Archive for the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

Case Study: Brownback Administration Shows How Not to Handle Dissent on Twitter

November 24, 2011 13 comments

Update: Senator Brownback has apologized for the actions of his staff which he has characterized as an “overreaction.”  This is a commendable move, though it’s unclear if the apology will travel as far and wide as the original story (which I still saw circulating via social media this morning).

Emma Sullivan's Tweet About Gov. Sam Brownback

The Scene: A group of high school students is touring Topeka, Kansas and visits the Governor’s office.  After meeting briefly with Gov. Sam Brownback, a student by the name of Emma Sullivan jokingly tweets the following:

“Just made mean comments at gov. brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot” | November 21, 2011

Rather than let the tweet die a quiet death virtually unseen in the vast sea of digital ether, Brownback’s Communications Director Sherienne Jones-Sontag decided to report Sullivan to her school and turn the entire event into a very public frackus that made the Governor of Kansas look like a moron wasting time with trifling matters and picking on a high school student.

Here’s a breakdown of why the situation was completely mishandled: Read more…

Missouri’s Ban on Teachers Friending Students on Facebook is a Golden Gate to Impracticality

July 30, 2011 3 comments

[Update: newly-signed law is now being challenged in court by the Missouri State Teachers Association | via Slashdot]

The Missouri Senate recently approved Senate Bill 54 the “Amy Hestir Student Protection Act” a law aimed at preventing schools from moving teachers facing misconduct allegations around from school to school without alerting parents.

Unfortunately, however, it contains some other more draconian provisions and social media takes some shrapnel.  Of concern is that it bans teachers from friending students on any social networking site, limiting them to creating fan pages to which all students in a class may have access.

Like so many ham-handed legislative measures, it curbs speech and interferes with education in the name of saving the children.

One of the many stupid facets of this bill is that the victim for which the bill is named was sexually assaulted by a teacher 20 years ago, long before the advent of social networking. Read more…

Progress Fighting Zombie SLAPP Lawsuits Against Bloggers

June 29, 2011 2 comments

Fighting off Zombie SLAPP Lawsuits

Recently I blogged about the potential legal threats that face bloggers (“Practice Safe Blogging – Legal Protection Against Zombie SLAPP Suits”).  I was contacted by Evan Mascagni, Legislative Assistant at the Public Participation Project which is working toward legal protections from SLAPP suits.  He described some of the progress the PPP has made toward fighting these sorts of suits: Read more…

The Impending Doom of the Telecoms

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Slashdot just reported on an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) report that (unsurprisingly) shows that US mobile phone plans are the most expensive in the world.

Cell phone companies (like cable/satellite TV providers) have long taken advantage of their customers by forcing them to pay for things that they don’t need (like refusing to offer a la carte channel selection, or bundling everything and structuring pricing so that one must go with a higher priced bundle in order to get enough time/channels).

Data is data, and data wants to be free.  We’re in a new era when consumers only need are devices that can connect to any wireless data network and we can do anything (email, surf the web, make phone calls with Google Voice).   The opportunities to corral consumers into profitable behaviors are evaporating every single day.

Read more…

The Relentless March of Radical Transparency: Polar Rose

April 22, 2009 2 comments

Flickr’s about to get more interesting.

Polar Rose, a new web application, can recognize faces in Flickr photos and tag them. I was wondering when this was finally going to happen (now I wonder how quickly it will be rolled out to other social media platforms like Facebook/MySpace). Now you can find all of those photos of you holding a corndog with your gut hanging out, unaware that you’re standing behind a family taking a group photo at a the local street fair.

It’s going to get a whole lot harder for people to lie about where they were in an era when a stray photo someone took from across the street that happened to catch you in the frame is suddenly part of the accessible permanent evidentiary record. Good or bad, it’s the new reality of radical transparency.