Deplorable

LinkNYC turns off internet browsers; US debate moderators will not be required to use questions from social media; and more.


  • Responding to complaints that the new LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks were attracting too many users who would linger all day, the kiosks will no longer have working internet browsers, at least not until the operators figure out new restrictions of some kind, Patrick McGeehan reports for the New York Times. The president of the Garment District Alliance called the situation “deplorable.” McGeehan writes that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer “likened turning off the browsers to the decision during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s to block pay phones from accepting calls. All along Amsterdam Avenue, she said, crack dealers were using pay phones as business offices. ‘When we changed the incoming calls, we got rid of the drug dealers at the phone booths,’ Ms Brewer recalled. ‘I don’t know where they went, but they were gone.'”

    If anyone considered using the issue as a jumping off point for a conversation about larger problems, like homelessness and perhaps the insufficiencies of existing homeless services, it doesn’t show up in this particular piece.

  • Ben Tarnoff opines for The Guardian that elite technologist’s idealism is what makes them so often infuriating. “And if you believe that you are saving the world through an act of creative rebellion, then you may react angrily to criticism, because it feels like ingratitude. Here you are struggling to destroy the Empire, and this is the thanks you get?”

    Tarnoff continues: “Tech elites may like to think of themselves as rule-breakers, but they play by the same rules as the rest of American capitalism. The future they imagine for us is one in which markets predominate and small numbers of large corporations continue to own society’s wealth. This is ultimately what the Rebel Alliance has to offer: the same political economy as the Empire, with better UI. Fortunately, there’s nothing foreordained about this future. Forging an alternative will require following the Indian example, and building a movement from below. It may bruise a few egos, and inflame a few tempers, but the emotional discomfort it causes the billionaire prophets of Silicon Valley will be well worth the result.” Not sure what this ‘movement from below’ would look like but otherwise, Tarnoff makes some fine points. (h/t Adam Bard)

  • David McCabe reports for The Hill that although Facebook will help “source” questions for the town-hall-style presidential debate, the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates said the moderators will not be obligated to use them. This is a far cry from the earlier plan to have half of the questions “posed directly by citizen participants and the other half…posed by the moderator based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources.”

  • We’re gonna need a bigger fire hose: Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneir writes for the Lawfare blog that he has heard from multiple companies that they are experience cyberattacks more frequently and of greater strength than ever before, and that all the signs point to the fact that a large military force is systematically testing the defense capabilities of companies, including the registrar of top-level domains like .com and .net.

  • Leaders of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International explain in the New York Times’ opinion pages why the president should pardon Snowden.

  • A now-defunct organization called The Can Kicks Back that advocated for reducing national debt by cutting vital services like Social Security has had their website taken over by the organization Social Security Works.

  • Attend: The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation is holding their Startup in Residence 2016 Demo Day this Friday. The event is free but you must RSVP.

  • Prospective attendees of the Sunlight Foundation’s annual Transparency Camp are invited to submit ideas for sessions they’d like to lead themselves. The unconference will take play October 14 – 15 in Cleveland, Ohio. Learn more here.

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