California says employers can not demand access to one’s social media profiles

In a world where privacy is under constant assault, a small win.

(From SFGate.com)

Employers and institutions of higher education will be barred from demanding user names and passwords to social-media accounts of employees, job applicants and students under two bills that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Thursday.

California is the fourth state to enact such a ban this year. Congress defeated a similar measure. Those actions came after reports emerged that employers and university officials were demanding access to social media accounts.

Click here for the story.

Can’t pass the Cyber Security Act through Congress? Some would go other routes.

The concern is that the Executive Branch is simply declaring areas of the Internet to be under the control of regulators. We have a legislative process for this sort of thing I thought. Just because a piece of legislation doesn’t get through Congress (largely due to popular dissent) doesn’t mean one simply walks down Pennsylvania Avenue and gets the President to declare a regulation anyway. For all citizens of the Internet, this should be of very real concern.

(From Reuters)

The prospective order would give the agencies 90 days to propose new regulations and create a new cybersecurity council at the Department of Homeland Security with representatives from the Defense Department, Justice Department, Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Commerce, a former government cyber-security official told Reuters.

“It tells those who have the ability to regulate to go forth and do so,” said the person, who is currently outside the government and spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preserve access to government officials.

Click here for the article.

Who Wants to 3D Print a House? I do!

3D printing is absolutely amazing and now one can buy a 3D printer for $500. This is revolutionary.

People have already constructed complicated tools, including things like guns (which work) using 3D printers. So why not “print” a house. I am all for it.

(From Popsci.com)

3-D printers can make airplanes and their parts, food and more — why not entire buildings? A professor at the University of Southern California aims to print out whole houses, using layers of concrete and adding plumbing, electrical wiring and other guts as it moves upward.

Click here for the article.

Let Freedom Ring Online (And everywhere else)

A new bill moving through Congress seeks to make it harder for authoritarian regimes to clamp down on social media. If a company wishes to sell software or hardware to an “internet repressive regime” it will have to report it. Good thing we didn’t pass SOPA I guess. That’d be embarrassing.

(From Fierce Government IT)

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in December 2011 introduced the Global Online Freedom Act which would prohibit or require reporting of the sale of Internet technologies and services to “Internet-restricting” countries (as determined by the State Department). In March 2012, GOFA was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights; the bill has stalled in the House.

Click here for the story.

Interesting ad (I know) from a site called Open-Site.org, I think I might actually use it.

The ad is beautifully done and was sent to me by someone at the organization from what I can surmise.

It speaks nicely to the wave of cyber protests which have swept the world. I have watched these protests from the front row (online, as many of you have also) and the video captures the spirit.

The video promotes a website, from what I can figure out having just looked at it, which allows one to access university level learning materials for free (as far as I can see.) We are long time proponents of this kind of education and we are excited to see this site.

I once worked as a political director for a small non-profit called Openworld which is very interested in the issues presented below. High quality education, any time, anywhere in the world. Now that is revolutionary.

Good luck guys. We’ll keep an eye on your progress.

How Google Makes its Maps and How it is Changing the World with Them

I use Google Maps a few times a week. Whether doing research for an article, ordering pizza, or figuring a new route to run it is an invaluable tool for me.

The attached article from The Atlantic looks at the technological magic which goes into each map.

(From The Atlantic)

If Google’s mission is to organize all the world’s information, the most important challenge — far larger than indexing the web — is to take the world’s physical information and make it accessible and useful.

“If you look at the offline world, the real world in which we live, that information is not entirely online,” Manik Gupta, the senior product manager for Google Maps, told me. “Increasingly as we go about our lives, we are trying to bridge that gap between what we see in the real world and [the online world], and Maps really plays that part.”

Click here for the article.

Twitter Takes an Interest in “Girls Who Code”

I am pleased to see such an initiative. Too few women become engineers. Engineering should be encouraged more as an option for girls and Twitter is making some effort in this direction. If my daughters were to become engineers, I’d be a happy dad. So long as they did not also marry engineers. That could be a recipe for disaster!

(From TechCrunch)

Twitter Software Engineer Sara Haider, who co-chairs Twitter’s female engineers group with Olivia Watkins, have been spearheaded the company’s efforts with Girls Who Code, spending time with the current class of young women, helping each develop Android apps built off of Twitter’s API.

Haider explains, “Girls Who Code aligns with our vision for how we want to tackle the issue of the supply of women in engineering…this looks at the other end of funnel which inspires young women to enter engineering.”

Click here for the article.