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Parliament in session (credit: Al Bawsala)

The People's "Marsad" for the Tunisian Parliament

Friday, April 18 2014

In Arabic, "marsad" means observatory, but in Tunisia citizens also know it as the name of the interactive website LINK, created by activist Amira Yahyaoui, that tracks and provides updates on all the activities of the Tunisian Parliament, the National Constituent Assembly. The nonpartisan team behind Marsad sits in all of the Assembly's sessions and posts meeting minutes and discussions of bills, as well as a record of who votes for each bill. With no other resource like it being provided by the government, and an inventory now of 519 documents, Marsad has become an essential tool in Tunisia for journalists, activists and even Members of Parliament.

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#PDF14 Preview: An Interview with Jillian York

BY Sonia Roubini | Friday, April 18 2014

Our next speaker preview features Jillian York, the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. Jillian’s work is at the intersection of technology and ... Read More

First POST: Stardust

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, April 18 2014

Edward Snowden tries to turn the tables on Vladimir Putin; David Axelrod will be working against his former colleague Jim Messina in the upcoming British elections; how online activists have damaged Rush Limbaugh's business model; and much, much more. Read More

#PDF14 Preview: An Interview with Ethan Roeder

BY Sonia Roubini | Monday, April 14 2014

This #PDF14 speaker preview features Ethan Roeder, the Executive Director of the New Organizing Institute. Ethan joins PDF with over ten years of experience in political organizing and data, ranging from electoral and ... Read More

First POST: Huffington's Law?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 17 2014

Edward Snowden asks Vladimir Putin about Russian surveillance programs on live TV; why software gurus like Matt Cutts and Dave Winer are alarmed about Internet security; how the DCCC is outpacing the RCCC in online donations; and much, much more. Read More

PDF 2014 | Tumblr Fellowship Application

BY Anthony Russomano | Wednesday, April 16 2014

Personal Democracy Forum 2014 is excited to team up with Tumblr to offer registration fellowships for ten well-qualified, creative social or political technology innovators to attend this year's conference on June 5-6 at NYU Skirball Center in New York City. Fellows will be chosen based on the answers to the following brief questions; fellowship award will cover the full forum registration costs. Selected fellows should be prepared to contribute content to a Tumblr during the conference. Read More

WeGov

Can Crowdfunding Provide Healthcare for the World's Poorest?

BY Federico Guerrini | Monday, April 14 2014

The Watsi Crowdfunding platform allows donations to go straight towards a patient (watsi.org)

Platforms that crowdsource healthcare in developing countries are catching on. But is it a good idea to put the health of others into the hands of the crowd? Read More

First POST: Launches

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 15 2014

It's a day for civic start-up launches and we've got the run down; The Pulitzer committee says the NSA revelations were a "public service"; Ready for Hillary is organizing on campuses; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Bleeding Hearts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 14 2014

Did the NSA exploit the Heartbleed bug instead of fixing it?; one in five Americans online has had their private accounts hacked; UltraViolet gets under Dartmouth's skin with online ads; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: In Transit

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, April 11 2014

Today's Polk Awards ceremony in NYC marks Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras's first visit back to the US since Snowden; Healthcare.gov's chief resigns; the DATA Act heads towards Obama's desk; and much, much more. Read More

#PDF14: An Interview with Tom Tresser

BY Sonia Roubini | Thursday, April 10 2014

The next in our series of #PDF14 speaker previews is Tom Tresser. Tom is an educator, organizer, creativity champion, public defender and fighter of privatization who has been working on civic engagement and grassroots ... Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] Tech, Democracy and USAID

BY Katrin Verclas | Thursday, April 10 2014

Among a myriad of controversies surrounding ZunZuneo is the illicit collection of millions of cell phone numbers (teleyradio)

There has been much debate about the ill-fated "Cuban Twitter" program funded by USAID, the US development agency, and administered by Beltway contractors Creative Associates and MobileAccord. While "Cuban Twitter" was indeed completely mismanaged, USAID is involved in a myriad of other projects that are supporting democracy efforts, citizen oversight over institutions, political party development, and fair elections. Many of these purport to have a technology component as well. So how do they fare? Read More

First POST: WhatsNext?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 10 2014

How India's upcoming national election may foreshadow new tech tactics in the US in 2016; where former President George W. Bush goes for inspiration; former President Bill Clinton half-praises Edward Snowden; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Cockamamie and Catastrophic

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 9 2014

More fallout from the "Cuban Twitter" misfire; Snowden explains how he is not like Assange; the benefits of open data; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

A Global Campaign to Monitor the "Digital Weapons" Trade

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, April 8 2014

A map from the CAUSE website shows where surveillance technology has been sold to countries with spotty human rights records.

