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WeGov

What Can "Forensic Architects" Tell Us About Drone Strikes and Genocide?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, March 19 2014

A woman works with a forensic architect in recreating the scene of a drone strike in Waziristan (Forensic Architecture)

A woman dressed in a black hijab is highlighted by the glare from a computer screen as she works with forensic architects in digitally recreating her home, the scene of a drone strike in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan where five men, one of them her brother-in-law, were directly hit and killed on Oct. 4, 2010. This is the spot where she had laid out a rug in the courtyard, she explains, and where her guests sat one evening when the missile dove into their circle, leaving a blackened dent in the ground and scattering flesh that later, she and her husband had to pick up from off of the ground so they could bury their dead. Morbidly, the reconstruction of a drone strike is similar – the gathering of flecks of information when nothing else is available: through satellite imagery and video, the length of a building’s shadow, the pattern of shrapnel marks on a wall, and the angle of a photo, can help forensic architects determine where a missile struck and determine how it led to civilian deaths. Read More

WeGov

EU Net Neutrality Vote Disappoints Everyone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 19 2014

McKayla is not impressed with the EU Net Neutrality law (Pete Souza / Wikipedia)

A draft law on net neutrality passed an European Parliament committee Tuesday 30 to 12, with 14 members abstaining. Although the draft law purports to protect net neutrality, it contains vague language that would allow ISPs to charge websites more for higher quality of service, provided it does not degrade other online services. This gives both industry groups and consumer watchdog groups something to complain about.

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WeGov

Who Wants an Uncensored Net in Emerging and Developing Countries?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 19 2014

Turns out, lots of people in emerging and developing countries support a free, uncensored Internet—the majority in 22 of 24 countries in this Pew Research survey, in fact—but support is especially strong among young, well-educated, high-income people who use the Internet.

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First POST: Weird Nerds

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, March 19 2014

The NSA can collect a whole country's phone conversations (not just metadata); Edward Snowden gets his 15 minutes of TED fame; the evolving etiquette of quoting public Tweets; and much, much more. Read More

New State Department Map Looks Inward

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Even as the conflict in Crimea continues to escalate, a simple new interactive map that Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled Tuesday builds on an ongoing State Department efforts to make the scope of its work that makes up around one percent of the federal budget more tangible. Read More

WeGov

PDF Poland-CEE 2014: Democracy is Weak but Technology Can Be A Trigger for Social Change

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Photo by Fundacja ePaństwo

In Eastern Europe, democracy is considered "young" but it is also weak, said several activists from the region during the Personal Democracy Forum Poland-CEE, held in Warsaw, from Mar. 13 to 14. Read More

First POST: Sympathy for the Developer

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Is the lack of hierarchy, or "holocracy," what ails Silicon Valley?; WhatsApp promises to protect user privacy; MySociety gets to tell Parliament exactly what to do; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

The Tweet Is Coming From Inside the House: Rwanda's Twittergate

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 18 2014

Paul Kagame looking pensive (Matthew Jordaan / Wikipedia)

It began with a nasty tweet vilifying journalist Sonia Rolley, who covers Rwanda for Radio France International (RFI), from the account @RichardGoldston. A second journalist, Steve Terrill, stepped in to virtually defend Rolley from @RichardGoldston's malicious attacks. To their surprise, the response to Terrill came from the @PaulKagame, the verified account of the President of Rwanda. The slip was significant enough to earn the moniker “Rwanda's Twittergate.”

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Coming to Grips With Our Not-So-New Surveillance State

BY Matt Stoller | Tuesday, March 18 2014

An FBI agent collects the agency's one-hundred-millionth fingerprint (National Archives and Records Admin.)

In this op-ed, Matt Stoller looks at the history of surveillance in America and argues that the current conversation about the NSA's massive system of dragnet surveillance is missing perspective. We've been living in surveillance state for decades, he writes, one that has long merged commercial and state snooping into individuals' private lives. And we're not powerless to fight it. Read More

Free the Data: The Debate Over APIs and Open Government

BY Alex Howard | Monday, March 17 2014

Photo: Jonathan Gray

As the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) catches on across government agencies, third-party developers, open government advocates, and government techies are debating whether this should become the gold standard for open data, and if so, whether such services should be free. 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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