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New Zealand - The World's Laboratory for Progressive Digital Legislation

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, September 18 2013

The wanted Mr. Kim Dotcom (mikesolita/flickr)

One nice advantage of having a large world with lots of diverse states is the range of experiments it offers us. Countries (or regions within them) can try out ideas, and if they work, others can copy them! For example, in the world of drug policy, Portugal effectively decriminalized virtually all drugs. The result has been dramatic. And much of it positive. I wonder if we might see a similar experience in New Zealand ten years from now about technology policy. At a glance, New Zealand would probably be the place I'd send a public servant or politician wanting to know more about how to do technology policy right. So why is that? Read More


Beyond Property Rights: Thinking About Moral Definitions of Openness

BY David Eaves | Tuesday, August 6 2013

Should our definition of "open" information stop at whatever a property owner says, or are there ways to expand the definition to encompass uses that may embody moral rights in addition to property rights? These aren't abstract questions, as WeGov columnist David Eaves discovers in a conversation with one of India's leading Internet activists, Sunil Abraham. Read More


Open Data Goes Mainstream With G8 Charter

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, June 26 2013

Last week marked a major turning point for open data. With a G8 communique, open data took a big leap out of the CIO's office and the world of advocates and entered more forcefully into the more general world of public policy. Read More


What Traffic Lights Say About the Future of Regulation

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, June 12 2013

London traffic lights (credit: Flickr/@doug88888)

Journalists stirred up a small scandal in Florida when they revealed that traffic signals had been adjusted to show shorter yellow lights, raising revenues thanks to tickets, even though research indicated that might make the roads less safe. The critical question at the core of all this is, what is the purpose of the red light camera? Is it to make intersections safer by recording, punishing and thus deterring drivers who recklessly run red lights? Or is it a means for government — or a private company — to raise revenue? Which goal should this technology serve? Read More


How Technology Is and Isn't Helping Fight Corruption in India

BY David Eaves | Tuesday, May 28 2013

Sunil Abraham (photo: David Sasaki/Flickr)

Launched in 2010, I Paid a Bribe has become a staple example of a tool that uses the Internet to help regular citizens fight corruption. A platform that allows people in India to report where and when they were asked to bribe a public official, it quickly drew international acclaim. But technology isn't a cure-all. In an interview with David Eaves, Center for Internet & Society founder Sunil Abraham explains how I Paid a Bribe — and other Internet-driven efforts — help, and where they might hurt, anti-corruption initiatives. Read More


Russia's OGP Concerns Show That Transparency Matters

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, May 22 2013

Last week, Russian officials announced they have withdrawn their letter of intent to join the Open Government Partnership. The Moscow Times has a statement to the Russian paper Kommersant from a presidential spokesman, saying, "We are not talking about winding up plans to join, but corrections in timing and the scale of participation are possible." So Russia may still be in. Just not soon. And maybe never. Confused? You're not alone. I actually find it fascinating that the Kremlin acts like "openness" and transparency matter. Here's why. Read More


In Jakarta, Open Environmental Data Meets Freedom of Information Law

BY David Eaves | Friday, May 10 2013

At a recent meeting of environmental advocates, a new idea emerged: that open access to environmental data should become an international standard. David Eaves writes that this is a signal that the open data movement is growing up. Read More

Optimism, Fear, and the Knight News Challenge

BY David Eaves | Tuesday, April 9 2013

Reading through the list of Knight News Challenge semi-finalists I was left feeling both optimistic and concerned. Optimistic because there are a number of great ideas people have put forward. Indeed the sheer number of submissions to the challenge - 828 - itself speaks to a deep well of people that want to find ways to improve the interaction between citizens and government. As a serious policy and government geek it is always nice to find peers. On the flip side I get a little depressed because programs like the news challenge remind me of the problems of both money, and scale, that plague any change initiative, but particularly in government. Read More


How Open Is China's Homegrown "Open-Source" Initiative?

BY David Eaves | Friday, March 29 2013

China is not the first emerging power to see open source as a way to enhance its autonomy and diminish the leverage of foreign stakeholders. Brazil has which began to aggressively invest in and implement open source solutions around 2003, also saw it as a strategic choice. Yes, reducing software costs of government played a role, but it too wanted to boost the develop its IT sector - which it sees as being strategically important - as well as reduce its dependency on American software companies. The question of course, is how effective will these strategies be? Read More


Open Data Day: Lessons for Hacktivists

BY David Eaves | Thursday, March 14 2013

International Open Data Day 2013 in Ghana (credit: Mobile Web Ghana/Flickr)

Now in its third year, Open Data Day events is far bigger than we ever dared imagine. More interesting still is its impact, both expected and unexpected. 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.