In an alarming trend, surveillance technology companies, many of them in western countries with decent human rights records are selling surveillance technology to countries with fairly sinister ones. This problem, which some activists have called the "digital arms trade" is global and complex in nature and is at the heart of a new global campaign launched on April 4 by an international group of leading NGOs. They banded together to create the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports (CAUSE), calling for governments to take action on the international trade in communication surveillance technologies. Read More

First POST: Stunts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 8 2014

USAID pushes back in defense of ZunZeneo; Indian candidate copies from Obama data playbook; cities from Boston to Philly to San Francisco roll with the web; and much much more. Read More

First POST: USAID's Exploding Cigar

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 7 2014

Why ZunZeneo, the "Cuban Twitter" funded by USAID, was such a bad idea; some hard questions about the Comcast-TimeWarner merger; tech's "man problem"; and much, much more. Read More

ACASignups.net's Charles Gaba: Not Nate Silver, Just a Guy with a Spreadsheet

BY Miranda Neubauer | Sunday, April 6 2014

A Michigan web developer named Charles Gaba, an active member of the DailyKos.com Democratic blogging hub, has built the go-to site for data about Obamacare's progress. Now the DailyKos community is thanking him for his efforts, raising $59,000 on ActBlue to compensate him for his volunteer efforts. Read More

WeGov

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: The Problem with ZunZuneo and "Cuban Twitter"

BY Anne Nelson | Monday, April 7 2014

Rock painting of the "Cuban Five" (Photo copyright: Anne Nelson, 2013)

On April 3, the AP broke the story of ZunZuneo, a USAID-funded text messaging service in Cuba designed to circumvent government censorship and build a platform for dissent. Latin America expert and new media scholar Anne Nelson explains why the covert project was such a bad idea. Read More

At 18F, The U.S. Looks to Fail Fast on Government IT Projects Instead of Failing Big

BY Alex Howard | Thursday, April 3 2014

The state of govt IT today: Long lines in Columbia, SC waiting to sign-up for HealthCare.gov

Can a new small office inside the General Services Administration start to revolutionize how the U.S. government does information technology? That's the premise behind 18F. Longtime open government observer Alex Howard offers this in-depth report. Read More

WeGov

What Does Privacy Have to Do with Open Government?

BY Christopher Wilson | Friday, April 4 2014

Activist Aruna Roy raised questions about privacy in open government at last year's OGP Summit (Joe Athialy/flickr)

The answer to that question might not be obvious. Privacy is something we tend to associate with people and personal information, while open government is presumably about making government data and processes transparent for more accountability (see Open Knowledge Foundation’s distinction between Open Data and My Data). But it’s a question that’s getting asked, as privacy and surveillance are increasingly prominent concerns in a post-Snowden world. It’s also an issue that commanded the attention of the open government community at last year’s OGP Summit. Since then, though, there’s been relatively little discussion or progress made to understand the relationship between privacy and open government. As the open government community convenes regional meetings this spring, it’s important to take stock of how open data and data sharing are de-facto drawing boundaries around these norms, and take clear steps towards building privacy into the open government mandate.

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WeGov

Open Data Gives New Lease of Life for Civil Society in the South Caucasus

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Thursday, April 3 2014

Eric Barrett, Executive Director of Jumpstart Georgia at the Central Open Data Hackathon in Warsaw (Onnik James Krikorian)

Two weeks ago, on March 21, 2014, the Georgian chapter of leading international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International called on the country’s citizens to turn off their mobile phones for one hour to protest government surveillance. The action came in the wake of revelations that the previous authorities were intercepting phone calls, text messages, and internet traffic on a systematic basis. The European Union calls the situation that still exists today under a new government, "a jungle of misuse of the possibilities of technology to record almost everything." Yet, despite concerns regarding the amount of data collected on citizens in the former Soviet republic, large online databases of government information might actually be giving the media and civil society in Georgia a new lease of life in fighting corruption and engaging citizens. Read More

#PDF14 preview: An Interview with Jake Brewer

BY Sonia Roubini | Wednesday, April 2 2014

The next in our series of #PDF14 speaker previews is Jake Brewer. Jake leads the External Affairs Team at Change.org and describes himself as someone who has spent the past decade being “generally obsessed with solving social problems at scale”, particularly the problem of making citizen’s voices heard in government. Jake will speak on the main stage of #PDF14. Read More

