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#FlashHacks: Crowdscraping Corporate Data to Understand "The Man"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 8 2014

(Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

You probably work for “The Man.” If not you, then someone close to you does, and even if you have no friends or family, your government is almost certainly doing business with him. Wouldn't it be nice to know a bit more about the so-called “Man”? Thanks to the massive open data project OpenCorporates, you now can, and they are intensifying their data opening efforts with #FlashHacks, a crowdscraping campaign launched today. The campaign goal is to release 10 million data points on the companies you work for, work with, buy from, sell to, and deal with in tangible and intangible ways every day, and all in just 10 days.

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WeGov

That's So Meta: To Test Digital Democracy, Crowdsourcing Comments on Digital Democracy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 7 2014

Balanced facts on sensitive subjects, but could a community like Wikipedia come to a consensus on fraught policy decisions?

For more than a month now, Wikimedia Meta-Wiki, the global Wikimedia community site, has hosted a little experiment in digital democracy. Carl Miller, co-founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think tank Demos-UK, and Wikimedia UK's Stevie Benton wanted to see whether the mechanisms that govern Wikipedia could be applied to political policy. The opportunity to do so arose when the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the Commission on Digital Democracy, an investigation into how digital technology can be used to improve democratic processes, and solicited comments from the public.

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Libraries Hope to Help Close the Digital Divide by Lending WiFi Hotspots

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 27 2014

Computers for public use at the New York Public Library (Wikipedia)

Two plans to begin lending portable WiFi hotspots to underserved communities were among the winning projects of the Knight News Challenge to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation. Although the mechanics of the Chicago Public Library and New York Public Library initiatives are unique, the goal—to expand Internet access and promote digital literacy—are the same. Since the target demographic for these projects are underserved, often poor communities, the libraries will have to be careful to not infringe on users' privacy or digital freedoms in order to demonstrate the success of the projects.

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WeGov

Burson-Marsteller Releases Annual Twiplomacy Study

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 25 2014

"What you tweet is what you get." Finnish PM @AlexStubb

The Spanish King's abdication, Narendra Modi's win, the loss of Malaysia airlines and an Olympic bet were just a few topics of the most popular tweets by world leaders this year. Each garnered more than 24,000 retweets, according to the 2014 Burson-Marsteller's Twiplomacy Study, which captures an annual snapshot of the power, influence and relationships of world leaders and diplomats on Twitter.

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WeGov

Mexican Telecoms Law Delayed, For Now

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 24 2014

Photo: Stefan Schweihofer/Pixabay

A vote on Mexico's unpopular telecommunications legislation—which had been scheduled to coincide with the World Cup—has been put on ice until July, Libre Internet Para Todos (Free Internet for All) told Global Voices, although GV adds that the law still could be “fast tracked” through the process. In response to criticism and widespread protests in April, Mexico's governing party promised to make changes before passing the law. However, Access reports that any changes have been merely “cosmetic” and “almost all the threats to digital rights remain.”

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WeGov

Amnesty International Releases Panic Button, An App For Human Rights Activists

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 23 2014

Panic Button (Wikipedia)

On June 23 Amnesty International released their secret alert system for activists, an Android app called Panic Button. Panic Button (Beta), which techPresident covered at an earlier stage last year, is now available for download in the Google Play Store.

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WeGov

The Simplest Step Ethiopians Can Take to Protect Themselves From Excessive Gov't Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 20 2014

The Ethiopian government has at their disposal a formidable collection of surveillance technologies, and can intrusively monitor writers and activists at home and abroad. In late April the government arrested six independent bloggers and a journalist. More than 50 days later they are still being held in custody, and yet no formal charges have been filed. In March Human Rights Watch published a lengthy and detailed report warning that surveillance in Ethiopia could get even worse if the government gains the human capacity necessary to fully leverage the available technologies.

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WeGov

Who's Behind Russia's "WikiLeaks"?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, June 19 2014

Screenshot of Shaltay Boltay's Twitter account

Representatives of a “mysterious Russian hacker collective” known as “Anonymous International” or “Shaltay Boltay” (Humpty-Dumpty) have denied being hackers. They have told the press that they do very little technical hacking. Mostly they leak things: government memos, email exchanges, and insider reports.

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Singapore Outlines Plans to Become First "Smart Nation"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Marina Bay, Singapore (Wikipedia)

Forget smart cities; Singapore has announced detailed plans on how they will become the world's first “smart nation.” The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) revealed their scheme at the CommunicAsia trade show yesterday by having a remote controlled quadcopter deliver a computer to an IDA representative onstage.

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WeGov

An Ushahidi-Powered Platform Shows "Free" Healthcare In India Comes With Hidden Costs

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Mother and child, India. (Thessaly La Force/Flickr)

Two and a half years after a pilot program called Mera Swasthya Meri Aawaz (My Health, My Voice) was launched to record and document the informal fees that plague India's “free” maternal health services in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of reports have been collected and mapped. The Indian human rights organization Sahayog, which helped launched the initiative, tells techPresident that around 40 public health facilities in two Uttar Pradesh districts have been connected to informal fees, a kind of low-level corruption.

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