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First POST: Circumlocution and Circumvention

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 21 2014

Why everybody is talking about the NSA this morning; how Twitter and its users are responding to a crackdown in Turkey; how the Right is getting better at data-driven campaigns; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Intellectuals

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 12 2013

Why you should get off Facebook; where the women tech intellectuals are at; the PCCC gets poked and prodded; NYC's police crime data policy gets stopped and frisked; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Politifact branching out with Punditfact; why you shouldn't "drunk dial" random Members of Congress; why "greasing" IT contracts led to the HealthCare.gov mess; and much, much more. Read More

De Blasio Discusses Airbnb, Occupy, Pope Francis & Pizza in Reddit AMA

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, October 8 2013

de Blasio/Twitter

In his first Reddit AMA, leading New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio responded to policy questions on Airbnb, the Occupy movement, the tech community and to personal questions about his religious views, favorite books and his son's famous hair. Read More

First POST: Step Right Up

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 18 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: A first look at AskThem, a new portal for citizen questions of public officials and figures; an embarrassing data dump for the Indiana GOP; the NSA's spying empire in one handy map; and much, much more. Read More

Hurricane Sandy Moves Occupy Wall Street from Protest to People-Powered Relief

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 30 2012

Hurricane Sandy's winds toppled trees and caused widespread damage throughout New York. Photo: p_romano / Flickr

A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City. Using Recovers.org, a web-based platform for organizing disaster response, Occupy volunteers are processing incoming offers of help and requests for aid, said Justin Wedes, a longtime occupier who 350.org put me in touch with when I contacted them about this project. Read More

What Romney's New "No Cameras" Event Policy and Street Protests Have in Common

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 10 2012

Occupy protesters in Chicago in May, a photographer looking on. Photo: Vondereauvisuals

From political fundraisers in the mansions of the wealthy to street protests in lower Manhattan, people in power are pushing back against the spread of digital cameras.

You don't have to spend long on YouTube or Instagram to see that every day, people ratify a social contract that extends the right to record off the streets and into any large gathering. But this makes trouble in politics, and so the campaigns are asking their high-dollar donors to agree to different terms. The same friction between authorities used to having exclusive control of the official record and citizens with a right to document what really happens is taking place in the streets of New York and elsewhere, in confrontations between citizens and police.

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How Free Software Activists are Hacking Occupy's Source Code

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 17 2012

Can the tools used to organize a protest change protest culture? Photo: PaulSteinJC / Flickr

During big event days, like the protests that were to come on Monday, Occupy Wall Street's techies turn out just like other occupiers. On other days, though, they turn their attention away from individual events and work on their own cause: technology tools for Occupy, built in a way that fits with Occupy's principles. They've been doing this since shortly after the occupation began one year ago Monday. And they've had a busy year. Read More

WeGov

Can Tech-Savvy Activists Change Mexico's Presidential Elections?

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 28 2012

Student-led protests in Mexico organized around the #yosoy132 hashtag. Photo: MaloMalverde

Are Sunday's presidential elections a fulcrum for the scales of power in Mexico? Is it fair to say Internet-powered student protesters are on one side of that balance beam? And if so, which way is it swinging? I asked Diego Beas, a columnist for Reforma and a keen observer of technology's role in politics throughout the Americas, and Andrés Monroy-Hernández, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research and a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Both have been following Mexico's presidential elections closely, and both have the tech background necessary to understand and explain the role of networked politics in this election, but the two have very different perspectives on whether the student protesters are getting anywhere. Click through for a video of our conversation. Read More

The Great Voter Tune-Out of 2012

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, June 21 2012

Youth voter turnout, 2012 vs 2008 primaries (courtesy Jason Rzepka)

Micah Sifry writes: It's the "'meh'-ing" of the president, says Roger Simon. "The 2012 campaign is the smallest ever," says another headline in Politico. All over the political landscape, signs abound of a dismal political season.

Now the Pew Research Center For the People & The Press is out with a meaty new survey that confirms that voter engagement with the 2012 election is down compared to the campaign of 2008. Last time around, at this point in the race, 63% of registered voters polled said they were "more interested" in the election than previously; that's now dropped to just 48% saying they're more interested than four years ago. That is, one is six registered voters have tuned DOWN their interest in the presidential battle compared to four years ago. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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