#PDF14 Breakout Preview: Governance Design for the Future

BY Sonia Roubini | Monday, March 31 2014

In addition to the usual collection of thought provoking main hall keynotes, in-depth breakout panels and social events, this year’s Personal Democracy Forum will feature an afternoon hands-on workshop aimed at giving participants the chance to tackle and work through some of the problems facing governance in the 21st century. Read More

Study Examines Policy Implications of Growing New York City Tech Ecosystem

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 1 2014

The NYC Urban Future Lab in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle (NYCEDC)

New York City's technology ecosystem has a broad impact on the city's economy, a new study concludes, with significant policy implications for New York City government priorities. HR&A Advisors conducted the study on behalf of the Association for a Better New York, Citi, Google and the NY Tech Meetup, focusing not just on the influence of jobs in the technology industry and start-up sector, but seeking to define a broader technology economy across sectors and job titles. In that spirit, the report also accounts for non-tech jobs in technology industries and tech occupations in non-tech tech industries. Read More

Airbnb Tries To Be a Model Corporate Citizen With Shared City

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, March 27 2014

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in 2011 Photo credit: @Kmeron

Yesterday in a post on Medium, Brian Chesky, the CEO of short term rental platform Airbnb announced a new city based company initiative in Portland, Oregon called “Shared City.” The initiative is an an effort by Airbnb to become a model corporate citizen, and also to atone for subverting civic regulations which helped grow the company into the $10 billion goliath it is today. Read More

In Obama Administration’s People-Powered Digital Security Initiative, There’s Lots of Security, Fewer People

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, March 27 2014

Photo: Flickr/www.perspecsys.com

President Obama in 2011 launched an ambitious initiative to rid our digital world of passwords and replace them with new systems with which to identify ourselves. The goal was to make our digital accounts and transactions less hackable and prone to fraud. As Bob Blakley, Citigroup’s director of security innovation put it: “[The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace] is a unique opportunity; it’s the first time a government has offered to accept identity credentials of the citizen’s choice, rather than to impose credentials on the citizens.” But three years into this supposedly citizen-powered process, Kaliya Hamlin, one of the group’s own management council members, and a privacy activist and conference organizer, is charging that the effort is less diverse and inclusive of the citizenry than it should be, and instead is being overtaken by the executives in the digital-security industry. Read More

#PDF14 Speaker Preview: An Interview With An Xiao Mina

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 27 2014

Starting today, we're going to be running short interviews of many of the great speakers coming to Personal Democracy Forum 2014, conducted by our terrific new conference coordinator Sonia Roubini. First up, An Xiao Mina, who first appeared at PDF 2012 and who will be giving a main hall talk. She is also helping us curate a breakout panel focused on how organizers make the move from political memes to movements. Read More

WeGov

New Report: User Engagement Strategies for Open Data

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, March 26 2014

"If you're interested in the way that power works, then data is at the heart of it" says Jon Dovey, a researcher in the UK who is involved in the Open Data Institute's second annual Data as Culture exhibition. The show, which our Jessica McKenzie reported on yesterday, uses art and culture to engage people with open data. It hits on a pressing set of challenges: as more and and more data, both small and big, becomes available, what kind of social impact can we expect it to help generate? If you, as a citizen, can now know much more about public expenditures, does that mean you'll find a way influence those expenditures so that they more accurately reflect the interests of you or your neighbors? Not necessarily. That's why efforts like the ODI's are useful. It's also the theme of a new report that we're publishing today: "User Engagement Strategies for Open Data." The report explores 5 cases from 3 continents with an eye towards defining what works for engaging target groups of people with data about the activities of government and development institutions. Our goal is for these strategies to be informative for technologists, activists and entrepreneurs who are creating products with open data that they wish to see used. You can download the report here. Let us know if you think it's useful.

