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WeGov

Right2Water Citizens’ Initiative Gets Unsatisfactory Response: A Failure For Participation in the EU?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, March 26 2014

The Right2Water campaigners [Flickr: gruenebayern (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)]

"Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!" This is not a sign that could be seen in a street protest, but the title of a petition that recently gathered 1.6 million online signatures among European citizens and was presented to the European Commission earlier this year. This was also the first official effort of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a petition instrument created by the EU in order to give citizens a way to push requests and issues that they care about to the attention of the EU institutions. But, as the European Commission issued an official response that proved non-committal and unsatisfactory to the committee, the issue also seem to now extend to the effectiveness of the ECI itself. Read More

WeGov

Canadian Sex Workers Offered Support & Counseling Via Text Message

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Sex work isn't what it used to be (Wikipedia)

Sex workers are a lot more likely to connect with clients from behind a computer screen than through an open car window these days. Nearly half of the pimps surveyed in a recent Urban Institute study of the underground commercial sex economy reported using online advertisements or classifieds to reach clients. One consequence of this shift is that outreach workers have had to change tactics. In a pilot program called “Project Backpage” activists are scraping phone numbers in “adult” ads on a popular online classifieds site and sending out text messages with offers of support and counseling.

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WeGov

New Report: User Engagement Strategies for Open Data

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, March 26 2014

"If you're interested in the way that power works, then data is at the heart of it" says Jon Dovey, a researcher in the UK who is involved in the Open Data Institute's second annual Data as Culture exhibition. The show, which our Jessica McKenzie reported on yesterday, uses art and culture to engage people with open data. It hits on a pressing set of challenges: as more and and more data, both small and big, becomes available, what kind of social impact can we expect it to help generate? If you, as a citizen, can now know much more about public expenditures, does that mean you'll find a way influence those expenditures so that they more accurately reflect the interests of you or your neighbors? Not necessarily. That's why efforts like the ODI's are useful. It's also the theme of a new report that we're publishing today: "User Engagement Strategies for Open Data." The report explores 5 cases from 3 continents with an eye towards defining what works for engaging target groups of people with data about the activities of government and development institutions. Our goal is for these strategies to be informative for technologists, activists and entrepreneurs who are creating products with open data that they wish to see used. You can download the report here. Let us know if you think it's useful.

User Engagement Strategies for Open Data

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WeGov

El Marco Civil: An Internet Success Story

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Brazil--a new world leader of net neutrality and an open and free Internet? (Wikipedia)

Yesterday evening the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved the Marco Civil bill, which contains significant protections for net neutrality, user privacy and security, and freedom of expression. The bill is the product of years of work, including a public consultation period in 2009 and 2010. The day of the vote many Brazilians took part in a “compartilhaço” or “sharing storm” on social media, tagging messages of support for the bill #EuQueroMarcoCivil (#IWantMarcoCivil), which became a worldwide trending topic March 25, the day of the vote.

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WeGov

German Conservatives Open to Supporting WePromise Digital Rights Campaign

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Recently, the European Parliament as expected rejected an amendment backed by Green Party members that could have paved the way to Edward Snowden gaining asylum in Europe. But there appears to be more consensus when it comes to a wider range of technology policy issues among European lawmakers. European MEPs broadly backed a data protection reform package and a resolution calling for an end to the type of mass surveillance that Snowden revealed through his disclosures. Read More

First POST: Turning Points

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Edward Snowden offers praise for President Obama's proposed ending of NSA bulk collection of phone records; why tech companies still love surveillance; the latest in the Turkey-Twitter war; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Tracking World Leaders' Fluctuating Popularity With Big Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 25 2014

Screenshot of GDELT World Leaders Index, March 25, 2014

Every morning, if you so choose, you can wake up to a global world leaders popularity report delivered straight to your inbox, courtesy of the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT). The GDELT World Leaders Index ranks world leaders based on the tone (positive or negative) of global news coverage.

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PDF14 Theme: Save the Internet | The Internet Saves

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 25 2014

It's time to announce our theme for Personal Democracy Forum 2014. Although last year it was "Think Bigger," and in 2012, it was "The Internet's New Political Power," the Snowden revelations and recent events around the world have made it hard for us to be so aspirational. To be honest, it feels like we are living in both the best of times and the worst of times. So this year's theme may at first glance appear to be a contradiction: "Save the Internet | The Internet Saves." (It works nicely as a .gif!) Read More

LinkedIn Joins Global Network Initiative

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 25 2014

Linkedin announced on Monday in a press release that it has officially joined the Global Network Initiative. The company is joining Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook as members of the association of technology companies, human rights organizations, academics and investor groups that seek to find common ground for how to deal with governments on issues such as online freedom of expression and data privacy. Read More

WeGov

Turkey's Twitter Ban and Why the Country's Still Tweeting

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, March 25 2014

khalid Albaih/flickr

When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided on Thursday to “wipe out” Twitter, banning the microblogging website across the country, he made it more popular than ever. In a few hours after the ban, hashtags like #TurkeyblockedTwitter and #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became trending topics. Turkish netizens managed to post more than half a million tweets in the 10 hours following the ban with an average of about 1.8 million tweets per day, according to Al Jazeera. That figure quickly grew to the point of setting a new record for the country. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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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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