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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

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

WeGov

How Ukraine's EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online

BY Carola Frediani | Friday, February 28 2014

Protestors in Kiev on Dec. 22, 2013. (credit: grocap/flickr)

After three months of demonstrations and fighting on the streets, ending with the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, there are few doubts that the Internet and social media played major roles in the revolution. While the Ukrainian press coverage was often limited, technology and online platforms not only materially sustained the protesters, but also helped them to reach an international audience. Read More

WeGov

Snowden and the War On Whistleblowers: An Interview With Annie Machon

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, February 11 2014

Annie Machon, a former British intelligence officer turned whistleblower, was known in the 1990s for disclosing illegal wiretapping, among a number of alleged crimes, by the UK Security Service, MI5. She is now again in the spotlight for creating a fund to help Edward Snowden and protect others like him. Machon talks to techPresident about her new initiative, the Courage Foundation to Protect Journalistic Sources, as well as her thoughts on mass surveillance and its erosion of civil liberties. Read More

WeGov

Africa Needs A Cybersecurity Law But AU's Proposal is Flawed, Advocates Say

BY Joel Macharia | Friday, January 31 2014

The AU may soon pass a cybersecurity bill that advocates say will not offer enough protections (EmbassyEquatorialGuinea/flickr)

Over the past 12 years, Africa has experienced a boom in telecommunication use; in fact, between 2000 and 2012, compared to any other region, Africa had the fastest rate of Internet penetration at 3,606.7% over that period. Kenya has the world’s largest mobile money transfer service, MPESA. Evidently, the increasing growth in Internet and mobile use has created a need for legislation that helps deter crime, and that enhances confidence and security in African cyberspace leading to the drafting of the Africa Union Convention on Cybersecurity (AUCC). The convention, however, has met with some resistance from tech and civil society, who claim it does not do enough to protect privacy and freedom of speech. Read More

WeGov

World Bank's New Website Lets Countries Compare Data on Education

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, January 30 2014

The data portal allows users to see what education data is available per country. (credit: screenshot, World Bank)

As our partner Engine Room’s Susannah Vila recently asked in a post, can open data improve primary education in developing countries? She points to a number of grassroots education data initiatives like Check My School in the Philippines and platforms that provide school quality data for parents in Kenya and Tanzania; but the latest education data initiative by the World Bank is aimed at policymakers. Read More

WeGov

Good Faith Efforts To Improve Democracy in Indonesia?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 24 2014

Photo: Flickr/KCIvey

Democracy in Indonesia has two things going for it this year—a new organization called Ayo Vote, which hopes to mobilize young people and get them to the polls, and a government sponsored website where voters can peruse the CVs of their potential representation.

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WeGov

Hadrian's Firewall: UK's New Internet Filter or Censor?

BY Wendy M. Grossman | Wednesday, January 22 2014

The UK Internet is getting its own Hadrian's Wall, an ancient fortification in Northern England (quisnovus/flickr)

"Hadrian's Firewall," the veteran journalist Guy Kewney called it in 2006, the first time I wrote about plans for UK-wide content blocking. The term is much more valid now: just before Christmas British ISPs turned on a system that requires subscribers to actively choose whether they want filtering that will block material in broad categories such as sex, alcohol, violence, and hate speech. In response, the Open Rights Group is gearing up to collect evidence of whether and how the filters work. Of particular concern to ORG is the problem of over-blocking with little redress available to site owners, as well as the dangers inherent in over-confidence in the technology. Read More

WeGov

In Kenya, Bloggers Say New Media Bill Makes Them Vulnerable to Prosecution

BY Neelam Verjee | Tuesday, January 21 2014

The new media law broadens the definition of "journalist" and gives courts authority to impose stiff fines (credit: CPJ)

Kenyan bloggers have sounded a warning that “draconian” media legislation introduced late last year among a storm of controversy could stifle the country’s vibrant online community. Bloggers and writers have expressed concerns about what they called “ambiguous” definitions of the term “journalist” and “journalism” in the Media Council of Kenya Bill 2013, saying that it marked the latest in a string of attempts to crack down on the country’s outspoken virtual community. Read More

WeGov

In Zambia, Power Struggle Between Gov't And Watchdog Escalates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 20 2014

The Zambian government has just about had it with the independent, anonymous news site Zambian Watchdog. Their most recent offense? Publishing a draft constitution never before seen by the public. Mere hours after publication, Zambian authorities stated that they will pursue those responsible for “libelous, defamatory, treasonous and seditious statements and bring them to book.”

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