User Engagement Strategies for Open Data

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First POST: Turning Points

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Edward Snowden offers praise for President Obama's proposed ending of NSA bulk collection of phone records; why tech companies still love surveillance; the latest in the Turkey-Twitter war; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Turkey's Twitter Ban and Why the Country's Still Tweeting

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, March 25 2014

khalid Albaih/flickr

When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided on Thursday to “wipe out” Twitter, banning the microblogging website across the country, he made it more popular than ever. In a few hours after the ban, hashtags like #TurkeyblockedTwitter and #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became trending topics. Turkish netizens managed to post more than half a million tweets in the 10 hours following the ban with an average of about 1.8 million tweets per day, according to Al Jazeera. That figure quickly grew to the point of setting a new record for the country. Read More

PDF14 Theme: Save the Internet | The Internet Saves

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 25 2014

It's time to announce our theme for Personal Democracy Forum 2014. Although last year it was "Think Bigger," and in 2012, it was "The Internet's New Political Power," the Snowden revelations and recent events around the world have made it hard for us to be so aspirational. To be honest, it feels like we are living in both the best of times and the worst of times. So this year's theme may at first glance appear to be a contradiction: "Save the Internet | The Internet Saves." (It works nicely as a .gif!) Read More

WeGov

What Can "Forensic Architects" Tell Us About Drone Strikes and Genocide?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, March 19 2014

A woman works with a forensic architect in recreating the scene of a drone strike in Waziristan (Forensic Architecture)

A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths. Read More

PDM News: Building a Home for the "Internet Public" in NYC

BY Andrew Rasiej and Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 20 2014

Cheryl Contee and Erie Meyer at PDF 2013 (Photo by Esty Stein)

For the last nine months, we at Personal Democracy Media have been working on an exciting new project and big idea. It's time to pull back the curtain and tell you about it. We want to build a year-round physical community center, here in New York City, that will be a home for our community and all the people and organizations that we like to say are members of the “Internet public” (per Dave Parry). That is, we want to create a place where the same dynamic and diverse community that comes to Personal Democracy Forum every year--the doers and dreamers, the political activists and the civic hacktivists, public officials, public-minded entrepreneurs, the movement makers and shakers--can work and network together around common interests and solve problems. You can read more about it in our recently submitted Knight News Challenge proposal to help strengthen the open Internet. Read More

Coming to Grips With Our Not-So-New Surveillance State

BY Matt Stoller | Tuesday, March 18 2014

An FBI agent collects the agency's one-hundred-millionth fingerprint (National Archives and Records Admin.)

In this op-ed, Matt Stoller looks at the history of surveillance in America and argues that the current conversation about the NSA's massive system of dragnet surveillance is missing perspective. We've been living in surveillance state for decades, he writes, one that has long merged commercial and state snooping into individuals' private lives. And we're not powerless to fight it. Read More

Free the Data: The Debate Over APIs and Open Government

BY Alex Howard | Monday, March 17 2014

Photo: Jonathan Gray

As the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) catches on across government agencies, third-party developers, open government advocates, and government techies are debating whether this should become the gold standard for open data, and if so, whether such services should be free. Read More

WeGov

The Fight for Democracy in Ukraine: A Conversation with Center UA's Svitlana Zalischuk

BY Micah L. Sifry | Sunday, March 16 2014

Svitlana Zalischuk speaking at PDF PL-CEE 2014, Warsaw (Photo: Onnik James Krikorian)

One of the highlights of this year's Personal Democracy Forum Poland-Central/Eastern Europe (PDF-PLCEE) conference last Thursday and Friday in Warsaw was the talk by Szitlana Zalischuk, the founder of Ukraine's Center UA civic group. "Democracy is weak," she warned the 300-plus attendees, who had come from 25 countries around the world to learn from each other about the potential of technology to enable positive social change. The "EuroMaidan" movement may have forced Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych out of office, but it was far from clear that non-violent civic activism was going to win the day in the face of an invasion of Crimea and more not-so-veiled threats of force from Russia. Like many other PDF-PLCEE attendees from the region, Zalischuk was both electrified by the victory of the EuroMaidan protest movement and deeply worried about the future. On Saturday, the day after PDF-PLCEE ended, we sat down together during an open data hackathon held in a conference room in Warsaw's new soccer stadium. Our interview, which took place in three parts, is embedded below. Read More

Public Good Software Lands Half A Million In Seed Funding to Bring Data-Driven Campaigning to NonProfits [UPDATED]

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, March 11 2014

A group of former Obama techies want to port their campaign and entrepreneurial experiences to the world of non-profits, and help them to operate better. Read More

WeGov

The Largest Loomio Project Yet

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, March 13 2014

Loomio goes to Greece (credit: screenshot of www.eda.org)

In many ways, open source is like a sperm bank: you never know what your offspring will look like or where they will end up unless they take the initiative to reach out. Benjamin Knight, a founder of the open source group decision-making platform known as Loomio, had his own Vince Vaughn "Delivery Man" moment when he got a call from Giorgio Mariotti from the Pirate Party of Hellas. Mariotti says he had used Loomio's open source to create 461 Loomio groups for each of the municipal to national levels of government in his country. Mariotti wanted to kickstart a process of direct democracy and needed to know: could Loomio's servers handle this many groups? Knight reassured Mariotti it could but that it was certainly the largest Loomio project to date. Read More

