Letter to My Representatives on SESTA and FOSTA

I am currently retired, but for many years I was lead developer of software that now runs 30% of the web. I helped build an open source companydedicated to the open web—that employs over 600 people. I’ve been at this awhile, doing my part to champion small platforms and lawful speech along the way. I was there for the CDA black out in 1996 and the resulting Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. We blacked out WordPress.com and WordPress.org for SOPA/PIPA in 2012.

Here we are again. Lawmakers have combined the worst elements of SESTA and FOSTA into a “monster of a bill that would be a disaster for Internet intermediaries, marginalized communities, and even trafficking victims themselves.” SESTA is “a terribly drafted bill which no one can explain how it will actually stop sex trafficking.” There are “half a dozen ways #SESTA-#FOSTA could have been drafted to do less damage to small platforms and lawful speech”.

Much of this could have been avoided if anyone in Congress were actually interested in understanding how the internet worked, and how to write a bill that actually addressed problems around sex trafficking.” Congress has yet to demonstrate the curiosity or capacity to understand the internet. CDA, SOPA, PIPA, SESTA, and FOSTA is a record of bad faith and insistent ignorance.

Sources referenced:

 

Use of Force, Disability, and Transparency

Here’s a short letter on use of force, disability, and transparency I sent to my representatives:

To those in Dripping Springs, Hays County, and Texas state government,

In response to a public information request for use of force policies, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office provided only eight pages of policy. The policy does not address deescalation, chokeholds, duty to intervene, warn before shooting, moving vehicles, transparency, or reporting. For more, I discuss what little there is of the policy here:

https://ryan.boren.me/2016/07/04/foia-use-of-force-policy-and-then-ask-these-questions/

I share this to bring awareness and to urge policy agendas of transparency and accountability in policing.

Local policy agenda:

Click to access CampaignZERO+Local+Policy+Agenda.pdf

State policy agenda:

Click to access Campaign+ZERO+State+Policy+Agenda.pdf

As a neurodivergent parent of neurodivergent kids, use of force is of particular interest to me and my family. Police use of force and school-to-prison pipelines disproportionately impact those with disabilities. Use of force policy should be available online to all and should address neurodiversity, mental illness, disability, and deescalation. Use of force is a social contract to be discussed openly.

Help bring transparency and end compliance culture. We are responsible for humanizing the systems we inhabit. Encourage and require transparency from Texas law enforcement agencies. Dallas PD serves as a role model. They’ve taken positive steps toward transparency.

This is not all on police. They need support to handle the big issues of disability, neurodiversity, and mental illness. They need resources, training, and the assistance of other institutions and social structures. They should not have to fill the massive lack of services for our most vulnerable citizens.

With open data and open government, we can work on these issues together. Default to open. Sunlight heals.

Regards,

Ryan Boren
https://ryan.boren.me/
https://twitter.com/rboren
Dripping Springs, TX

Law Enforcement Imagery on Social Media

Here’s a brief survey of how law enforcement in my area of central Texas represent themselves on social media.

Hays County Sheriff

I live in Hays county. The Sheriff’s department portrays itself with a police car in pursuit and a lineup of armed, unhappy white men standing next to an armored vehicle. The us vs. them thin blue lineup.

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https://www.facebook.com/hayscountysheriffsoffice/

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Comal County Sheriff

Comal goes for the vehicle lineup and features a totally unmarked car. These unmarked cars are illegal in some states, though that doesn’t stop police departments from using them. Some citizens pull cops in these cars over and challenge them on the safety and legality of patrolling in unmarked vehicles.

https://www.facebook.com/Comal-County-Sheriffs-Office-262901413722765/

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Austin Police Department

Austin goes for a civic landmark, wildflowers, and smiling, diverse faces.

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https://www.facebook.com/AustinPolice/

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Travis County Sheriff

Blandly innocuous.

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https://www.facebook.com/TravisCOSheriff/

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Round Rock Police

A vehicle lineup including a SWAT van.

https://twitter.com/roundrockScreen Shot 2016-02-03 at 9.17.36 AM.png

https://www.facebook.com/RoundRockPoliceDepartment/police

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Williamson County Sheriff

Unsmiling good ole boys.

https://www.facebook.com/SORecruitment/

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San Marcos Police

Blandly innocuous.

https://www.facebook.com/smcpa/

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San Antonio Police

Diverse, smiling faces.

https://www.facebook.com/SanAntonioPD/

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Georgetown Police

Civic landmark.

https://www.facebook.com/GeorgetownTXPolice/

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Bee Cave Police

A lone cruiser.

https://www.facebook.com/Bee-Cave-Police-Department-406748709376530/

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Lakeway Police

 

The white guy blue line, but with a possible smile or two and no armored vehicles or exposed weapons.

https://www.facebook.com/lakewaypolice/

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Bastrop County Sheriff

Cruiser lineups in non-confrontational poses. I’m glad they didn’t feature their $658,000 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle.

https://www.facebook.com/BastropCountySO/

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