Monthly Archives: January 2012

Andrew Cuomo: Next, walk on water in The Economist

Really interesting article about someone who is actually getting stuff done. A model for the future of the Presidency? Andrew Cuomo: Next, walk on water | The Economist.


NDAA: Indefinite Detention in America

In the (justified) kerfuffle about SOPA, the New Year’s Eve signing of the National Defense Authorization Act has gotten lost. Which is a crime.The United States has entered the new year with a government that can indefinitely detain American citizens. This is not an arrest, it’s a detention – in the name of terrorism and national defense, the U.S. government can nebulously hold its citizens, without trial, without due process. This is one of the reasons the colonies rebelled against King George.The Obama administration signed this bill on a holiday to minimize the attention paid to its more objectionable provisions – but the disregard for basic American founding principles deserves attention, and objection.

The Obama administration used a signing statement to announce they will not use those powers widely. How reassuring! But signing the bill makes these powers legal for any subsequent president to use. And from rendition to waterboarding, the government’s recent history on civil liberties is less than impressive.

While the indefinite detention of citizens has occurred for years, at least when it’s not legal, it’s easier to contest the detention of American citizens. The increased transparency of legality is not reassuring. The central problem is not the bill itself – it’s a system where neither Congress nor the executive branch can be trusted.

Healthy, loud and even angry dissent is the cornerstone of functioning democracy – and this law makes dissent a whole lot scarier.

Image credit: Awkward.Turtle on Flickr

Rupert Murdoch & Other Great Thinkers on SOPA

For opponents of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) front, yesterday was a big day. The Obama administration released a statement opposing the proposed regulations and bill sponsor Lamar Smith weakened the bill, removing the provision regarding Domain Name System (DNS) blocking.

Both developments are excellent news for bill opponents, demonstrating that pressure from technology companies, civil rights activists and consumers is chipping away at the bill’s support and at some of the most extreme provisions. DNS blocking, in particular, would have allowed the U.S. to block foreign websites with illegal content.

The Obama administration outlined concerns about the broad provisions of the bill and the potential for exploitation by both private companies and regulatory bodies. This is cheering after the bill’s so-far bipartisan political support and broad corporate patronage.

By opposing SOPA the administration is not only making a stand in favor of free expression but is protecting the open regulatory space in which the technology sector thrives.  – ensuring that marketplace and the bill is a strong statement in favor of the growing technology sector and for online expression.

SOPA’s intended purpose –  protecting copyrighted content through stringent regulations targeting web communications companies – has begotten a proposed regulatory regime enabling copyright holders to attack the sites, companies and services that connect people, like Google, Craig’s List and YouTube. New tweeter Rupert Murdoch shares his insight into SOPA:

This is sort of like saying, “Hey, people in China sure do pirate a lot of Hollywood movies. Let’s shut China down!” SOPA would force Google to be responsible for filtering every single site it linked to – making web search onerously complicated and reducing space for new innovation in digital commerce.

More importantly, creating the processes for filtering and shutting down digital intermediaries (like Google) to block some bad actors is ripe for exploitation by much more serious bad actors. Who’s the benevolent oversight body here? The federal government? This is big government, at its most appalling.

The Tech Community & the Portland Economy

Companies less than five years old account for all of the net job growth in our country between 1980 and 2005. – The Startup America Partnership

Small businesses are engines of job creation – and the tech sector is unique in its ability to foster small businesses that become big businesses, really fast. Nationwide, this one of the few sectors in the American economy that’s growing – creating jobs, issuing new IPOs for companies like LinkedIn and Facebook (any minute now!).

My town of Portland is investing in tech to create jobs and spur economic growth. A recent Portland Development Commission grant of $500,000 funded investment in early stage companies based here, earning matching investment from private investors.

Sam Adams, the current mayor of Portland, has embraced the tech community – spearheading the PDC grant program and supporting partnerships with the Portland State Business Accelerator, Portland Incubator Experiment, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and other tech associations.

As the 2012 mayoral election approaches, candidates are following Mayor Adams’ lead and building relationships with the tech community. Eileen Brady has emerged as an early tech front-runner, with endorsements from prominent folks like Merrick (just one name!), Josh Friedman, Nitin Khanna and Scott Kveton. She has followed this early splash with continued conversations about the ways her administration would support tech, like improving the regulatory environment and focusing on partnerships with educational institutions to foster innovation and develop the qualified workforce.

As a member of the Portland tech community, I’m eager to see more news stories like this one and this one and this one – about tech companies bringing growth and innovation to the Portland economy. With support from city and state regulators, tech can play a leading role in economic recovery. At this stage, it isn’t so important what Eileen’s specific initiatives are for the tech community – I’m more excited that she has made tech a focus both for her campaign and for her growth strategies for the Portland economy.

Learn more in person: Brady will be hosting a tech meetup,Tuesday, January 24th from 6:30-9pm at the Doug Fir (suggested contribution $15).

Image credit: danoStL on Flickr