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WeGov

China's Crackdown on Online Rumors Escalates with First Public Trial

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 11 2014

Today marks China's first public trial of an online "rumormonger" convicted of spreading false information via China's popular micro-blogging service Weibo. The government's move comes amidst an escalating crackdown on online rumors that began last summer. Read More

WeGov

Why Crowdfunding Won't Change China Anytime Soon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 8 2014

Promotional image for My 17 Gay Friends, a short film crowdfunded in China

Three years after the launch of China's first crowdfunding website in July 2011, the idea is “gradually catching on,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in January. The World Bank estimates the market potential in China by 2025 to be US$46 - $50 billion dollars. Modern China scholar Julian Gewirtz argues in a Tea Leaf Nation post that the crowdfunding trend might even usher in political change in China. However, as crowdfunding is subject to the same constraints as other forms of online media, that is an extremely optimistic assertion.

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WeGov

One Messaging App, Internet Optional. And Hold The Censorship, Please.

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 2 2014

meliesthebunny/flickr

Since its launch less than two weeks ago, FireChat has been called a SnapChat and Whisper hybrid or something between SnapChat and Chatroulette. Even more astounding, in Taiwan—where FireChat toppled reigning messaging app Line from its place as number one social networking app in the App Store—thousands of participants in the Sunflower Movement have been encouraged to download the app as a means of communication during protests against a controversial trade agreement with mainland China. Bonus: FireChat is also facilitating unmediated conversations between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese users.

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First POST: Corruption, Shmorruption!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 2 2014

The Supreme Court upends the rest of the campaign finance system; Mozilla's embattled CEO makes his case; peer-to-peer mobile bluetooth messaging service FireChat takes off in Taiwan; and much, much more. Read More

#PDF14 Speaker Preview: An Interview With An Xiao Mina

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 27 2014

Starting today, we're going to be running short interviews of many of the great speakers coming to Personal Democracy Forum 2014, conducted by our terrific new conference coordinator Sonia Roubini. First up, An Xiao Mina, who first appeared at PDF 2012 and who will be giving a main hall talk. She is also helping us curate a breakout panel focused on how organizers make the move from political memes to movements. Read More

WeGov

Chinese Tourists Unwitting Witnesses to Tibetans' Plight

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 25 2014

"The most common sight on the streets of Tibet are Special Police and People’s Armed Police ~~~ Why is this?" (Sina Weibo / ICT)

The International Campaign for Tibet has been collecting social media posts from Chinese tourists about Tibet that reveal far more than Tibetans themselves are allowed to share, and more than foreigners are allowed to see.

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WeGov

After Spectacular Twitter Ban Fail, Turkey Becomes First Country To Block Google DNS

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 24 2014

Screenshot of a Tor graph of usage spiking in Turkey

After the Twitter block in Turkey failed so spectacularly last week—sending the numbers of in-country tweets sky high—the authorities responded by blocking Google DNS, one of the most popular ways of circumventing the Twitter ban. The action has earned Turkey the dubious distinction of being the first country to block Google DNS.

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WeGov

China Gives Streaming TV the Red Carpet Censorship Treatment

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, March 20 2014

Is House of Cards' reign coming to an end in China?

China keeps foreign media in the country on a tight, short leash, capping the number of foreign films at 34 a year. They also have an ever-expanding system of censoring the web known as the Great Firewall. So it surprised many when it turned out that House of Cards is wildly popular in China, and that it had “survived” the country's notorious censors. Well, that time might be coming to an end. The state media watchdog will now be following the “censor first, broadcast later” policy for streaming content that feature films have endured for decades.

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WeGov

More Evidence That MOOCs Are Not Great Equalizers

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 17 2014

A survey by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that the majority of students enrolled in Coursera's massive open online courses or MOOCs are employed, degree-holding men.

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WeGov

How Does Lebanese Censorship Stack Up Against Chinese, Iranian and Russian?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Kiss: banned (Wikipedia)

Since 2011 the NGO March Lebanon has been curating examples of censorship in Lebanon in a Virtual Museum of Censorship.

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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.

GO

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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