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New Tool Aims to Counter Congressional Gridlock with Virtual Support

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Ted Henderson, a former congressional staffer and the founder of the mobile app Capitol Bells, was frustrated by the legislative gridlock on issues such as climate change and gun control. Read More

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

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

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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