Ironic: WH Boasts of Hosting 'Hackathon' Amid Reports of Administration Snooping

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | June 6, 2013 | 3:46 PM EDT

On the 64th anniversary of Orwell's "1984," amid reports of the DOJ tracking AP phone records and the NSA tracking Verizon customer call logs, the White House is boasting of hosting its second "Hackathon."

A White House blog post about "Civic Hacking at the White House: We the People, By the People" says:

"This past Saturday, more than 11,000 civic activists, technology experts, and entrepreneurs around the country came together for the National Day of Civic Hacking. Civic activists, technology experts, and entrepreneurs in 83 cities developed software to help others in their own neighborhoods and across the country. More than twenty federal agencies took part by submitting challenges for participants to tackle and opening up datasets for them to use."

It goes on to describe how the White House "hackathon" hackers targeted the API:

"Here at the White House, we celebrated the day by welcoming more than 30 developers and designers to our second hackathon, setting them loose on the new API for We the People, the White House petitions platform. For nine hours participants sat side-by-side with White House staff, techies and non-techies alike, and built new tools for finding, sharing, and analyzing We the People petitions. Several of the participants were alumni of the first White House hackathon in February, who returned to share their knowledge of the We the People API, and their code, with their fellow hackers."

Now, truth be told, this type of "hacking" is probably far more innocuous than it sounds in light of recent events - and "API" stands for Application-Programming Interface, not Associated Press International.

But, the irony - in the truest misuse of the word to mean "poignant coincidental events," instead of "unexpected outcome" - is just too rich to ignore.

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