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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

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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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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

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Civic Monitoring Group Raises Concerns About Bosnia's First Post-War Census

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, November 20 2013

Popis Monitor on the street with their awarness campaigns (image: Popis Monitor)

A census usually tells a country what it looks like and how it has changed but in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country still simmering with divisions amongst its ethnic groups, it has rekindled tensions over national identity. The 2013 census – the first after a 22-year hiatus – took place last month. While international institutions praised the overdue survey, a requirement for entry into the E.U., and have given Bosnia a satisfactory review of its census procedures, activists from Popis Monitor, a citizen-based monitoring project, claimed that the process was compromised by a failure of the government to inform citizens about the census, particularly on questions of religion and ethnicity, as well as several irregularities during the census collection.

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The Balkan Startup: If You Build It, Will They Come?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, October 21 2013

The list of the 12 local projects that have joined The Balkans Startup Project

The late Douglas Engelbart, an early pioneer of the Internet also known as the guy who invented the computer mouse, used the term "bootstrapping strategy" for his own business as a way to "use what you build to boost your own effectiveness." Today, the Citizens Foundation of Iceland, an organization which provides open-source civic engagement platforms, is "boostrapping e-democracy" with The Balkan Startup Project. Read More

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In Italy, Online Tool Monitors Aid Money Post-Earthquake

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, September 6 2013

The main map on Open Ricostruzione website show the damages in the area and the donations received

On May 20, 2012, I was awakened suddenly at 4 a.m. in my apartment in Milan. It didn't take long for me to find out that most of Northern Italy had experienced the same that night. A 5.9-magnitude earthquake had hit nearby in Emilia-Romagna, the region just below Lombardy, causing severe damages in cities and villages and 27 deaths. While rescue and emergency efforts went relatively smoothly, rebuilding was entirely another matter. In Italy, the construction industry has often been at the center of corruption scandals and one of the most recent ones had started with an earthquake. But with the help of an online platform, those in Emilia-Romagna were determined not to repeat the mistakes of L'Aquila, where aid money allegedly disappeared into the pockets of corrupt politicians. Read More