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First POST: Targeted

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 27 2015


  • Digital humanitarians are responding "in full force" to this weekend's huge earthquake in Nepal, Patrick Meier reports.

  • So far, despite the efforts of new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to charm Silicon Valley, tech company security experts seem to be resisting the US government's desire for weakened encryption systems, David Sanger and Nicole Perloth report for the New York Times.

  • A newly declassified government report suggests that the NSA's warrantless wiretapping and bulk data program was largely ineffective at thwarting terrorism, Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.

  • See if you can parse these two quotes, that literally follow each other, from Steven Levy's fascinating interview with Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, who is building a personalized geo-location layer for the Internet:
    Crowley: "We can figure out, for instance that this person who plays Clash of Clans, plays at the bus station and the coffee shop and has also been to these other spots. So those folks can get ads that are slightly more targeted to them."
    Levy: "Some people think it’s creepy that an app passively logs everywhere they go."
    Crowley; "People ask me about the privacy things all the time. I don’t want people to think that we’re being creepy — I want to expose this, so I can say if you carry this thing in your pocket, you get smarter. We understand where you’ve been, but we don’t share it with anyone."

  • Speaking of creepy surveillance, the New York City police department has a "youth crew list" of 28,000 purported gang members whose social media accounts are monitored, including children as young as age ten, Rose Hackman reports for The Guardian. (h/t Cathy O'Neill)

  • By posting a full, searchable archive of the Sony Pictures email trove, WikiLeaks has done real harm to the privacy of ordinary people, Century Foundation fellow Michael Cohen writes in the Boston Globe.

  • CitizenFour director Laura Poitras just finished filming an art project collaboration between Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and security expert Jacob Appelbaum, reports Lana Lam for the South China Morning Post.

  • On Medium, Maura Pally, the Clinton Foundation's acting CEO, expresses the foundation's commitment to "honesty, transparency and accountability."

  • This data visualization of the seemingly accelerating pace of social change in America, by Alex Tribou and Keith Collins, is pretty nifty. That is, until you ponder why the abortion rights issue is so stalled compared to the fast-moving embrace of gay marriage. (See Katha Pollitt's new column on why that might be.)

  • Since most paid political advertising isn't allowed in the UK, and traditional print materials aren't allowed to include false statements about the character or conducts of other candidates, the parties are investing heavily in YouTube, Facebook and Twitter campaigns, reports Jill Lawless for the AP, and often going negative in ways reminiscent of American political attack ads.

  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is introducing legislation to allow all eligible voters to register online, Colby Hamilton reports for Capital NY.

  • GovTech's Jason Shueh highlights some of the stand-out civic start-ups features at last week's Smartcity Startups Summit in Miami, including Ohmconnect, Nextrequests, and MeWe.

  • In USA Today, Farah Halime reports on "the kind of hacker your city wants," ie, the civic kind.