Nancy Scola

Nancy Scola is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Science Progress, Politics Magazine, AlterNet, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Recent Articles

Internet Anti-Americanism.

Authorities in Iran have reportedly decided to ban the internal use of Gmail, seemingly inspired by the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and supposedly in favor of an e-mail service rooted within Iran, not Mountain View, California -- though presumably that home-grown IranMail is going to come complete with a "Surveille This" widget. This isn't something you want to be right about, but I've been squawking recently about the rising time of anti-Internet rhetoric that is at its core anti- American Internet rhetoric, and how that's something that those of us who love the Internet should perpare ourselves to deal with. We saw it with China, when they responded to a possible Google pullout by complaining that the World Wide Web is hopelessly flooded with American content, and we see it again and again in Cuba, where the Castro regime argues that the content on the Web is so skewed toward American interests that they just don't want it for their people. From the perspective of...

Voting Rights of the Once-Incarcerated.

It was encouraging to see the Domestic Policy Council's Heather Higginbottom say in a White House chat last week that the Obama administration is supportive of a federal law restoring ex-felons' voting rights. The messy patchwork of laws we currently have for the once-incarcerated is one of the least appealing aspects of the modern American practice of democracy. It doesn't have to be this way. Elections are, of course, largely state affairs in the U.S., by history and by the fact that people would freak if we threatened that. But the way that the ex-felons are treated on Election Day isn't right -- all the more so because it varies so wildly from state to state. Take Maine. There, you can vote from your prison cell . But if you sold the same amount of marijuana in Florida, you'll most likely never vote again. Even after you've formally repaid what society has said is the debt incurred by your crime. According to the Sentencing Project, 35 states prohibit the once-incarcerated from...

On Google and NSA.

What upset my stomach this morning wasn't so much the news that Google had partnered with the National Security Administration as it was that Google seems to have felt threatened enough by cyberattacks to do it. Google cherishes its reputation as one of the "good guys." The company counts how the public feels about it and its mission as one of the best things going for it. And the NSA's public reputation ... You can make the case that among the damaging things caused by recent wiretapping excesses is the fact that a company like Google really has to think seven or eight times before allowing its information caches to be opened up to the federal government. The misuse of the U.S.' digital security capabilities weakened one of the defenses that is much needed on the cybersecurity front. Of course, Google has to be very, very, very careful about protecting its users' data here. Its relationship with NSA has to be structured to limit things to the minimum of what is needed to track the...

Obama's Internet Plan: Also Non-Bolshevik.

In a more perfect world, Barack Obama 's command of the nuances of tech policy would rival his grasp of health-care policy. But this world ain't perfect, and we're stuck with a president who strongly backs net neutrality principles but is occasionally clumsy on the details. We can wish he didn't do that, for the very reason that it gives cover to commentary like this from Digital Society -- a nonprofit affiliated with companies like Verizon, Microsoft, and AT&T -- that "pars[es]" Obama's voice of confidence in favor of neutrality regulation during his YouTube Q&A on Monday. Obama admittedly gave them something to sink their teeth into when he tried to put some political meat on the dry bones of neutrality policy: We’re getting pushback, obviously, from some of the bigger carriers who would like to be able to charge more fees and extract more money from wealthier customers. Where Obama slightly mis-struck here is that "bigger carriers," when you think about it, already "extract...

James Rucker's Making Sense.

Color of Change's James Rucker has an important post on his efforts thus far to make sense of the Congressional Black Caucus' entrenched opposition to net neutrality. The arguments Rucker has been hearing on his visits to Capitol Hill repeat themselves, running along the lines that if telecom companies aren't able to use a portion of the Internet to sell the custom online services they want to, then where will the money come from to wire underserved communities? A sensible fellow, Rucker asks again for concrete evidence. What are congressional offices using to back this economic argument that telecom providers might start using their profits to provide services to communities of color? He hasn't seen that evidence yet. He's going to keep looking. Rucker's working with the proper construction here. Unless those assertions can be grounded, the sensible assumption is that the arguments made by the flotilla of invariably smart lawyers employed by the telecom companies are being accepted,...

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