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Democratic Promise: Aaron Swartz, 1986-2013

BY Micah L. Sifry | Saturday, January 12 2013

Aaron Swartz at a Boston Wikipedia Meetup, August 2009, By Sage Ross.

Aaron Swartz, a leading activist for open information, internet freedom, and democracy, died at his own hand Friday January 11. He was 26 years old. There is no single comprehensive list of his good works, but here are some of them: At the age of 14 he co-authored the RSS 1.0 spec--taking brilliant advantage of the fact that internet working groups didn't care if someone was 14, they only cared if their code worked. Then he met Larry Lessig and worked closely with him on the early architecting of Creative Commons, an immense gift to all kinds of sharing of culture. He also was the architect and first coder of the Internet Archive's OpenLibrary.org, which now has made more than one million books freely available to anyone with an internet connection. "We couldn't have come this far without his crucial expertise," Open Library says on its about page. He also co-founded Reddit.com, the social news site, and Demand Progress, an online progressive action group that played a vital role in the anti-SOPA/PIPA fight. He also contributed occasionally to Personal Democracy Forum, writing this article on why wikis work and this essay on "parpolity" or the idea that nested councils of elected representatives could be used to represent a whole country, for our 2008 book, Rebooting America. He was a fellow traveler. Read More

Hey: We're Working with Fight for the Future on "The #InternetVotes"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 19 2012

Last winter, networked citizens, organizations and internet platform providers used the power of the web to engage their members and organize their users around their concerns over the proposed Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts. Millions of people responded by calling, faxing and emailing their representatives in Congress and the bills were dropped. Now all kinds of groups are working to use the power of the Internet to help Americans register and turn out to vote this November. As part of that effort, Personal Democracy Media is pleased to be partnering with Fight for the Future, with the support of the Ford Foundation, on a nonpartisan initiative called "The Internet Votes" that will use social media and open data to increase voter registration and turnout among the constituency that many people have started calling "the Internet public." Read More

A Platform for Open Bill Markup Is Now Open Source

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, September 12 2012

When House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa announced that he was rolling out a platform for collaborative bill markup, called MADISON, in conjunction with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), his staff assured techPresident that it would be released as open source — sometime.

That time has come. Yesterday, the Open Gov Foundation, an outgrowth of Issa and Wyden's partnership that was announced at Personal Democracy Forum earlier this year, posted the code for MADISON to GitHub.Read More

WeGov

Jordanian Websites Go Dark in Protest of Proposed Legislation to Censor Internet

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, August 31 2012

On Wednesday, Jordan's Internet went dark (screenshot from 7iber.com)

More than two hundred Jordanian websites went dark on Wednesday to protest proposed government legislation that would give the government sweeping powers to censor the Internet. In contrast to other Middle Eastern countries, Jordan's government, because of its unique economic and geographical circumstances, cares very much about public opinion. Read More

Copyright, the Internet, and Congressional Palace Intrigue

BY Nick Judd | Friday, July 13 2012

TechPresident escapee former associate editor Nancy Scola drills in to the Intellectual Property Attaché Act, a bill Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) seemed poised to include in a Tuesday markup session at his House Judiciary Committee before tech blogs and Internet people freaked out. The bill has not made it to markup. She writes that the bill seemed like a post-SOPA trial balloon from Smith, a hard-liner when it comes to copyright and the chairman of one of the most powerful committees in the House. And he was floating it into an uncertain atmosphere — air that longstanding supporters of the old-guard content industry might not find as breathable as they have in the past. Read More

Messin' with Lamar Smith, Revisited

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 22 2012

Remember that grassroots fundraising campaign to put a "Don't Mess with the Internet" billboard in the home district of Rep. Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas and sponsor of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act? All of the money required came in, and Fight for the Future, the advocacy group opposing more stringent copyright protections online, writes that the billboard went up. Read More

A Geek PAC Raises $10,000 For Television Campaign Against Texas Congressman Lamar Smith

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, May 11 2012

TestPAC is raising money to oppose Texas Congressman Lamar Smith. Image: TestPAC

TestPAC, the political action committee formed earlier this year by several members of the Reddit community, has raised just over $10,000 since the launch of its May 5 "moneybomb," according to the organization's web ... Read More

Mike Masnick: Accidental Activist to Some, "Demagogue" to Others

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, May 10 2012

Mike Masnick, founder and CEO of Techdirt and Floor64, Photo: Flickr/Dennis Yang

Mike Masnick runs Techdirt.com, one of the most popular hubs on the web for news and opinion about innovation policy and the Internet. His uncompromising views on copyright have made him one of the most controversial and widely-read voices in a sprawling international conversation about the future of creative industry. Read More

As Controversial Cybersecurity Legislation Moves Through House, Activists Make a Quiet Start

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, April 18 2012

Image: The growing Internet citizenry is using sarcasm, wit and Twitter to draw attention to a controversial cybersecurity bill

After Internet businesses and activists forced the halt of the Stop Online Piracy Act, it seemed as if a new political force had come alive to advocate on Capitol Hill for an Internet with hard limits on government surveillance and a structure that favored free access to information over centralized control. But faced with new cybersecurity legislation that civil liberties groups say would contribute to exactly the opposite, the headline-grabbing protests that defeated SOPA are nowhere to be seen. So what's happening? Read More

House Intelligence Committee Restructures Cybersecurity Bill 'CISPA:' Drops Language On Intellectual Property

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, April 13 2012

The House Intelligence Committee moved to address some of the concerns voiced by civil liberties advocates and a group representing Silicon Valley startups this week and dropped some of the language that the groups had ... Read More