Local Transparency, Public Records Conundrum, and More

  • Congress considers vehicle mileage tax
    What makes this so concerning, other than the sheer expense just to conduct this initial study, is it would involve tracking individual vehicles. Are the staffers pushing this asleep at the switch? Even if the logistics and enforcement of this weren’t a nightmare in their own right, the potential for abuse of the collected data is mind boggling.
  • Google announces tools for supporting the public sector
    Actually, reading through their press release and looking at the project site, this just looks like a re-bundling of some of their offerings with some guidance on how the selected tools can be best used by folks in the government, local and federal. As a first step it makes sense, to reach their state goal of enhancing communication between governments at all levels and their citizenry. I’d like to see more, though, a way of building community amongst and around using this technology in the government. The project as it stands now seems like it would encourage each agency or office to build its own silo, possible re-implementing the same wheel over and over even if they have some very fancy spokes.
  • Some notable artists object to UK three strikes provisions
    The Register also discusses UK Music, not BPI oddly enough, trying to smooth over these dissenting voices. Not surprisingly, some of the artists speaking out are ones who have experimented with models that are more resilient to or even rely upon free file sharing.
  • Locally focused, government transparency app
    RWW looks briefly at an application, CitySources, launched at TC50 that hits too sweets spots I think are sometimes overlooked with transparency projects. First, it is focused on the local level rather than state or federal. Second, it is designed specifically for the typical citizen to use and contribute not just hacktivists.
  • Paper collecting best practices for promoting new music online
    As Mike Masnick at Techdirt explains, this paper, part of Bas Gasmayer’s thesis work, covers models that have been well documented in the blogosphere but extracts and presents some good general guidelines from them. I think it is worth bookmarking to have ready for citation when advocating for new and experimental models in online distribution.
  • Recommendations for safety, privacy on Facebook
    RWW provides a short, clear list of concrete things you can do with your Facebook account to mitigate your risk. The items are also very specific, rather than just urging you to review the large set of often confusing settings. They also provide screen shots which makes this guide very accessible and simple to follow.
  • Update on the progress of M-Lab
    M-Lab is a joint project between Google and the New America Foundation, specifically its Open Technology Initiative. The director of OTI offers a quick post on Google’s public policy blog detailing how the existing M-Lab tools have been used to date and some new ones built since the project’s launch. I am glad to see M-Labs growing and evolving but am still waiting for more details on how independent hacktivists can help out with its projects or with OTI.
  • Professor posts illegal guide to accessing public records
    This one just makes my head hurt. It is worse than the case when some state or agency is claiming copyright on the text of a bill or law itself. Here, the public records are not in dispute but basically the more easy to digest howto on getting at that data. I hope the professor gets his wish, a law suit to contest this recursively bad statute and hopefully overturn or amend it.
  • EPIC privacy report card for the Obama administration
    As Xeni points out on BB, the report is pretty mixed. I am not entirely surprised at where the administration is graded poorly. There were and still are clear opportunities for improvement in consumer protections and cyber liberties. The administration’s continued stance on the NSA wiretapping leave me skeptical of future improvement at least on the latter.

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