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How the State Department Plans to Make Humanitarian Crowdmapping Mainstream

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 3 2014

Progress on the mapping of Nimule, South Sudan

The U.S. Department of State has more than 859,000 Twitter followers and more than 518,000 likes on Facebook, and they want to mobilize those million plus followers for the benefit of humanitarian causes around the world.

In early March the State Department launched MapGive, a campaign to educate the masses about crowdmapping: why it is important and how one can help. MapGive, a collaboration between the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) and the Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE), is one of several projects in the third round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program designed to harness the power of crowdsourcing to improve government.

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New State Department Map Looks Inward

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Even as the conflict in Crimea continues to escalate, a simple new interactive map that Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled Tuesday builds on an ongoing State Department efforts to make the scope of its work that makes up around one percent of the federal budget more tangible. Read More

Coming to Grips With Our Not-So-New Surveillance State

BY Matt Stoller | Tuesday, March 18 2014

An FBI agent collects the agency's one-hundred-millionth fingerprint (National Archives and Records Admin.)

In this op-ed, Matt Stoller looks at the history of surveillance in America and argues that the current conversation about the NSA's massive system of dragnet surveillance is missing perspective. We've been living in surveillance state for decades, he writes, one that has long merged commercial and state snooping into individuals' private lives. And we're not powerless to fight it. Read More

Egyptian Activist Denied State Department Honor Over Anti-Semitic, Anti-American Tweets

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, March 12 2013

Samira Ibrahim (image: YouTube screengrab)

An Egyptian activist who was slated to be presented with a Woman of Courage Award at a ceremony hosted in Washington, D.C. by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama has been sent home after a conservative newspaper unearthed tweets in which she expressed anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiments. Read More

Kerry, Clinton talk Cybersecurity and State Department Cyber-Diplomacy at Hearings

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, January 25 2013

At his confirmation hearing Thursday, Secretary of State-designate John Kerry addressed how he views Internet-based threats, echoing comments made by current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the day before at a House hearing on the Benghazi incident. Read More

Ben Scott, State Department's Former Innovation Advisor, Joins New America Foundation

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, July 23 2012

Ben Scott, one of Hillary Clinton's former innovation advisors at the State Department, has joined the New America Foundation. Scott will be based in Berlin, where he is currently a visiting fellow at the German think ... Read More

New Rice University Paper Chronicles Impact of the Internet On U.S. Foreign Policy

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, May 22 2012

We all know that the Internet has transformed the way that the United States conducts diplomacy, and the way that it views national security, but where should we look to find evidence of this? This is the wide-ranging subject matter of a new paper published on Tuesday by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy. The paper provides a round-up of some of the major turns of events between 2005 and 2011 in the realms of Internet governance, the development of online public diplomacy at the State Department, the evolution of the Internet-fueled Arab Spring, and the establishment of the shadowy U.S. Cyber Command in Fort Meade, Maryland, among other things. Read More

Obama: Network Disruption in Syria, Iran, Facilitates Human Rights Abuse

BY Nick Judd | Monday, April 23 2012

In an executive order signed Sunday and released by the White House on Monday as President Barack Obama spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C., the president called for financial restrictions on entities involved in the disruption, monitoring, or tracking of computers and networks by the Syrian or Iranian governments. The order would block property in the U.S. owned by people involved firsthand in network tracking and disruption, as well as people who provided technology, finances or expertise. It calls out Syrian and Iranian Internet service providers by name, but may be inclusive enough to cause problems for the Swedish telecommunications supplier Ericsson, which has supplied Syrian telecommunications firm Syriatel, said the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Jillian C. York. Read More

From "Texts With Hillary" To a Face-to-Face Meeting

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, April 10 2012

The creators of Texts from Hillary meet the Secretary of State.

Talk about starting something online and moving it offline: The makers of the Texts from Hillary tumblr met with, and collected an autographed "TfH" submission from, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Someone on her staff emailed us yesterday and said that she had seen the site, she liked it and wanted us to come by and say hello for a few minutes," site co-creator Adam Smith told techPresident by phone today. Smith said that while she was "warm" — a contrast to the always-telling-people-what-to-do persona they've given her on the site — they didn't speak long. "She had another meeting to go to," he said. "I mean, she is the Secretary of State." Read More

U.S. State Dept. Creates New Online Animation "Behind The Electronic Curtain," Targeting Iran

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, April 6 2012

The State Department on Friday started promoting a new cartoon it created highlighting Iran's online system of censorship. It started promoting the video on Twitter in English, Chinese, Farsi and Arabic with the hashtag ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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