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WeGov

The EU and I: How to Vote for an MEP If You Can't Keep Your Parties Straight

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 15 2014

Screenshot of euandi results

Next week Europeans will go to the polls to elect representatives to the European Parliament. Over the course of four days, the 28 members states combined will choose 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). To help them with their decision, voters can turn to the Voting Advice Application euandi. After responding to 28 policy statements, euandi lists the parties that align most closely with voters' values. VAAs have been shown to increase voter turn out on election day and to raise voter awareness about political issues, but statement selection can have an outsized effect on recommendations, leaving plenty of room for bias and inaccuracy.

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WeGov

When Cute Cats Aren't Enough to Save Vimeo (or Reddit, Imgur, & 100+ Other Sites Blocked in Indonesia)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 14 2014

In his 2008 talk on the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, Ethan Zuckerman said “if you're not getting porn in your system, it doesn't work.” The idea is that popular platforms flush with cute cats and other innocuous, user-generated content are robust enough to support more controversial content, like pornography and social and political activism. Governments around the world, however, are throwing cute cats to the wind in their quest to rid the Internet of pornography (as impossible as that must seem to people who use the Internet). The most recent victims of the porn crackdown: Vimeo, Reddit and Imgur, which are now all blocked in Indonesia.

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WeGov

British Police Officers Ask Blogger to Delete Politically Critical Tweet

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 13 2014

This weekend two Cambridgeshire police officers called upon the blogger Michael Abberton at his home residence. After asking to come in for a chat they asked Abberton to delete a certain tweet, even though they clearly said no laws had been broken. According to Abberton, who wrote about the exchange on his blog Axe of Reason, the complaint had come from the political party mentioned in the offending (although not in any way illegal) tweet. The exchange has raised questions about censorship, police intimidation, and the influence of this political party.

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WeGov

Guatemala Wants Citizens to Pick Up Slack on Sky High Crime Rates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 12 2014

To say Guatemala struggles to curb crime rates would be an understatement. Per the official numbers, only two percent of crimes are prosecuted (meaning a whopping 98 percent are not, not at all). Could a new citizen-driven crime reporting tool help change that?

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WeGov

Pakistan's National Assembly Unanimously Agrees YouTube Ban Should Be Lifted

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 9 2014

Screenshot from the Hugs for YouTube! video

Pakistanis who want unfettered access to YouTube caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel this week when a resolution to lift the ban passed unanimously in the National Assembly. At the end of April Pakistan's Senate Human Rights Committee also unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban.

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In Armenia & Georgia, Data Sites Meant to Bring Transparency to Gov't Face Uphill Battles

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 7 2014

Young Georgians learn how to file a freedom of information request in the video below

The website OpenData.ge launched at the end of February as a place to store, organize and display freedom of information requests. It is a collaborative effort of four Georgian NGOs with assistance from the international NGO Huridocs, which works with organizations around the globe to harness the power of information to advance human rights. Georgia, however, has the advantage of relative government cooperation. In neighboring Armenia an organization of journalists launched PublicData.am with help from Huridocs in 2011 but have since struggled both against an unresponsive government and an indifferent media.

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MOOCs Gain Popularity in China in Spite of Barriers to Access and Anxiety About Western Influence

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 6 2014

Screenshot of Coursera Zone

Coursera's founder Andrew Ng has announced that China is the education platform's fastest growing market after the United States. More Chinese users download the Android app than in any other country, and China ranks second in number of iOS downloads.

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Where the White House "Big Data" Report Falls Short

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 6 2014

Big data by Gerd Leonhard

The White House released its report on big data Friday to general approval from civil rights advocates for its acknowledgement of the dangers of discrimination through new ways of manipulating, combining and analyzing personal data. However, a number of concerns remain: that the report was too starry-eyed about big data; that the report gave preference to industry stakeholders rather than citizen consumers; and that its policy recommendations were not forceful enough.

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WeGov

Mexican Politicians "Cave" to Internet Activists, But Was It A Ruse?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 2 2014

President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico share a toast (Wikipedia)

Last week activists in Mexico drew the world's attention to a bill proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto that would do away with net neutrality and user privacy measures, among other changes. The protest hashtag #EPNvsInternet (Enrique Peña Nieto vs the Internet) drew nearly a million tweets and became a global trending topic. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to protest the bill on April 22 in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The media reported that Mexico's governing party immediately backed away from the proposed legislation, with promises to change the problematic clauses before the vote, which has been postponed until June. However, activists behind #EPNvsInternet worry that the party will try to pass the bill with little to no changes during the Football World Cup, when the attention of their citizens is elsewhere.

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WeGov

Poderopedia to Increase Transparency in South America's Most Corrupt Country

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 2 2014

An illustration from the Poderopedia video, below

How a wealthy Chilean politician is making sure his son isn't punished to the full extent of the law for manslaughter after he hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk. Exposing the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee who also leases land to energy companies. Fact checking the 2013 presidential debates and live-tweeting the results. These are just a few of the stories made possible by Poderopedia, a platform on which journalists use public information and investigative reporting to build profiles of major political and financial players, and then map their familial ties, business connections, and other potential conflicts of interest. The second chapter of Poderopedia will launch in Venezuela tomorrow, on World Press Freedom Day, and another chapter will launch in Colombia before June. Poderopedia is finally on its way to world domination.

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