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Tag: Technology

Threat Modeling For Activists: Tips For Secure Organizing & Activism

Posted in Creative Commons, and Journalism

Threat modeling is a fancy term for “knowing how to protect yourself in different situations.”

The idea of “threat modeling” originated in the military before being adopted by security experts. While the field includes many advanced concepts that don’t interest us here, threat modeling can help us get a handle on our personal security choices. In an age of mass surveillance, choosing what steps to take can feel overwhelming. For a lot of people, it may be easier to do nothing at all than worry about protecting yourself online.

Unfortunately, even if you feel like “you’ve got nothing to hide,” many of us are still vulnerable: to government repression, to police brutality and surveillance, and to threats from fascist forces. Even if you’re completely safe, your social networks might be used to target other people close to you. You might not even be aware that someone near you is taking actions that make them a target for surveillance.

Developed In Iraq, Deployed At the DNC?: Cell-Jamming Technology Is Being Turned On Journalists

Posted in Journalism, MintPress News, and Occupy Wall Street

Technology developed to jam cellphones during the Iraq War may be getting deployed against journalists reporting on protests against the political establishment in the United States.

While police and government surveillance of protests, including monitoring of cellphone use, is well-documented, efforts to block signals at protests remains an oft-repeated, but never proven, rumor.

It may be impossible to definitively prove that authorities are using cellphone “jamming” technology, but journalists working with both mainstream and independent media reported unusual difficulties accessing the internet during recent protests at the gates of the Democratic National Convention, consistent with the effects this very real technology could have.

Inside The Fight To Protect Face-To-Face Visitation For Prisoners

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and The Establishment

When you’re behind bars, “there’s something psychologically uplifting about knowing someone is coming to visit you,” Jorge Renaud explained.

Renaud is an organizer with Grassroots Leadership and Texas Advocates for Justice who spoke with me by phone from Austin, Texas. He told me that unless you’ve been incarcerated, you can’t understand the emotional impact of a visit from a friend or loved one. His voice vibrated with emotion as he recalled those desperately needed visits, his tone expressing more than words could say.

This crucial connection with the outside world is endangered around the country, as more and more prisons and jails install video visitation systems. While the technology theoretically offers a new way to connect with prisoners—for those who can afford it—jails across the nation are also doing away with in-person visitation entirely, in favor of relying exclusively on these video visitations.

UPDATE: Uber & Lyft Cease Operations In Austin After Voters Reject Record-Breaking Electoral Campaign

Posted in Archive, Austin, Journalism, and MintPress News

Two big corporations with almost limitless bank accounts are bent on circumventing local law by buying a municipal election, according to their opponents.

Facing new regulations from the Austin City Council, Uber and Lyft, the popular ride-booking apps, brought the battle to the ballot box, launching a campaign to pass Proposition 1. Both drivers and paid petitioners canvassed widely for the issue last year, collecting thousands of signatures in order to trigger the election.

Based on the most recent electoral filings, Uber and Lyft have sunk over $8 million into Ridesharing Works For Austin, their joint PAC urging voters to vote in favor of Prop 1, the sole item on the ballot in the special election. By contrast, two smaller PACs opposed to the resolution, Our City Our Safety Our Choice PAC and Austin Unites, have raised less than $100,000 combined.

The election comes after months of negotiations between the City Council and the corporations, according toDelia Garza, a City Council member from Austin’s District 2. “Every time we tried to solve an issue they’d bring up, they’d move the ball,” she told MintPress News.

Map Of Cannabis Genome Could Keep Greedy Corporations From Patenting Pot DNA

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

An innovative digital map of the cannabis genome could help deepen scientific understanding of the plant, and it may also protect it from greedy corporations.

That’s the hope of Phylos Bioscience, a Portland-based company which recently launched The Phylos Galaxy. The app offers a 3D visualization of the relationship of hundreds of strains of cannabis, from the popular varieties sold in Oregon’s legal dispensaries to indigenous varieties found globally known as “landrace strains.”

Types are linked by their hereditary sequences to ancestor strains and visually grouped into “tribes” by their chemical and genetic similarities.

On April 23, Carolyn White, sales and marketing manager at Phylos, told the Willamette Week that her organization “set out to bring more knowledge and transparency to the industry” with the Galaxy and other efforts to document the diversity of the cannabis genome.

New Technologies Connect Prisoners to the Outside World

Posted in Journalism, SXSW, and The Texas Observer

Can the tech industry be recruited to help end mass incarceration?

On Friday at SXSW Interactive, part of Austin’s nine-day SXSW music, film and technology conference, a panel of app developers and nonprofit founders took on the question, connecting lower recidivism rates with keeping incarcerated people in touch with family and friends.

“If you haven’t been in prison, You can’t understand how important mail calls are,” said panelist Marcus Bullock.

Bullock’s the CEO of FlikShop, an app that allows family and friends to inexpensively turn photos into postcards that are then automatically mailed to prison facilities.