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WeGov

Anonymous Breaches North Korea's Intranet, Pledges to Flood it with Kittens

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, April 4 2013

A wanted poster for Kim Jong Un at AINDF.com.

As North Korea's nuclear rhetoric continues to escalate, last night hackers claiming to be from the group Anonymous broke through to the nation’s cloistered Intranet, hacking into government Twitter and Flickr accounts and several websites. 

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WeGov

Crowdscouring to Cut Traffic Congestion in Nairobi

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, April 3 2013

Crowdsourced traffic updates, at Ma3Route (screengrab).

Traffic congestion is a major issue in many large African cities, with commuters spending hours a day on clogged thoroughfares. The Kenyan capital of Nairobi is home to some of the worst traffic not only on the continent, but also in the world, with gridlock so unmoving that you can, on occasion, sleep in the middle of the road.

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WeGov

Is This the End of Iceland's Crowdsourced Constitution?

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, April 3 2013

Icelandic citizens who drafted the constitution last year. (Skrifstofa Stjórnlagaráðs / Flickr)

When Iceland faced a fiscal catastrophe in 2008, residents took to the streets with pots and pans to demand change from the government.  Leaders in the country took the spirit of the crowd to heart. In 2011, Iceland announced that it would be crowdsourcing its next constitution, an effort that ultimately resulted in a full draft bill.  Yet amid Iceland’s election season and the turmoil to determine the country’s future, the crowdsourced constitution has now been effectively scrapped. 

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WeGov

In Cameroon, a Crowdsourced Site for Local Listings

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, April 2 2013

Wasamundi.com (Screenshot).

As tech innovation continues to heat up in Africa from Ethiopia to Zambia, homegrown social enterprise has African developers and entrepreneurs delivering solutions to their communities. In the case of a crowdsourced online listing service form Cameroon, innovation is being driven by collaboration with everyday citizens.

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WeGov

China Gets an Apology from Apple

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, April 1 2013

Apple CEO Tim Cook's Chinese-language apology to consumers (screengrab).

In response to an aggressive Chinese media campaign that denounced their iPhone warranty policy last month, Apple has issued an apology to consumers.  Official state broadcasts reported that Chinese customers seeking to replace damaged phones were given second-hand devices, a practice that does not exist in European or American markets. 

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WeGov

Russian State Regulation - and Censorship - of the Internet Begins in Earnest

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, April 1 2013

Though around 50 percent of the population remains offline, Russian users make up the largest Internet presence in Europe.  There were 67 Russians people online last April, and projections have that number rising to over 90 million by this year.  Yet as the Russian web has grown, so have attempts to rein it in.  Now Russian leadership under Vladimir Putin has made a first major step towards centralized state control of the Internet, by acting on new legislation that will allow the government to selectively censor online content. 

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WeGov

Tribal Leader Uses Maptivism and Mobile to Improve Life in the Brazilian Rainforest

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, March 29 2013

Tribal children in Brazil's Amazon rainforest (credit: Ben Sutherland/Flickr)

Forty years ago, the once-isolated Surui people of the western Brazilian rainforest were suffering with the consequences of contact with modern society.  Over the past several decades, the tribe has been threatened by disease, substance abuse, and the threat of deforestation on their ancestral land.  Yet today, an advanced technological agenda is helping to revive and preserve the Surui way of life, under the leadership of a tribal chief with a long-term vision for ecological and cultural preservation.

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WeGov

Blackouts in Cambodia Spark Online Demands for Explanation

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 28 2013

Reports of local blackouts in Phnom Penh on the Urban Voice website. [Screengrab]

As the dry winter season interferes with hydroelectric power production in Cambodia, the capital city of Phnom Penh has been facing rolling, unpredictable blackouts.   Now, an urban mapping platform has taken up a campaign to understand when and where in the city the outages are happening, and to make the government answerable to residents who are living in the dark. 

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WeGov

In the Aftermath of Major Snowstorm, Crowdmapping the Recovery Effort in Ukraine

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 28 2013

The crisis map at HelpKyiv [screenshot].

Last week, a state of emergency was declared in Ukraine when a freak blizzard brought down nearly a month’s worth of snowfall over just 24 hours.  The storm shut down major thoroughfares during the afternoon commute on Friday in the capital city of Kiev, and caused power outages in hundreds of municipalities in the northwest region of the country. As the government struggles to restore transportation and infrastructure, a volunteer effort is crowdmapping information on shelters and other resources for storm victims – offered, in many cases, by an informal corps of citizen aid workers.

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WeGov

North Korea Revokes 3G Internet Service for Foreign Visitors

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 27 2013

A Koryo Tours Manager took a shot of Pyongyang on Instagram on March 6. Source.

North Korea's brief foray into 3G Internet service, exclusively intended for tourists, has ended as of this week. A relaxation of strict prohibitions against mobile devices for foreign visitors in this winter was followed by the opening of the country’s data network in February. Officials in the country have now announced they will terminate the service, as tensions escalate on the Korean peninsula. Read More

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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