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German Lawmakers Have a New Platform For Their Policies — SimCity

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 11 2013

(Facebook/SimCity)

Three German lawmakers may differ when it comes to policy positions, but all of them enjoy computer games. In the run-up to the German national election in September, Electronic Arts has arranged for three German members of the Bundestag to play the German edition of SimCity and will feature their progress online over four weeks. Read More

Looking to Tech for Help With Life After the Voting Rights Act

BY Nick Judd and Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, July 10 2013

(Jesse Kriss/Speakerdeck)

With a key section of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court, some states, cities and counties might have new election laws and rapid voting policy changes to look forward to. These are exactly the kind of things that created some of the confusion that beleaguered the 2012 election. In 2012, though, activists were able to clear the fog for some voters by getting them the information they needed online and through SMS. Now, they're looking to the tech tools of last year as they plan for the future. Read More

What Electronic Surveillance Would Mean in James Comey's FBI

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 9 2013

At his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing today, nominee for director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey said that the collection of metadata is an important tool for counterterrorism efforts, but suggested that a different standard applied to the content of communications. The secret court that authorizes counterterorrism surveillance, he said, is "anything but a rubber stamp." Read More

Knight Moves Beyond Experimentation with Open Gov News Challenge Winners

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 25 2013

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to eight Open Government projects has part of the Knight News Challenge, including tools that would make courts more accessible and the procurement process more user friendly. Six additional projects received funding through the Knight Prototype Fund, which awards up to $50,000 for projects to go from an idea to a demo stage. Read More

Online Petitioners Call for White House to "Pardon" Edward Snowden

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 24 2013

A We the People petition to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has reached the 100,000 signature threshold needed for a White House response, but for at least one group of Snowden supporters that petition might be one step too far at the moment. "We don't think he should be charged," said Zaid Jilani, an investigative blogger and campaigner for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has been raising money for a possible Snowden legal defense fund. "You can't pardon anyone until they've been convicted. Maybe that petition is a little premature." Read More

Internet Policy Experts Call for More Oversight of Surveillance

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 21 2013

A group of Internet policy and privacy experts urged Congress to take a more active role in ensuring oversight and transparency of government surveillance efforts as they explored the mechanics of those programs, how they aid law enforcement and how they impact the privacy of every-day Americans at a panel geared towards Congressional staff. Read More

Lofgren and Wyden introduce "Aaron's Law"

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, June 20 2013

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced in a Wired piece Thursday that they are introducing House and Senate legislation called Aaron's Law to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - the law under which late Internet activist Aaron Swartz faced multiple felony charges and the possibility of up to 35 years in prison for downloading around 5 million JSTOR articles without authorization. Read More

In Germany, Obama Encounters a Tough Crowd for Defense of Surveillance

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, June 19 2013

(Digitale Gesellschaft/Flickr)

President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel found themselves in a verbal minefield when it came to an ongoing controversy over U.S. National Security Agency surveillance, which loomed large over Obama's visit to Germany Tuesday and Wednesday. Read More

New York State Joins GitHub to Get Feedback on Open Data Policy

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 14 2013

New York is the first state to publish an initial draft of its open data guidelines on GitHub to seek feedback from the public, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a press release Thursday. Read More

Despite Software Problems, Civic Hackers are Pedaling Bike Share Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, June 13 2013

(NYCDOT/Flickr)

Reporters are shoaling around the news that New York City's new bike sharing system, Citi Bike, is benighted with problems stemming from its high-tech software. But that's not putting the brakes on plans to explore what programmers might do with data generated by the system by hosting a Citi Bike Civic Hack Night later this month. 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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