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Occupy Nigeria Documentary: Banned by Censors, Viral on YouTube

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 23 2013

Screengrab of the video Fuelling Poverty

A documentary about the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria, which drove the cost of living up, the quality life down and kicked off the Occupy Nigeria protests, went viral after being banned by the Nigerian authorities. The film “Fuelling Poverty” premiered in December 2012 and the director Ishaya Bako then submitted it to Nigeria’s National Film and Video Censors Board for approval. On April 8, the board responded by letter, banning the documentary and prohibiting Bako from distributing it independently. It now has almost 55,000 views on YouTube and on April 20, in spite of the ban, organizers of the African Movie Academy Awards voted it Best Documentary.

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Google’s Eric Schmidt on the Future Digital Police State

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 22 2013

YouTube sensations have no idea (Youtube video screengrab)

When Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to North Korea in January, techPresident picked up on his daughter’s astonishing observations of a staged photo-op of students “engaging” with the Internet. They took the trip as part of his research for the book “The New Digital Age,” co-written with Jared Cohen, which goes on sale Tuesday. Schmidt and Cohen elaborated on their experience in a long Wall Street Journal essay this past weekend. They concluded that, while the Internet is not an incorruptible, unimpeachable force of good, “no country is worse off because of the Internet.”

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Russian Anti-Corruption Activist, Blogger Aleksei Navalny on Trial for Corruption

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 22 2013

Aleksei Navalny ( MItya Aleshkovskiy)

In four years Aleksei Navalny went from being an unknown adviser to a provincial governor to “the Kremlin’s public enemy No.1” and the center of an embezzlement trial. Through his LiveJournal blog and Twitter account Navalny exposed evidence of corruption in the United Russia party and became not only a popular activist but a prominent political opposition leader as well. If convicted – and Russia has a 99 percent conviction rate – he faces ten years in prison and, as a convict, he would be prevented from running for office. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Bill Keller called it “the most important political trial in Russian in decades.”

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Venezuelan Man Detained For Posting "Destabilizing" Photo On Facebook

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, April 19 2013

Screengrab of Venezuelan Youtube video

Following the presidential election in Venezuela, a government agency detained a man on April 16 for allegedly spreading photographs of burning ballots. The Interior and Justice Ministry accused twenty-two year old Daniel Andres Rondón Sayago of sharing the pictures with “destabilizing intentions.” The Minister for Information announced the detainment via Tweet.

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With Bloggers in Mind, Bangladeshi Islamist Group Demands Law Against Blasphemy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, April 19 2013

The links to suspended Bangladesh blogs.

A radical pro-Islam group has demanded the Bangladesh government introduce a new blasphemy law in order to suppress a growing number of “atheist bloggers.” However, four bloggers have already been arrested for posting “anti-religious” statements on their blogs. Among the arrested is the award-winning blogger Asif Mohiuddin. His blog and the three others were taken down by the hosting platform, Somewhereinblog.net, after operators received takedown requests from the Bangladesh government.

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Verboice: New Tool for Social Outreach in Cambodia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 18 2013

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Milei.vencel)

Social outreach organizations including the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia and Better Factories Cambodia have begun using Verboice to reach communities otherwise cut off by literacy or technological barriers – lack of mobile support of local dialects, for example. It has been used to give women and children on demand health information, to increase access to reproductive and sexual health services, and to monitor working conditions in garment factories.

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Measuring Net Freedom and “Outrage” to Predict Next Arab Spring

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 17 2013

Screengrab from Freedom House map of Freedom on the Net 2012

While many have extolled the use of the Internet and social media in particular as a positive, democratic, organizing force in recent revolutions and turned to the web as both a tool for revolution and for predicting revolution, others say repressive regimes can effectively squash online activism. The ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for Development blog tried to predict where the next major revolution might take place by using indexes that measure Internet freedoms, autocracy and repression, and ICT development. They pitted constraint against outrage using the Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net score, The Economist Democracy Index, and the ITU’s ICT Development Index, and came up with two versions of The Revolution 2.0 Index.

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Japanese Court Orders Google Censor Search Algorithm

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 17 2013

Screengrab of Google autocomplete in action

A Japanese court has ordered Google change autocomplete results that one man complains associate his name with defamatory phrases. When Google users type in the plaintiff's name, the search engine autofills criminal acts the man asserts he never committed. The plaintiff claimed that these search results caused him to lose his job.

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Closing the Job Gap in Tanzania with Online Courses in IT Skills

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 16 2013

Coursera MOOC offerings

Coursera and the World Bank have teamed up in Tanzania to use MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) to teach students market-relevant IT skills and reduce the gap between job openings and skilled workers. A World Bank blog explains employers in Tanzania complain too many jobs go unfilled because job seekers lack the specific, necessary skills, especially in IT and ICT. The World Bank thinks Coursera could play an important part in a new and improved education system.

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Can Tech Solve African Agriculture's Four Big Problems?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 15 2013

Screengrab from Kilimo Salama promotional video.

A recent BBC article highlighted three of the tech-heavy startups trying to change the game in Africa's agriculture sector, including a franchise that gives farmers access to higher quality products, a crop insurance scheme that makes it easier for farmers to get credit, and a SMS service through which farmers can check market prices and coordinate with other farmers to buy supplies in bulk. As observed in the article, these tech solutions try to leapfrog over basic infrastructure problems – like bad roads and inefficient communications. Considering the fact that 80 percent of the arable land in Africa is not being used, tech has an awful lot to make up for.

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