Sources of Concern

The increasingly strange story of Hawaii's missile alert; how the Chinese gov't spied on the African Union for five years; and more


  • Code for America’s Christopher Whitaker introduces the candidates for the 2018 National Advisory Council for the Brigade program.

  • The Omidyar Network’s Andrew Clarke explains why the firm is increasing their support for UK-centered governance and citizen engagement initiatives.

  • Pam Sethi writes for Torontoist that locals curious about Sidewalk Labs’ smart city project in Toronto should look to a New York-based health services startup recently spun-off from the Alphabet/Google company to get an idea of what to expect—and what to demand.

  • The story of Hawaii’s accidental missile alert just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Now, state investigators and Federal Communications Commission officials are saying that the worker at fault really did think that there was a real nuclear emergency, Cecilia Kang reports for The New York Times. “The investigation found that he had been a “source of concern” for 10 years and had twice before confused drills with real-world events,” Kang reports, a fact that raises more questions than it answers IMO.

  • Cyber-insecurity: Reports about the Strava leak make it sound worse and worse. According to Wired’s Matt Burgess, not only does the app’s heat map reveal the location and rough layouts of military installations, the data can be de-anonymized to see who ran where, how fast they went, and even what their heart rate was.

  • The Chinese government built a computer network for the African Union, which opened in 2012, and built themselves a convenient backdoor into the system; nobody noticed their nightly downloads between midnight and 2am until 2017, writes Simon Allison for the Mail & Guardian. The original investigation [in French] by Joan Tilouine and Ghalia Kadiri was published in Le Monde.

  • New Orleans may soon be home to the country’s most extensive video surveillance network, all in the name of fighting crime, Richard Fausset reports for The New York Times. But at what cost?

  • Media matters: Drew Lindsay reports for The Chronicle of Philanthropy on the growing trend of for-profit media companies adopting not-for-profit fundraising language with their customers, and what it may mean for true nonprofit journalism projects. It’s a trend Lindsay points out isn’t limited to the media: “The blurring of the lines between nonprofit and for-profit in journalism is not too different from what’s happening in charitable giving broadly,” he writes. “Silicon Valley philanthropists, for instance, are backing tech companies that promise to close the achievement gap in education. Private foundations are investing in renewable-energy businesses they believe can address climate change.”

  • Life in Facebookistan: At Davos last week, Facebook executives had a defiant stance, refusing to humble themselves before the world’s powerbrokers, Ben Smith reports for BuzzFeed.

  • Former Facebookers continue to be more outspoken, as in this interview by The Verge’s Casey Newton with former Facebook employee and now New America fellow, Dipayan Ghosh.

  • How the credits should have rolled last night.

  • Apply: Blue Ridge Labs has opened applications for their fellowship for high impact startups. Learn more here.

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  • DataMade is looking for a full-time developer. Learn more here.