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What If Writing State Legislation Worked Like Writing Open-Source Code?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 11 2013

The OpenGov Foundation is receiving $200,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help bring a crowdsourcing platform for comments on legislation to state and local legislatures. Read More

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

News Briefs

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Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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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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