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WeGov

Latvians Create their Own Parliamentary Bills Online

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 10 2013

Riga, capital city of Latvia (credit: Leif Sobremonte/Flickr)

The social initiative platform ManaBalss — "my voice" — offers Latvian citizens the opportunity to get directly involved in their government. Already, ManaBalss points out, two new laws have been passed because of this initiative. This might be a turning point for Latvia, which generally has one of the lowest levels of political engagement and trust in government in the European Union. According to the New York Times, until recently Latvia’s “national politics were largely controlled by a handful of business tycoons…and who are said to have chosen Latvia’s last president in a secret meeting in a zoo. Read More

WeGov

New Tactics in Fight Against Corruption Include Crowdsourcing, Mobile Games and SMS

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 9 2013

Transparency International's logo.

Transparency International has awarded grants to its chapters implementing new solutions in their anti-corruption activism – from playing a game to learn about corruption to sending a SMS to report an incident. The projects emphasize increasing public awareness and in most cases rely on individuals taking initiative. Read More

WeGov

Geeks Gather for India's First Government Sponsored Hackathon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 8 2013

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the India Planning Commission, opening the hackathon (image: Flickr/Mcenley)

The Indian government held its first ever official hackathon on April 6 and 7. The event, which took place at 10 educational institutions across the country, was organized to communicate the 12th five-year-plan, India's strategic and economic plan, to the public. More than 1,900 participants collaborated on apps and infographics, tackling problems such as healthcare opportunities and the difficulties faced by farmers. Read More

WeGov

The View From Inside Cuba's Not-So-Worldwide Web

BY Anne Nelson | Friday, April 5 2013

"Palacio" Joven Club de Computacion in Havana (credit: Anne Nelson)

The “Palacio Central de Computacion” lies in the heart of central Havana, amid battered monuments and the crumbling shells of grand hotels. Despite its “palace” billing, the design of the squat blue two-story building recalls its origins as a pre-revolution Sears box store. At the entrance, a government employee sits at a desk, with two uniformed guards standing by. No, she states firmly, foreigners may not enter the facility, and no, photographs are not permitted. What are those intent young Cubans doing at the desktops behind her? “Computing,” she answers, that is, writing school essays and emails to their Cuban friends on the Cuban “Intranet.” Read More

China Says Video Game Allowing Players to Shoot U.S. Troops Instills Patriotic Values

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, April 5 2013

Screenshot from CCTV report about Glorious Mission video game.

The video game Glorious Mission, designed for and by the Chinese military, was initially meant as a training aid for soldiers. Released to the public a few months ago, it has already been downloaded over a million times.The BBC reports that the video game is China's newest propagandatool, and cites army sources who agree Glorious Mission was made "available to the wider public...in order to instill patriotic values, the core values of the military." Read More

WeGov

Why Were Kenya's Elections Peaceful? Technology Provides Only a Partial Explanation

BY Kelly Gilblom | Thursday, April 4 2013

Screenshot of the Uchaguzi map of election day events.

When Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga graciously conceded to his opponent, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, during a Saturday television broadcast that followed a long court battle, the country breathed a sigh of relief. Fears that Kenya would spiral into crisis, as it did after the 2007 presidential elections, did not materialize. In marked contrast to the terrible violence of the last time, this post-electoral transfer of power was, with the exception of isolated incidents, peaceful. Read More

WeGov

Controversy Over Egyptian Comedian Facing Gov't Prosecution Morphs into a Twitter War

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, April 2 2013

Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef (credit: Hossam El Hamalawy / Flickr)

When the Egyptian prosecutor's office summoned a famous comedian and political satirist for questioning, accusing him of insulting the president and Islam, a war of words ensued on Twitter. On one side was the U.S. State Department, in the form of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, squaring off against the Egyptian president's office and Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood's official media wing, which has an active Twitter account. On the sidelines ordinary 'netizens queued up to cheer and jeer. Read More

WeGov

As the Internet Raises Civic Voices In Cambodia, a Struggle Brews Over Net Control

BY Faine Greenwood | Wednesday, March 27 2013

Participants at BarCamp Angkor, February 2013 (credit: Faine Greenwood)

Citizen media, spread through the Internet, are becoming increasingly important in Cambodian civil society. But as people begin to make use of the newfound ease with which they can find and spread information, activists worry that the government is preparing a strategy to reinstitute social control. Officials in Cambodia, a relatively liberal state for the region, are eager to court foreign investment. They recognize the utility of the Internet for development and international commerce. And they also appear to see the threat too-free access to information might pose to unchecked government power. Cambodia today is a case study in how government and civil society wrestle for leverage in the Internet-age developing world. Read More

WeGov

Spanish People's Party Hires Out Online Commenters to Toe the Party Line

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, March 22 2013

Last month, a major political scandal in Spain came to a head when the media was prohibited from attending press conferences addressing payoffs and other financial corruption within the left-wing People's Party. Now new evidence has surfaced that regional People's Party of the Balaeric Islands - Spanish-owned Mediterranean territories which include Majorca, Minorca, and Ibiza - has been recruiting netizens to comment on online articles that contradict the party line. Read More

WeGov

Israelis and Palestinians Launch Online Campaigns Ahead of Obama's Visit

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, March 19 2013

Logo for Operation Unbreakable Alliance on the Israeli government's Facebook page.

With Barack Obama set to land in Israel tomorrow for his first official visit as president, Israelis and Palestinians have taken to the Internet to campaign for their causes and to express approval or disapproval of what the Israeli government has dubbed Operation Unbreakable Alliance . Read More