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WeGov

The Simplest Step Ethiopians Can Take to Protect Themselves From Excessive Gov't Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 20 2014

The Ethiopian government has at their disposal a formidable collection of surveillance technologies, and can intrusively monitor writers and activists at home and abroad. In late April the government arrested six independent bloggers and a journalist. More than 50 days later they are still being held in custody, and yet no formal charges have been filed. In March Human Rights Watch published a lengthy and detailed report warning that surveillance in Ethiopia could get even worse if the government gains the human capacity necessary to fully leverage the available technologies.

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WeGov

In Nigeria, Holding Gov't Accountable On the Radio

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 10 2014

Like this, but government officials are the ones in the hot seat (Flickr/Jena Fuller)

In Nigeria, a reality radio program provides a forum for tackling issues of public or private impunity. Hosted by Ordinary Ahmed Isah, the Brekete Family Radio program has a listener base of an estimated 20 million people. Their motto is to be “the voice of the voiceless.” Writing on the Open Society Foundations blog (Brekete Family Radio is an Open Society partner), Udo Jude Ilo calls it the “last resort of the common man.”

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WeGov

Weekly Readings: Out-Innovated

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, June 2 2014

China goes all out to block Google; online outrage against violence against women in both China and India; Russia's newfound allergy to digital currency; is Africa out-innovating Silicon Valley?; and much more. Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: Off-Grid

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, April 28 2014

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

WeGov

Surveillance in Ethiopia Is Bad Now, But Human Rights Watch Report Warns It Could Get Worse

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 1 2014

A grassroots surveillance network stretches even to remote rural areas (Adam Jones / Flickr)

Last week Human Rights Watch published a 100+ page report on government surveillance in Ethiopia that explains how the authorities use technology from countries like China, Germany and Italy to spy on opposition members, dissidents and journalists, even after they flee the country.

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WeGov

Capture the Ocean: Paving the Way for a "Lean Data" Future

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, March 28 2014

Moonjazz / Flickr

“One of the things I would say to a large company,” began one comment from Edward Snowden at SXSW earlier this month, “is not that you can’t collect any data; it is that you should only collect the data and hold it for as long as necessary for the operation of the business.” A new research project called Capture the Ocean hopes to make business models like the one described by Snowden possible by identifying, explaining and comparing global laws regulating data collection, use and retention.

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WeGov

The Tweet Is Coming From Inside the House: Rwanda's Twittergate

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Paul Kagame looking pensive (Matthew Jordaan / Wikipedia)

It began with a nasty tweet vilifying journalist Sonia Rolley, who covers Rwanda for Radio France International (RFI), from the account @RichardGoldston. A second journalist, Steve Terrill, stepped in to virtually defend Rolley from @RichardGoldston's malicious attacks. To their surprise, the response to Terrill came from the @PaulKagame, the verified account of the President of Rwanda. The slip was significant enough to earn the moniker “Rwanda's Twittergate.”

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WeGov

Surveillance in the Overlooked Corners of Africa

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 4 2014

Screenshot of Appelbaum and Marques

In the video below, filmed during the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2013, Jacob Appelbaum breaks it to Rafael Marques, an Angolan investigative journalist and anti-corruption activist, that his laptop is being surveilled through a crude backdoor in spite of the fact that he is using Tor. He opens up a file where they can see all the images that have been stored and are waiting to be collected by the hackers. Appelbaum tells an understandably concerned Marques: “Every computer that's targeted is compromisable,”

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News Briefs

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In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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thursday >

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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