Category Archives: Politics

Navigating Homosex

“Even if the internet helps men find sex with men outside the gay identity, they’re still not safe from the heterosexual regime,” writes Huw Lemmey in The New Inquiry.

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Tech Pushes to Keep Its Spoils in Immigration Bill

Somini Sengupta of The New York Times discusses the efforts of Silicon Valley executives to keep their pro-tech, foreign friendly language in the new Senate immigration bill.

Human resource department heads from eight of the country’s largest technology companies popped into the offices of more than a dozen members of Congress. A new group called Engine Advocacy, which has focused on a so-called start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs, sent its representatives to the Hill and set up a new online platform, called http://www.keepushere.org, to encourage techies to send Twitter posts to members of Congress. And yet another industry-led coalition, called Partnership for a New American Economy, and supported by New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was rallying supporters to aim at crucial senators, state by state, to support the bill with a “virtual march.”

Zuckerberg’s FWD Raises Criticism

Somini Sengupta and Eric Lipton Report in the New York Times

“Fwd.Us, the new nonprofit advocacy group created by Mr. Zuckerberg and several technology executives and investors to push for an overhaul of immigration law, has bankrolled television ads endorsing the conservative stands taken by three lawmakers, prompting an outcry from liberal groups and a call to withhold advertisements from Facebook.”

The group is engaging in a kind of lobbying that works like this: when senators and congresspeople support FWD’s policies on immigration reform, FWD then promises to help these representatives on other issues, unrelated to immigration. As Sengupta and Lipto go on to say:

The group has faced the most vocal criticism for television advertisements sponsored by its two subsidiaries, which are known as Americans for Conservative Action and Council for American Job Growth. One of those spots takes swipes at President Obama’s health policies. Another lauds the Keystone XL pipeline, fiercely opposed by many environmental groups.

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After Petition Against CISPA, Obama Responds

Responding to a petition signed by over 100,000 people on the White House’s We The People website, the Obama Administration has issued clarifying remarks on its stance towards CISPA. The President does not support the version of CISPA that the House of Representatives passed earlier this month. And as the Senate is expected to put forth its own version of the bill, Obama hopes to provide guidance for any new legislation.

According to Obama’s official response, the Administration will only stand by information-sharing legislation that embody “three key principles.”

1. “minimizing information that can be used to identify specific individuals.” This means erring on the side of discretion regarding the personal information of users/clients especially if that data is irrelevant to a specific cyber attack.

This, of course, is uncomfortably vague. Without the need for warrants, how will government agencies and private companies decide what is relevant information and what is not?

2. “new information should enter the government through a civilian department rather than an intelligence agency.” Here, Obama would like to see that the data collected under the protection of CISPA is gathered not by the NSA or the CIA but through civilian channels, like the Department of Homeland Security.

A longstanding American axiom: the CIA should not be able to spy on US citizens.

3. “Any new legislation ought to provide legal clarity for companies…But it should not provide broad immunity for businesses and organizations.” The Administration is hoping to guard against “unwarranted disclosure of personal information,” as well as practices that would “likely to cause damage to third parties.”

This last principle hopes to rid the legislation of dangerously broad language that would embolden companies to needlessly turn over damning personal data.

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Updating an E-Mail Law From the Last Century

Somini Sengupta reports in the New York Times

The current statute requires a warrant for e-mails that are less than six months old. But it lets the authorities gain access to older communications — or bizarrely, e-mails that have already been opened — with just a subpoena and no judicial review.

The law governs the privacy of practically everything entrusted to the Internet — family photos stored with a Web service, journal entries kept online, company documents uploaded to the cloud, and the flurry of e-mails exchanged every day. The problem is that it was written when the cloud was just vapor in the sky.

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Court Declines to Rule in Wikileaks Complaint

“A military appeals court on Wednesday declined to rule on a lawsuit seeking greater access for journalists to court filings and proceedings in the criminal case against Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has admitted to leaking 700,000 confidential government documents to WikiLeaks,” reports Scott Shane of the New York Times.

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Europeans Reach Deal With Google on Searches

“Google has for the first time agreed to legally binding changes to its search results after an antitrust investigation by European regulators,” writes Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times .

After a two-year inquiry, the European Commission has accepted Google’s proposed settlement, according to two people briefed on the agreement who spoke anonymously because the proposal was not yet public.

Google will not have to change the algorithm that produces its search results, the people said. Under the proposal, Google agrees to clearly label search results from its own properties, like Google Plus Local or Google News, and in some cases to show links from rival search engines.

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Rubbing On Our Glowing Rectangles: The False Distinction Between “Online” And “The Real”

My post at BuzzFeed.

“The language of offline VS online dominates the way we think of social media and communication. Sociologist Nathan Jurgenson wants us to move beyond it.”

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WikiLeaks, The Pentagon Papers And The Free Press

The Columbia Journalism Review interviews James Goodale, chief counsel of the New York Times during the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and author of the forthcoming book, “Fighting for the Press.”

On the similarities between the Pentagon Papers and WikiLeaks/Julian Assange:

Well, I think it’s very much the same thing. We have a leak of classified information. And by the way — you’ve got to remember [Bradley] Manning’s the leaker. Everyone says Assange is a leaker. He’s not a leaker. He’s the person who gets the information.

So why we’re so concerned about the prosecution of Assange is what he did is the same as what the Times did in the Pentagon Papers, and indeed what they did with WikiLeaks. The Times published on its website the very same material WikiLeaks published on its website. So if you go after the WikiLeaks criminally, you go after the Times. That’s the criminalization of the whole process.

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