Slips of Paper

Why government websites are always such a mess; Microsoft responds to employees' concerns; and more.


  • This is civic tech: Fireside21 and the OpenGov Foundation have launched Article One, a constituent engagement tool that converts every phone call into actionable data, saving congressional offices the time and hassle of having to listen to and log each voicemail they receive. (note, CORRECTED LINK)

  • New on Civicist: Rufus Pollock, founder of Open Knowledge, shares an excerpt from his new book, “The Open Revolution: Rewriting the Rules for the Information Age.” He’ll be doing a book talk and signing at Civic Hall this Monday at 5:30pm.

  • Gizmodo’s Carolina Sinders reports on why the government still has so much trouble building good websites.

  • Apply: New America is looking for a one-year “2020 Census Technology Fellow” as part of its public interest technology program.

  • Tech and politics: Fight for the Future says a group of California Democratic legislators with close ties to AT&T just rammed through changes in state-level net neutrality legislation that completely guts the bill.

  • The Federal Election Commission will be holding several hours of hearings June 27-28 on “Internet communication disclaimers and definition of ‘public communication.'”

  • Speaking of which, here is Facebook’s ad platform rejecting a promotion from Reveal aiming to spread its story about conditions in federal detention facilities for migrant children, because the new algorithm wrongly categorizes journalistic content as political.

  • The AP reports: “Immigrant children as young as 14 housed at a juvenile detention center in Virginia say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells.”

  • “If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?” That’s what a federal judge said at a detention hearing where assistant federal public defender Erik Hanshew was trying to help his client. He adds, “This administration appears to have no infrastructure, policy or plan in place to deal with the destruction of families seeking refuge or a new life in our country. The disarray and confusion are on full display at the detention hearings I’ve attended for my clients — those are the hearings to determine whether a charged individual will be allowed to stay out on bond while their criminal case is pending.”

  • The online fundraiser started on Facebook for RAICES, the largest immigration legal service provider in Texas, now has garnered nearly than $16 million from 413,000 people.

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella writes to his employees that the company is “not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border,” adding that its “current cloud engagement” with ICE “is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management systems.” Company President Brad Smith goes into further detail in his own post explaining how and why Microsoft comes down strongly for sensible immigration reform. The question still lingers: if a government agency is actively abusing human rights, should any tech company help it?

  • A public records search by Ben Collins and Meghan Sullivan of NBC News finds that Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Palantir all have active contracts with ICE.