Obama Encourages Citizens to “Civic Hack”

While the Obama administration has not always been on good terms with hackers, clashing with groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, it has maintained a strong verbal push to promote technology and innovation in the U.S.  And while some would contend its policies are in fact stifling innovation, the White House is having none of that, announcing its June 1-2, 2013 initiative dubbed the “National Day of Civic Hacking“.

The White House writes on its blog:

National Day of Civic Hacking is a call to action for anyone who wants to make a positive impact on their town, city, and country.  A coalition of leading organizations, companies, and government agencies have banded together to issue this challenge with the goal of promoting transparency, participation, and collaboration among governments, startups, and citizens. These partners will support Civic Hacking Day by hosting activities across the country that invite anyone to become part of the civic hacker community—whether you’re a newbie or an expert—and by  connecting people in person or online during the weekend celebration.

The event is taking place in conjunction with Random Hacks of Kindness and Code for America’s Brigade meetings and is being modeled after the Innovation Endeavors’ Super Happy Block Party.  A number of Federal agencies, including NASA, the Census Bureau, and the Department of Labor, are participating by offering specific challenges for hackers to work during the event.

This is an opportunity for citizens in every town and city across the Nation to roll up their sleeves, get involved, and work together to improve our society by cultivating an ecosystem for innovation and change.  Activities are already being planned in Augusta, GA; Alexandria, VA; Asheville, NC; Austin, TX; Bend, OR; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Grand Rapids, MI; Honolulu, HI; Lexington, KY; Oakland, CA; Palo Alto, CA; Portland, ME; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Tucson, AZ.

National Day of Civic Hacking

Now remember, this is the same administration that approved questionable charges to send a security researcher to prison for five years for exposing a gaping hole, which essentially left an open door to AT&T, Inc. (TiPad customers’ records.  Such punishments don’t necessarily jive with the White House’s assertion that hackers have “long worked to improve our country and the world.”

However, it’s nice to see the White House recognizing the value of the hacking community.  It should be interesting to see what kind of events get cooked up for June 1.

National Day of Civic Hacking
Events are occurring across the county. [Image Source: Hack for Change]

Just remember, “civic hacking” may earn you praise, but disclosure-type hacking often earns you condemnation.  Even the most responsible private-disclosures often lead to repercussions.  As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.  Of course such hacking has done a great job of helping protect everyone’s security online by exposing and forcing companies to fix flaws that otherwise could have led to dangerous leaks of personal information.  But to our hacker readers: tread softly and carry a big proxy.

To sign up for an event or volunteer to host one, visit hackforchange.org.

Sources: The White House, Hack For Change


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