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WeGov

One Messaging App, Internet Optional. And Hold The Censorship, Please.

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 2 2014

meliesthebunny/flickr

Since its launch less than two weeks ago, FireChat has been called a SnapChat and Whisper hybrid or something between SnapChat and Chatroulette. Even more astounding, in Taiwan—where FireChat toppled reigning messaging app Line from its place as number one social networking app in the App Store—thousands of participants in the Sunflower Movement have been encouraged to download the app as a means of communication during protests against a controversial trade agreement with mainland China. Bonus: FireChat is also facilitating unmediated conversations between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese users.

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WeGov

Digital Diplomacy: Russian and Ukrainian Cartographers Find Common Ground On OpenStreetMap

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 2 2014

Screenshot of the contentious bit of land as seen in OpenStreetMap 4/2/14

Russia “officially” annexed Crimea from Ukraine on March 21, but is Crimea really Russian now? That depends, in part, on whose map you look at. Crowdsourced sites, like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap, have struggled alongside geography establishments to come to a consensus, even if that consensus is, for now, to do nothing.

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#PDF14 preview: An Interview with Jake Brewer

BY Sonia Roubini | Wednesday, April 2 2014

The next in our series of #PDF14 speaker previews is Jake Brewer. Jake leads the External Affairs Team at Change.org and describes himself as someone who has spent the past decade being “generally obsessed with solving social problems at scale”, particularly the problem of making citizen’s voices heard in government. Jake will speak on the main stage of #PDF14. Read More

First POST: Corruption, Shmorruption!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 2 2014

The Supreme Court upends the rest of the campaign finance system; Mozilla's embattled CEO makes his case; peer-to-peer mobile bluetooth messaging service FireChat takes off in Taiwan; and much, much more. Read More

Study Examines Policy Implications of Growing New York City Tech Ecosystem

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 1 2014

The NYC Urban Future Lab in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle (NYCEDC)

New York City's technology ecosystem has a broad impact on the city's economy, a new study concludes, with significant policy implications for New York City government priorities. HR&A Advisors conducted the study on behalf of the Association for a Better New York, Citi, Google and the NY Tech Meetup, focusing not just on the influence of jobs in the technology industry and start-up sector, but seeking to define a broader technology economy across sectors and job titles. In that spirit, the report also accounts for non-tech jobs in technology industries and tech occupations in non-tech tech industries. Read More

WeGov

Surveillance in Ethiopia Is Bad Now, But Human Rights Watch Report Warns It Could Get Worse

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 1 2014

A grassroots surveillance network stretches even to remote rural areas (Adam Jones / Flickr)

Last week Human Rights Watch published a 100+ page report on government surveillance in Ethiopia that explains how the authorities use technology from countries like China, Germany and Italy to spy on opposition members, dissidents and journalists, even after they flee the country.

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Beyond Two Ferns: Online Advertising Underpins Healthcare.gov Outreach

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 1 2014

(Moat.com search)

Ahead of the March 31 Healthcare.gov enrollment deadline, much of the attention on the White House's outreach efforts focused on President Obama's appearance on "Between Two Ferns" along with other pushes aimed mainly at young people. But underlying the more splashy promotion efforts has also been a concerted more straightforward digital advertising push, part of the government's $52 million paid media outreach in the last three months. Read More

First POST: Slippery Slopes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 1 2014

Why the CIA is fighting so hard to keep that Senate report on torture secret; OkCupid tells visitors using Firefox to use a different browser; why decentralized mesh networks should matter to dissident political movements; and much, much more. Read More

New York's Citi Bike Program Releases Historical Trip Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 1 2014

(NYU Rudin/ linepointpath.com/Spatial Information Design Lab)

New York City's Citi Bike program released eight months of trip history data on Monday, fulfilling a core demand of the city's civic hacker community since the start of the program last summer, even amidst reports of financial troubles. Read More

WeGov

ClearWater: A Map With a Story to Tell

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, March 31 2014

The ClearWater mapping project shows the environmental damage to the region and also tells the story of the local communities.

Last week, the nonprofit Digital Democracy, launched a new type of online mapping project that ventures into the realm of digital storytelling. The ClearWater map not only shows the scale of the water pollution in the Amazon of northern Ecuador, but also highlights the much more pressing, human side of environmental damage. The newly designed map guides users through stories from the five different indigenous tribes who have been working with ClearWater to build rainwater collection systems to use in lieu of their polluted water sources. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

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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