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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

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Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

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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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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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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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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