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WeGov

Mapping Technology Helps Pakistan Track and Prevent Epidemics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 3 2013

The map that changed epidemiology and paved the way, eventually, for data visualization via smartphone

By mapping an 1854 cholera outbreak in London, Doctor John Snow changed epidemiology forever. He discovered the source of contamination was in the water from a pump on Broad Street, not from 'bad air' as previously believed. He also pioneered the field of data journalism and data visualizations, now a staple for public health organizations. In Pakistan, data collected on smartphones by city employees has been mapped and used to target sources of the potentially deadly dengue fever and is possibly keeping infection and mortality rates down. The same technology was repurposed to combat corruption in the Pakistan election this May.

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WeGov

Singapore Expands Government Control Over Internet News

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 3 2013

Yahoo! News Singapore is one of 10 sites that must get an individual license in Singapore

As of June 1st, some online sources for Singapore news need an individual license from the government media regulator, the Media Development Authority (MDA). Online news sites are already subject to the Internet Code of Practice, which includes a description of “Prohibited Material.” However, the new License specifies that news sites must remove prohibited content within 24 hours of notification from the MDA.

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WeGov

New Anti-Corruption Initiative a First in Czech Republic

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 31 2013

Pavel Franc and others wearing symbolic hard hats (Flickr with permission)

For the first time in the Czech Republic, a group of NGOs have banded together to support nine important anti-corruption measures. They are asking Czech citizens – again, for the first time – to write to their representative Members of Parliament (MPs) and ask them to pledge support for specific anti-corruption legislation. The campaign Rekonstrukce Státu, or the Reconstruction of State, holds MPs responsible for their pledges by posting their positions on the campaign website. One of the demands has already been made into law.

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In Saudi Arabia, an Online Campaign Raises Awareness of Violence Against Women

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 30 2013

Screenshot of photos from the Libra Facebook page

Only a few weeks after Saudi Arabia launched its first major campaign against domestic violence, another campaign has picked up momentum on social media. Sponsored by Libra Productions, the campaign slogan is “Hit her (I dare you).”

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WeGov

Canadian Government Spied on Aboriginal Activist's Social Media Accounts

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 29 2013

Screenshot (video below) of Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, defending Canadians' privacy

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada found two government departments violated the Privacy Act when they gained access to aboriginal advocate Cindy Blackstock's social media accounts. According to the Toronto Star, officials began monitoring her Facebook page in February of 2010 to ensure Blackstock was not releasing sensitive information about her human rights lawsuit against Ottawa, but they gathered private, personal information entirely unrelated to the case.

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WeGov

Beijing Health Department Shuts Down Online Consumer Health Service

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 29 2013

Long lines for health services worse than rush hour traffic in Beijing via Wikipedia

The Beijing Health Department shut down an online medical appointment booking service only three days after it launched. The service had the potential to reduce waits and save patients exorbitant scalper fees. The Health Department claimed that the service misled patients and put their personal information at risk, but the department operates an online reservation service of its own and the new website, by the massive e-commerce site Taobao, threatened that service.

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New Mobile App Tags Racist Graffiti For Removal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 28 2013

Innocuous French graffiti via Wikipedia

Racism is reportedly on the rise in France, but an anti-racism organization has developed a mobile app that allows users to upload photos of racist graffiti and geo-locate them, making it easier for authorities to find and remove the offending tags from public buildings. LICRA, the International League Against Racism and Anti-semitism, says the app will be available June 11, and that they will work with local authorities to get the graffiti removed.

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Top Russian Social Network VKontakte Briefly Banned "By Mistake"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 24 2013

Screenshot from Russian social network VKontakte sign-in page

The most popular social network in Russia worked its way onto a blacklist this Friday, allegedly “by mistake,” according to the state communications regulator. However, Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte, has had run-ins with the authorities in the past for allowing activists to organize protests on the platform. Some interpret this supposedly accidental blocking as a warning shot.

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French Authorities Want to Tap (and Tax) Skype Calls

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 23 2013

Paris, France ( Wikipedia)

In spite of repeated requests from the French telecommunications authorities ARCEP, Skype has refused to classify itself as an electronic communications operator in France, which would require them to route emergency calls and allow the French police to intercept conversations. ARCEP has informed the Paris public prosecutor of Skype's refusal, and criminal charges might be brought against the company for failing to comply. This is yet another instance in recent months of France making things difficult for tech companies. Some worry that the overzealous government is discouraging technological progress in France, hindering business and economic growth.

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WeGov

New Online Platform for Crowdsourced Videos About Human Rights Issues

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 23 2013

Screenshot from Irrepressible Voices video on YouTube

Anyone with a phone and an Internet connection can be a citizen journalist, as was made clear in the hours and days after the Boston Marathon Bombings. Citizen journalism has its pros and cons, but it has popped up where most needed: after natural disasters or in war torn regions where career journalists might be barred. A new human rights initiative seeks to link citizen reporting in the form of online videos with mainstream media, governments and other policy makers. The online platform, called Irrepressible Voices, will both document human rights issues and work on solutions as a community.

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