Thousand Cuts

When the internet of things can't understand you; the resistance meets for a "Wonkathon"; and more.


  • Trump watch: Yesterday in a five and a half hour public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey acknowledged that his agency is investigating possible coordination and collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election, Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjian, and Devlin Barrett report for The Washington Post.

  • The U.S. is requiring that U.S.-bound passengers aboard certain foreign airlines place large electronics like laptops and tablets in their checked luggage in response to an unspecified terrorism threat, David Shepardson and Mark Hosenball report for Reuters. The ban will affect 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

    “If this is true, the threat of attempts to disguise explosives within laptops and other large electronic devices carried through the last point of departure airports bound for the United States is not new. What appears to be new is this latest overreaction,” a former administration official familiar with aviation security procedures told BuzzFeed News’ Leticia Miranda and Matthew Zeitlin. “It appears to be a Muslim ban by a thousand cuts.”

    On Twitter, Zeynep Tufekci, Evan Hill and others noted the risk that journalists and activists will take with their personal and work information, and the risk that things might get stolen (or broken) out of checked luggage. (My mother was *not pleased* the time she found out I had checked my laptop on my way home for a school vacation one year.)

  • Reports on the resistance: “And ‘more tech’ isn’t the answer to everything. A lot of voters are over 50. We’re going to have to find the right mix of tech and good old-fashioned door-to-door outreach,” campaign consultant and former Clinton campaign adviser Nicole Derse told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garolfi, who reported on how new organizing groups that have sprung up as part of the Trump resistance are fighting burnout and maintaining momentum. Last week representatives from 31 groups met in Oakland for a “Wonkathon” to discuss strategy and next steps.

  • The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is still fighting to halt the construction of the last big of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe through the justice system, and they are raising funds to support their efforts on the social justice crowdfunding site CrowdJustice.

  • If I Could Turn Back Time: Charlie Sorrel reports for Fast Company on a mirror copy of the EPA site as it was on January 19, 2017, which the EPA itself had to post in response to a FOIA request by three or more people.

  • Nick Corasaniti reports for The New York Times on New York State’s progress getting everyone statewide on a broadband internet connection by 2018.

  • New York City is getting its first smart city Neighborhood Innovation Lab, which will be located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, Jason Shueh reports for Statescoop. “Starting this week, the lab will hold a series of strategy sessions for Brownsville’s community leaders to plan next steps,” Shueh writes. “Leaders will help the city identify neighborhood needs over the next four months, and they are planning a community forum for residents in May. Come June, the city will also install smart city technologies like solar powered benches with cell phone charging and interactive LinkNYC kiosks for online access, and collect feedback on the projects.”

  • Diversity in tech: Sonia Paul reports for Backchannel on the implications of technology that cannot understand or accommodate accents.

  • The Omidyar Network (a Civic Hall sponsor) is providing seed funding for an Anti-Defamation League center in Silicon Valley that will help companies fight hateful speech online, Philip Rojc reports for Inside Philanthropy.

  • The Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation and Rita Allen Foundation are launching a joint fund to support solutions that “improve the flow of accurate information,” the Democracy Fund’s Tom Glaisyer writes.

  • Writing for Global Voices’ Advox, Ivan Sigal suggests that we look to countries like Russia, China, and Iran as cautionary examples of regulating hate speech and fake news online. “We ought to be especially attuned to states that restrict the “false” expression of their citizens, while at the same time creating misleading narratives and stories about themselves,” Sigal writes. “When states attempt to control narratives, it’s time to start looking for signs of tyranny.” He cites a recent study by Yochai Benkler and Ethan Zuckerman that points out fake news is more a symptom of “human choices and political campaigning, not one company’s algorithm.” I’d say it’s a must-read for anyone working on shaping online discourse.

  • A Brazilian Facebook user was fined for posting a spoofed screenshot about a mayoral candidate in Sao Paulo, Taisa Sganzerla reports for Advox.

  • Media matters: Eriq Gardner reports for The Hollywood Reporter on how TechDirt’s Mike Masnick is contesting the suit by that guy who thinks he invented email, who is represented by the lawyer who took down Gawker for Peter Thiel / Hulk Hogan.

  • Moment of zen: Jason Koebler explains for Vice Motherboard why Drake is a right-to-repair advocate.