Chat Fights Back: XMPP Aims for Ubiquitous Encryption

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, March 13 2014

Chat is a cornerstone of online communication. And it has been since the days when the allure of AOL chatrooms could justify a household's purchase of a second phone line (i.e. the mid to late '90s). But like any other online communication technology, the potential for chats to be eavesdropped, by hackers or governments, has kept pace with the growth of bandwidth. After Snowden, no one can assume otherwise. There are countermeasures available; Tor for instance is planning its own hyper secure messaging service. But its use will be confined to the technically super literate. The vast majority of chats will remain as vulnerable as ever. Read More

WeGov

Using Data and Statistics to Bring Down Dictators

BY Federico Guerrini | Monday, March 10 2014

War Graves in Kosovo (credit: NH53/flickr)

On September 20, 2013, in Guatemala, the former director of the National Police of Guatemala, Col. Héctor Bol de la Cruz, and his subordinate Jorge Alberto Gómez López were convicted for the abduction and presumed murder of student and labor leader Edgar Fernando García, who disappeared in 1984, during the conflict that devastated the South American country between 1960 and 1996. Three years earlier, two lower ranking officers were also convicted for the crime. The convictions were made possible thanks to the work of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that uses statistical analysis to support the cause of human rights. Read More

What We Really (Should) Talk About When We Talk About Big Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, March 7 2014

Corporations don't need census data to guess your race & use it against you (Wikipedia)

Discrimination. Redlining. Racial profiling. These practices predate the Internet, and yet there is every indication that technology can enable infringements on civil rights to an even greater extent than before. Last week, in an effort to put civil rights at the forefront of the ongoing debate about digital privacy and security, a coalition of civil and human rights organizations jointly released “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data,” five tenets to guide policy-making.

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WeGov

Snowden EU Testimony Renews Calls to Grant Asylum

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, March 7 2014

"Blame the Game" campaign screenshot

On Monday, Edward Snowden will participate in his first live discussion before an audience as part of SXSW Interactive through a video conference with his legal advisor Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, as well as digital privacy expert Christopher Soghoian. (Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo from Kansas, also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has asked SXSW to cancel the webcast, The Hill reported). Snowden's discussion will come amidst renewed calls in Europe to grant him asylum. Read More

Minnesota Announces Civic Tech Legislation

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, March 7 2014

Can civic innovation be managed statewide? A bill in Minnesota is betting yes. It is looking to grab some of the state's $1.2 billion surplus to fund open data, open government, and civic technology. Openminnesota.org, a site set up to promote and explain the bill, says the following: "Open Minnesota will build an engine for public open data use, civic technology creation engaging start-up companies and technology volunteers, and help hundreds more government units get cost-effectively connected to the best global open government lessons for local adaptation." Read More

Civic Crowdfunding Looks to Bigger Projects with Phased Campaigns

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, March 5 2014

Civic crowdfunding dreamed big but started small. The platform Neighbor.ly grabbed attention for a 2012 campaign to help fund a multi-million dollar rail car in Kansas City, but only raised $3,775 of its $10 million goal. The early campaigns of both Neighbor.ly and Citizinvestor that were actually successful reached for modest goals, usually less than $15,000. A look at the campaign pages of either platform today shows larger projects, in the tens or hundreds of thousands, creeping in as well. Civic crowdfunding is growing. To facilitate and attract more large projects Citizinvestor this week announced a plan to crowdfund projects in phases. Read More

WeGov

Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. Read More

Open Internet and Open Democracy at PDF Poland-CEE 2014

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, March 3 2014

PDF Poland-CEE will take place in Warsaw next March 13-14

From March 13 to 14, activists, public servants, technologists, political scientists and journalists will gather in Warsaw, Poland to discuss and exchange views on the future of Central and Eastern Europe at Personal Democracy Forum Poland-CEE. The two-day event will be hosted at the Copernicus Science Centre, an interactive science museum that is one of the most advanced and largest of its kind in Europe. The second edition of PDF Poland-CEE (see here for the program) will delve into the question of how civic participation will evolve in the region. A number of key players will discuss how NGOs, governments and citizens can collaborate through the use of technology and innovation. And after the recent uprisings in Ukraine, there is an even greater urgency in addressing these questions. Read More

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Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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