Over the years, we've been happy to see Google launch and then continue to expand its "Transparency Report," highlighting both government and private attempts to censor content or get information on users. Given how successful that's been, Twitter and Microsoft have joined in as well, with similar transparency reports.
In fact, there's been an ongoing argument between these tech companies and the DOJ, seeking permission to be able to include more data concerning FISA court orders to their transparency reports in order to be more transparent and complete -- something we'd hope the government should want, but so far, has been fighting.
The latest entrant is Facebook, who has finally released a transparency report covering government requests for data (so, no info on other types of requests, such as copyright takedowns). The report shows that Facebook is certainly rejecting a decent number of requests that it feels are inappropriate. It also shows the data on the US using "ranges" (unlike every other country). So, for the US, they note that there were between 11,000 and 12,000 requests, impacting 20,000 to 21,000 accounts (and they complied with 79% of the requests). The use of ranges is consistent with Google, Twitter and Microsoft's reports, where the government has only allowed such reports to include data on national security letters if there was a range given. This is stupid and petty by the DOJ. Having the exact aggregate number of requests -- which might include other kinds of warrants/subpoenas as well as NSLs or FISC orders -- isn't going to reveal anything dangerous.
What's interesting is that the included FAQ insists that this report "contains every request for user data we received for the first six months of 2013." If that's true then that suggests that Facebook is including FISC orders as well as NSLs. However, other companies, like Google and Microsoft have indicated that they haven't been allowed to include FISC orders, which are often under gag orders.
Oddly, and for no clear reason, Facebook put the "transparency" report behind its registration wall -- meaning that you can't see it if you're not a Facebook member or if you're not logged in.
Steven Clift is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts in making government more transparent and accountable through technology.
Imagine. I am standing on my front porch in Minneapolis, trying to speak out to my neighbors:
“Yes, I love the idea of starting a community garden. Let’s meet.”
“Councilmember, what more can we do to get the FAA to respond to our complaints about dramatic airport noise increases in our neighborhood?”
“My neighbor, an Iraq vet, heard five shots and ran to the victim in the street as he lay dying. I never want to see a sobbing, collapsing mother need to come to a crime scene again.”
“Let’s have a “Community Eat-up” and support that new Salvadoran restaurant in our neighborhood. Who will join us?”
“Great. So glad you found seven neighbors to quickly bake those lasagnas for your friend’s memorial service today.”
“I found a lost puppy …”
If it was before 2008, these real examples would have remained unheard across my neighborhood.
Imagine being connected to over 1,000 of your neighbors via an online public space for community exchange (that’s 25% of households in my neighborhood). You are able to connect with local elected officials who represent you, small business owners and workers, and local civil servants and community groups. Everyone who cares about your local community is welcome.
This is my own Standish-Ericsson neighborhood today – connected, vibrant, inclusive, and building community every day.
Today, E-Democracy’s BeNeighbors.org effort connects well over 15,000 people mostly in the Twin Cities across a network of dozens of online Neighbors Forums. Our lessons and assistance are available for networks everywhere.
Led by volunteers in each neighborhood and powered by open source technology, we are working to build bridges across race, income, generations, immigrant and native-born, and more. Thanks to the Knight and Bush foundations and other donors, our dedicated outreach team, including recent refugees and immigrants, even go door to door in St. Paul, MN.
Our view - Every neighborhood should be connected using whatever technology works for them.
The undersigned companies believe that it is time for the world’s governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information.
While the undersigned companies understand that governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety and security, we strongly believe that current laws and practices need to be reformed.
Consistent with established global norms of free expression and privacy and with the goals of ensuring that government law enforcement and intelligence efforts are rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent, and subject to oversight, we hereby call on governments to endorse the following principles and enact reforms that would put these principles into action.
Ugh. When China’s new president Xi Jinping began his tenure earlier this year, he made all of the usual and grandiose promises a new leader often makes about about fostering a more transparent and less corrupt people’s government, building a more...
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