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WeGov

In Russia, a Proposal to Store User Data on Russian Soil Will "Throttle Expression," Activists Say

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, April 17 2014

Facebook's first built-from-scratch data center. The company recently opened one In Sweden (Photo: Intel Free Press/Flickr)

Alexey Lisovenko, a member of the Moscow City Council, who has recently proposed that all personal data of Russians from all social media sites should be housed in servers located on Russian soil. He says it is to protect the Russian people from NSA spying but activists say the move would only allow Russia to better control online expression. 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

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

WeGov

YanukovychLeaks.org Exposes a Corrupt and Violent Regime

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, March 5 2014

Picture courtesy of Fundacja ePaństwo

Thousands of documents float and sink in a remote reservoir not far from a grand 345-acre estate contained within a sprawling wrought iron fence. As evocative as it may seem, this not the beginning of a spy thriller, but of Yanukovych Leaks, an online portal where the leaks have been uploaded by investigative journalists who say the extravagance detailed in those papers may prove ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's depth of corruption. Read More

Open Internet and Open Democracy at PDF Poland-CEE 2014

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, March 3 2014

PDF Poland-CEE will take place in Warsaw next March 13-14

From March 13 to 14, activists, public servants, technologists, political scientists and journalists will gather in Warsaw, Poland to discuss and exchange views on the future of Central and Eastern Europe at Personal Democracy Forum Poland-CEE. The two-day event will be hosted at the Copernicus Science Centre, an interactive science museum that is one of the most advanced and largest of its kind in Europe. The second edition of PDF Poland-CEE (see here for the program) will delve into the question of how civic participation will evolve in the region. A number of key players will discuss how NGOs, governments and citizens can collaborate through the use of technology and innovation. And after the recent uprisings in Ukraine, there is an even greater urgency in addressing these questions. Read More

WeGov

EU's First Anti-Corruption Report: What Role for Whistleblowers and Civil Society?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, February 5 2014

Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malström (credit: European Parliament on Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There are no corruption-free zones in Europe. The bottom line of the first EU Anti-corruption report might be somewhat predictable, but it also represents a first and significant (albeit small) step to launch a debate inside the EU institutions. Read More

WeGov

Revolution in Ukraine Has Been Live Streamed For Two Months. When Will the West Start to Care?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, January 20 2014

Protest in Kiev last Sunday (photo by @mikekomar)

Apparently, nobody likes a peaceful revolution. Nine years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine citizens are again voicing their opposition to how the government is managing the state. But Western media and politics do not seem to care. Read More

WeGov

Amidst General Distrust of Politics, the Socialist Party of Catalonia Takes Babysteps Towards Transparency

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, January 15 2014

A screenshot of the homepage of the website Espai Obert ("Open Space" in Catalan language)

The Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC) has launched a transparency portal, dubbing itself “the first open party of Barcelona.” This is part of an effort to renew the organization and perception of the party in a context of profound distrust toward politics in the whole country, after several big corruption scandals that involved the Prime Minister and, lately, also the Spanish Royal Family. Will the new website be enough? Read More

WeGov

An Accidental Ally For the European Union: “Thank you, Mr. Snowden,” says European Commission VP Reding in Hangout Debate

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, January 9 2014

Screenshot of the hangout debate with European Commission VP Viviane Reding

The year 2013 was a "Year for the Citizens" in the European Union where the institution pledged itself to "encourage dialogue between all levels of government, civil society, and business." But in many countries citizens were more hostile than open to communicating with an institution often perceived as distant and intrusive. That's probably one of the reasons why the European Commission is launching a series of online initiatives to create a space for debate with the most important members of the European institutions. Last Tuesday, the Vice President of the European Commission Viviane Reding hosted an online debate on Google hangout, joined by five journalists and activists from all over Europe.

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WeGov

From Flags to Tags? Euromaidan Might Be a New Revolution, But Not a Twitter One

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, December 2 2013

Euromaidan Protest Kiev - December 1, 2012 /Photo by Nessa.Gnatoush (CC BY 2.0)

Nine years after the Orange Revolution, the citizens of Ukraine are taking to the streets again, this time to protest against a government u-turn in the EU integration process, which some attribute to pressure from Russia to maintain their trade relations. While the protest has a hashtag, it hasn't been reduced to being labeled a Twitter revolution. This time, social media's role is less about organizing and more about providing a free flow of information about the protest in a country that seems to have stepped back in media freedom. 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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