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First POST: Sympathy for the Developer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Is the lack of hierarchy, or "holocracy," what ails Silicon Valley?; WhatsApp promises to protect user privacy; MySociety gets to tell Parliament exactly what to do; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Taking Over

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 26 2013

How privacy concerns will fit into the next populist wave in US politics; Glenn Greenwald and Paul Carr spar; why the number of lobbyists in Washington is probably double what you think; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: NewCo News

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 18 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: More details on Pierre Omidyar and Glenn Greenwald's still unnamed NewCo investigative journalism site; one bankrupt Rhode Island town is trying crowdfunding for its parks; and the best reading from last week's 'book surge' break that you might have missed. Read More

WeGov

Australia Cleans Up Data.Gov.Au, Loses More Than Half of Its 1,200 Datasets

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 14 2013

Every dataset deserves a good clean up (Flickr/Chiot's Run)

Since Australia switched their open data website to an open source platform in July, the number of datasets has dropped from 1200 to 500. Did they get lost in the move? No, it just turns out that many of them were pure junk, links to webpages that no longer existed or led to irrelevant pages.

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WeGov

Australians Save Shuttered Climate Council By Crowdfunding AUD $800K in Three Days

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 30 2013

Australia gets hotter and drier (ed 37 ~~ / Flickr)

Australian citizens were outraged after Australia's new prime minister Tony Abbot shuttered the government-funded Climate Commission, which conducts independent studies on the effects of climate change. Instead of merely expressing their anger and disappointment, however, citizens have put their money where their mouths are, funding the “new” nonprofit organization Climate Council in less than a week through an impressive crowdfunding effort.

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First POST: Drip, Drip

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 11 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The NSA releases new documents showing it violates its own privacy rules on a daily basis; cryptoparties are springing up again in Germany; gun control supporters are recalled in Colorado; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

How Governments Should Release Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 20 2013

When releasing data, governments should know that format matters almost as much as content. If it is clean, well organized, complete and in a machine-readable format, even a nonprogrammer can make good use of it. A recent post from Craig Thomler, who blogs about eGovernment and Gov 2.0 in Australia, illustrates this point.

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WeGov

"Accidental" Blocking of Australian Websites Raises Concerns About Government Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 22 2013

Sydney Opera House (Anthony Winning)

An Australian government agency admitted last week to unintentionally blocking more than 1,200 perfectly legal websites in the process of shutting down one allegedly fraudulent site. In their defense, they pointed out that they have successfully blocked a number of websites in the past nine months without such digital collateral. This assertion came as no consolation to Australian netizens concerned about Internet censorship, especially opaque and hazily legal censorship.

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WeGov

Open Science Breaks Down International Barriers for Researchers

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 18 2013

The Research Data Alliance website (screengrab).

Two decades ago, scientists at CERN in Switzerland were among the earliest non-military users of the World Wide Web, posting the first photo to what had been a purely text-based medium, among other innovations.  This week, an international group from the scientific community aims to set new precedents for the future of the Internet, with the launch of a major open data initiative for research and knowledge. 

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WeGov

Australian Police Turn to Twitter #Mythbusting During Floods

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 7 2013

A January 28 tweet from @QPSMedia

During natural disasters, social media can be an invaluable source of information – and misinformation.  The days leading up to Hurricane Sandy brought a digital flood of faked and misattributed photos of the storm to social networks. In times of crisis, false reports are easily circulated throughout a panicked population.  Yet the rapid proliferation of these rumors can be countered just as quickly on social networks. During Australia's flood-prone summer, law enforcement officials have been using a simple Twitter solution to curb the spread of disaster rumors. Read More

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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