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Companies and Internet Activists to Congress: Investigate Potential NSA Surveillance Overreach

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 11 2013

Over 80 advocacy organizations and Internet companies including Free Press and Mozilla have launched what they are calling a global petition to Congress calling for an inquiry into the scope and scale of reported government surveillance and reforms to the Patriot Act, the FISA Amendment Act and the state secrets privilege. Read More

WeGov

The Future of Development Includes a Data Revolution, UN Panel Says

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 10 2013

Grassroots data collection should play an increasing role to meet global development goals, according to a recently released United Nations report. Read More

Elections Officials Could Improve Voting With Better Tools, TurboVote and Reboot Find

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 7 2013

Kate Krontiris explains research results at PDF 2013. Photo: Esty Stein / Personal Democracy Forum

Many American election officials are already trying take make their own attempts to innovate election procedures, but lack the funding and access to technological know-how to effectively implement wider-spread change, according to new research by Reboot and Turbovote. Kate Krontiris, principal at Reboot, and Kathryn Peters, co-founder of TurboVote, presented the findings Friday at the Personal Democracy Forum. Read More

The New York City Comptroller Built a Fiscal Transparency Website, and Now It's Open Source

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, June 6 2013

Comptroller John Liu Photo: Esty Stein / Personal Democracy Media

The source code of New York City's Checkbook NYC platform is now available for other governments to download, modify and reuse, New York City Comptroller John Liu announced during Thursday's Personal Democracy Forum. Read More

Online Voter Registration Bill Passes in Illinois, But Funding's Yet to Come

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, June 5 2013

Illinois lawmakers this past week passed legislation that would establish online voter registration in the state, but then ended their session without voting to allocate funding to implement the system, the Pantagraph reported. Illinois State Board of Elections Rupert Borgsmiller said he and his staff members would now be taking on the challenge of figuring out how they could work on mounting the system without the funding, the newspaper reported. Read More

House Republicans' "Citizen Cosponsor" Lets Anyone Support Any Bill Before the House

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 4 2013

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced today a relaunch of the Citizen Cosponsor project, which allows members of the public to express support for House legislation online. The new version includes all legislation introduced in the House by both Republicans and Democrats and exists on its own domain. Read More

No "Big Yellow Ducks" on Chinese Microblogs for Tiananmen Square Anniversary

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 4 2013

Weibo via @RichardBuangan

Chinese microblogging platform Weibo has banned searches for "big yellow duck" after online activists posted doctored images of the famous Tiananmen Square "Tank Man" photo, replacing the tanks with a row of yellow ducks like the one currently in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor, the Wall Street Journal reported. Read More

WeGov

Protests in Turkey: Lies, Damn Lies, and Social Media

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 3 2013

Mapping tweets around Istanbul. Source: NYU SMaPP

If Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to be believed, ongoing protests in Istanbul are thanks in no small part to lies and exaggerations spreading online. "There is now a menace which is called Twitter," Erdogan said on TV, according to the Guardian. "The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society." While some have suggested that Erdogan has cracked down on Internet access in response, there's no evidence his government has limited connectivity. In fact, initial research suggests that the Turkish protests have spawned a record number of Tweets compared with other protests, spreading not just real-time information about protests, but encouraging others to participate. The uncomfortable truth is that while it's unsurprising to hear a government official denouncing his detractors as misinformed or dishonest, Erdogan isn't entirely wrong. Unverified and in some cases clearly inaccurate information about the protests is spreading fast, and in some cases too rapidly for reliable information to counteract. Read More

EU Needs One Telco Market to Rule Them All, Says EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 30 2013

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes called on the European Parliament to pass legislation to guarantee net neutrality and end mobile roaming costs within the next year as part of an effort to achieve a true European single market and engage EU citizens politically. Read More

A Recent Internet History of Michele Bachmann

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 29 2013

Michele Bachmann on the campaign trail in Iowa. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced her intention not to run for reelection Wednesday in a nearly nine-minute-long video linked to in an email to supporters — a fitting choice for a political figure with a long and complicated history of using, and being used by, the Internet. 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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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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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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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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