DemTools 2.0; uncovering the inventor of BitCoin; Lord Voldemort v. Trump; and more.
This is civic tech: Using the crowdfunding platform LaunchGood, Muslim Americans have raised nearly $120,000 to support the victims of last week’s mass shooting in San Bernadino, Teresa Watanabe reports for the Los Angeles Times. LaunchGood itself is a creation of Chris Blauvelt, a Detroit resident who converted to Islam three months before 9/11, and it has raised $5 million for 473 projects in 39 countries, with Muslim Americans accounting for 80 percent of that money, she reports.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) today is unveiling DemTools 2.0, an upgrade and expansion of NDI’s tools for democracy and civil society, including three new applications designed to “help citizens report problems in their communities, help civic groups manage data, and better prepare governments to manage petitions from their people.” The event will feature keynote remarks by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and a panel discussion including leaders from the USIP PeaceTech Lab, the White House Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Sunlight Foundation, Amazon Web Services, and NuCivic.Register for the livestream (12 – 2 p.m. ET) or join the conversation on Twitter with #DemTools.
Trump watch: 68 percent of Trump’s Republican supporters say they would still back him as a third-party candidate, Susan Page reports for USA Today.
Best response to Donald Trump’s racism: Harry Potter book author J.K Rowling, who tweeted, in response to a BBC story that people are calling Trump “Lord Voldemort”: “How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad.” That’s been retweeted 176,000 times as of this morning.
Brave new world: Americans attracted to ISIS online are finding a seductive “echo chamber” Scott Shane, Matt Apuzzo and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times. It’s consistent message, they write, is that “the Islamic State is a social movement devoted to protecting Muslims and fighting an unfair global economic system; that it does not discriminate on the basis of race or nationality; that it uses violence in self-defense and in ways that mimic Western films and video games; and that Westerners who join the fight in Syria and Iraq are normal people fighting a just war.”
Fast Company’s Sarah Kessler reports on proposed legislation sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would require social media companies to report online terrorist activist to the government. In response, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s international director, Danny O’Brien, said: “Social media companies shouldn’t take on the job of censoring speech on behalf of any government, and they certainly shouldn’t do so voluntarily. These kinds of speech restrictions set online platforms on a very slippery slope. Who defines “terrorism”? Does Facebook, for example, intend to enforce its policies only against those that the United States government describes as terrorists, or will it also respond if Russia says someone is a terrorist? Israel? Saudi Arabia? Syria? It’s particularly worrisome that we’re not even talking here about speech that’s actually been found unlawful.”
Seventeen consumer organizations led by the Consumer Federation of America have written to the House Financial Services Committee expressing their opposition to the Data Security Act of 2015, arguing that the draft bill would have the effect of weakening existing state protections and eliminating the means of redress currently available to consumers in many states.
Andy Greenberg and Gwern Branwen think they’ve figured out who invented BitCoin, as they report for Wired.
Showing once again its acumen in skating to where the hockey puck is going, media startup News Deeply is now launching Arctic Deeply, to focus on the economic, environmental and social ramifications of the melting of the Arctic sea ice, Jessica Hullinger reports for Fast Company.