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[OP-ED] Singapore Doesn't Always Need Internet Censorship to Silence Critics

BY Phil Howard | Tuesday, March 5 2013

Singapore likes to promote itself as a business-friendly country where the government has a soft touch. But by firing a professor known for criticizing the government's censorship strategies, ruling elites have demonstrated that they still have a firm hand in controlling political conversation. It should make U.S. universities rethink their research partnerships with universities in Singapore, because such relationships actually help launder the regime's reputation. Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] How Obama’s Foreign Policy Can Be Savvier about Tech and Democratization

BY Phil Howard | Tuesday, November 13 2012

600,000 Georgians Rally for Democracy, Sept 2012 (Photo from http://www.democracyingeorgia.org)

In this op-ed, author Philip Howard looks at recent events in Georgia, Hungary, Myanmar and Venezuela, countries that are all in flux--some moving toward greater democracy, some less. He argues that "the transportable strategy for all four countries—countries that have actually become archetypes for how a country can open up or close down—involves encouraging open Internet access and competitive media environments. These countries are now ideal points of intervention, where a deliberate US response on information policy reform would not only solve problems in those countries. It would send the right signals to the strongmen in neighboring countries." 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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