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WeGov

"Accidental" Blocking of Australian Websites Raises Concerns About Government Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 22 2013

Sydney Opera House (Anthony Winning)

An Australian government agency admitted last week to unintentionally blocking more than 1,200 perfectly legal websites in the process of shutting down one allegedly fraudulent site. In their defense, they pointed out that they have successfully blocked a number of websites in the past nine months without such digital collateral. This assertion came as no consolation to Australian netizens concerned about Internet censorship, especially opaque and hazily legal censorship.

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Crowdsourcing Waste Management Solutions in Montenegro

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 21 2013

Perast, Montenegro via Wikipedia

For once we aren't talking about the worldwide scarcity of toilets, just good old-fashioned household waste. Montenegro has a garbage problem so bad even the tourists are complaining about it. A new mobile app sponsored by the Agency for Environmental Protection, NGO Ozon and United Nations Development Programme in Montenegro will hopefully get citizens involved in reporting illegal garbage dumps. Read More

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Her Majesty's Government Wants to Monetize Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 20 2013

London skyline via Wikipedia

A new paper from the chair of the U.K. government's Open Strategy Board outlines the best practices for the government's open data policies. The government-commissioned Shakespeare Review – after author Stephan Shakespeare – looks into ways to monetize open data, and recommends an all-encompassing National Data Strategy.

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Burma's Upcoming Telecom Revolution Will Probably Not Bring Internet Freedom

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 20 2013

Yangon, Burma, via Wikipedia

Burma (Myanmar) is on the threshold of an Internet revolution, but Human Rights Watch has warned companies to proceed with caution or risk trampling Burmese citizens' rights. Read More

WeGov

Chilean Anti-Corruption Resource: A Crowdsourced Database of Social and Political Connections

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 17 2013

Screenshot from the Esto es Poderopedia video via Vimeo

In countries where a small minority of social circles have a majority of the political and economic power, personal relationships can affect major decision-making, a serious concern of anti-corruption activists. A new web platform stores personal profiles of key players in Chilean business and politics, complete with biographies and personal and professional connections through family, education, social circles, employers and coworkers, to make tracking social relationships and conflict-of-interest easier. Called Poderopedia (from the Spanish word for power), the project sounds kind of like LinkedIn, but the creation and management of profiles is being crowdsourced out to journalists, activists and concerned citizens.

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Saudi Religious Leader Warns Twitter Users of Consequences in the Afterlife

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 17 2013

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia via Wikipedia

In late March, Saudi Arabia's top religious cleric said Twitter was for clowns and corrupters. Earlier this week, he said anyone using social media, in particular Twitter, “has lost this world and the afterlife.” His comments might be laughable, if they did not come at a time when the Saudi government is looking into monitoring or blocking social media sites and eliminating user anonymity.

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Female Organizer of Pakistan's First Hackathon Stresses Collaboration Over Competition

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 16 2013

Downtown Karachi via Wikipedia

After Pakistan banned Valentine's Day this year, Sabeen Mahmud started an online protest in which people uploaded photos to mock the government ban. In the weeks following she received death threats and menacing phone calls, and early on she had to stay home from work. That did nothing, however, to keep her from further organizing. Last month, the café she started in Karachi hosted Pakistan's first ever hackathon, which tackled problems including sanitation, crime, disaster management, and education. She even invited a government representative to observe the initial conversations, tackling sensitive areas like government inefficiency and elections.

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Are Syria's Internet Outages Increasing in Frequency?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 15 2013

Visualization of the most recent power outage in Syria, courtesy of Arbor Networks

At 3:30 Wednesday morning, Jim Cowie received an automated text message: Syria's Internet was down, again. The eight hour outage today was the second Internet blackout in Syria since the start of May, and the fourth since last November. Many have speculated the blackouts are a result of deliberate government interference, but there is no consensus as to why and indeed no concrete evidence one way or the other.

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Chinese Netizens Use Digital Initiative to Gain Media Attention for Unsolved Poisoning Case

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 15 2013

Screen shot of the signatures on the Chinese netizens' petition to the Obama administration

Last month a medical science student at a Shanghai university died from poisoning, allegedly murdered by his roommate. The specifics of the crime echoed a case from the mid-1990s, in which a 19-year-old student was poisoned with thallium. That case has once again been thrown into the media spotlight, but after 18 years the media has changed and the spotlight means a trending hashtag on Sina Weibo or an online petition to the U.S. President.

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Tools to Keep Independent Media Online in Hostile Environments

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 14 2013

Websites and media outlets in developing countries or countries with corrupt or repressive regimes struggle daily to fend off hacker attacks, some from their own government — like the Malaysian news portal Sarawak Report, which techPresident reported was taken down in April by sustained denial-of-service attacks. The negative attention controversial reporting draws can scare local advertisers away as well, making it difficult for a media company to support itself. Media Frontiers offers two services to websites dealing with either of those problems.

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