "the government’s commitment to maintaining a free and open Internet did not square with the prospect of a single company controlling as much as 40 percent of the public’s access to it. "

  • Harold Feld of Public Knowledge goes deep on why the FCC balked at the Comcast-TimeWarner deal.

  • House Speaker John Boehner tells Bloomberg's Mark Halperin that the House might subpoena Hillary Clinton's personal email server if she doesn't turn it over for independent investigation. Said Boehner:

    "She violated the law, and the idea that she was going to use her own server and do official business on it goes against every transparency issue that the President likes to tout. At some point, they just can't ignore the fact that there are a lot of public documents on this server that the American people have a right to see. And we believe that it’s time for Mrs. Clinton to turn that server and all those documents over to the IG, the Inspector General, at the State Department."

  • Today's must-read: Top Republican social media strategist Vincent Harris gets a big fat plug from Austin-based freelancer Tom Bartlett in Politico Magazine, in the course of a long and somewhat confused feature story on how the GOP is still trying to catch up to Dems in the use of tech and data. Last fall, Harris switched from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the presidential sweepstakes, and his team's success getting candidates to use the latest social media tools is highlighted throughout the story. Also featured in Bartlett's story: veteran Republican strategists Patrick Ruffini, Mindy Finn and Chuck DeFeo, and ex-GOPer Katie Harbath, now at Facebook.

  • One sign that Bartlett doesn't quite get the role of tech in winning campaigns is this sentence: "To beat [Hillary Clinton] — or whomever the Democratic Party picks as its nominee—the GOP is going to need an adventurous candidate who’s willing to wade into uncharted online waters, be it Meerkat or whatever next year’s hot new thing turns out to be…" Yeah, whatever. It's a Meerkat election. (Bartlett also mistakenly reports that Clinton's self-advertised plan to build a tech team of 1,000 would make it "three times larger than Obama's in 2012" when in fact he had close to 500 staff working on tech.)

  • No surprise here: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wants Hillary Clinton to be president, Bloomberg Politics' Emily Greenhouse reports.

  • Jacob Harris of The New York Times, a founding member of its Interactive Newsroom Technologies team, is leaving to go work for 18F. On the way out, he shares a great story about when the "web people" like him were finally allowed into the newsroom, at the beginning of the 2008 presidential election season, because "there was a vast hidden world of data we were missing."

  • Google's chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, says strong encryption without so-called backdoors is necessary to keep the authorities accountable, reports Tom Simonite for Technology Review. “Law enforcement has been overreaching,” Enright said. “We want to drive as much transparency for law enforcement access as possible.”

  • Our Wendy Grossman reports on how UK's all volunteer Democracy Club has finally made it possible for Brits to know who is running for Parliament.

  • NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is announcing today a partnership with three NYC law schools aimed at helping start-ups navigate state laws and regulations, Miranda Neubauer reports for Capital New York. The partners are the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic (BLIP), the Fordham University School of Law’s Center on Law and Information Policy and the Tech Startup Clinic (CLIP), operated out of Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law. He's also announcing that his office is the first state government member of our very own Civic Hall. Schneiderman has tangled in the past with Airbnb, and as Neubauer reports, this new partnership is aimed at improving how the tech industry works with government regulators.