Sunday, April 10, 2016

Groups call for Privacy Shield to go 'back to drafting table'

Several groups are speaking out against a proposed agreement between the Commerce Department and European Commission that would let companies transfer Europeans' data to the United States.

In a March 16 letter (pdf) to European Union data protection authorities, the EU Parliament and the Dutch Presidency of the EU, 27 organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called for reform of U.S. law and limits on what data can be collected before the agreement, called the Privacy Shield, is enacted.

Open data gets meaningful through new MIT project

A new project aims to make it easier to find interesting and useful data among all the information that federal, state and local government open to the public.

The MIT Media Lab is working on Data USA, a free visualization of U.S. public data, according to a New York Times article. Fitting with the theme of openness, the project's software code is open source.

Hotels Step Up Their Game to Attract Embassy Business

When King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands has a birthday, everyone gets to party. The country marks the day — April 27 — with several large events in the Washington, D.C., area that double as National Day celebrations.

Bevy of International Products Expands Our Notions of Beauty

A stroll through the makeup section of a department store can feel like a mini trip around the world. It’s obvious that products with foreign-sounding names take up plenty of counter and shelf space. There’s France’s Chanel, Israel’s Ahava, England’s Burberry, Italy’s Dolce & Gabbana — you get the idea — all enticingly packaged with promises of transformation. And maybe transportation, too.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Montgomery MIX: Alabama bets on high-speed exchange

On Jan. 6, Troy Cable saw latency in its transmissions go from 64 milliseconds to 2 milliseconds when it became the first cable and Internet provider to connect to the new Montgomery Internet Exchange.

The need for speed is a driving force behind the exchange, known as MIX, which went live Jan. 20. MIX is the result of a partnership between the city, county, state, Maxwell/Gunter Air Force Base and the Air Force’s Air University. It lets residents, government and businesses in Montgomery, Ala., experience faster Internet connections by enabling them to connect via local servers rather than through a data hub hundreds of miles away.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blair House Plays Host To American History

Washington is home to many buildings that are both iconic and secretive at the same time. Blair House, known more casually as the president’s guest house, is no different.

Built in 1824, Blair House consists of four interconnected townhouses located on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the White House. The federal-style complex has hosted a variety of heads of state and visiting delegations, but it was originally home to Dr. Joseph Lovell, the first surgeon general of the U.S. Army. It got its name, however, shortly after a circuit court clerk-turned-newspaperman took up residence there in 1837, seven years after Francis Preston Blair first moved to D.C. at the invitation of President Andrew Jackson. Blair’s editorials in a local Frankfort, Ky., newspaper appealed to Jackson, who asked Blair and his wife Eliza to turn a faltering D.C. paper called the Globe into a pro-Jackson administration publication.

The tech that locks down ID cards

Across federal and state governments alike, secure identity cards are getting securer. Whether the card allows for access into a government building or travel to another country, new technologies are making it easier for officials to verify identities.

Take the new Permanent Resident Card, or green card, which lets holders live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently began issuing redesigned cards, the front of which features ink that shifts from gold to green, embedded radio frequency identity (RFID) technology, tactile laser personalization, a laser-engraved fingerprint and a unique background design.