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WeGov

Using Data and Statistics to Bring Down Dictators

BY Federico Guerrini | Monday, March 10 2014

War Graves in Kosovo (credit: NH53/flickr)

On September 20, 2013, in Guatemala, the former director of the National Police of Guatemala, Col. Héctor Bol de la Cruz, and his subordinate Jorge Alberto Gómez López were convicted for the abduction and presumed murder of student and labor leader Edgar Fernando García, who disappeared in 1984, during the conflict that devastated the South American country between 1960 and 1996. Three years earlier, two lower ranking officers were also convicted for the crime. The convictions were made possible thanks to the work of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that uses statistical analysis to support the cause of human rights. Read More

WeGov

More Fodder For Social Media Activism Pessimists

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 10 2014

A recent study of the Save Darfur Facebook campaign found that the massive participation online gave the “illusion of activism rather than facilitating the real thing.” More evidence, if it was needed, that the “revolution will not be tweeted.”

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What We Really (Should) Talk About When We Talk About Big Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, March 7 2014

Corporations don't need census data to guess your race & use it against you (Wikipedia)

Discrimination. Redlining. Racial profiling. These practices predate the Internet, and yet there is every indication that technology can enable infringements on civil rights to an even greater extent than before. Last week, in an effort to put civil rights at the forefront of the ongoing debate about digital privacy and security, a coalition of civil and human rights organizations jointly released “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data,” five tenets to guide policy-making.

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WeGov

Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. Read More

WeGov

How Ukraine's EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online

BY Carola Frediani | Friday, February 28 2014

Protestors in Kiev on Dec. 22, 2013. (credit: grocap/flickr)

After three months of demonstrations and fighting on the streets, ending with the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, there are few doubts that the Internet and social media played major roles in the revolution. While the Ukrainian press coverage was often limited, technology and online platforms not only materially sustained the protesters, but also helped them to reach an international audience. Read More

MoveOn To Launch Six Figure Campaign To Sign Young Americans Up For Healthcare

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, February 28 2014

Sample banner ads for MoveOn's campaign (courtesy of MoveOn.org)

On Monday, MoveOn will launch a national mobile campaign to get young Americans to sign up for health insurance by the March 31 deadline. The campaign makes use of “tap-to-call” technology, in which a cell phone user only has to tap an ad to be connected with an enrollment specialist. MoveOn has dedicated $100,000 dollars to the campaign already, but after two months of positive test results the organization hopes to raise more funds to expand the program.

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WeGov

Absent a Labor Union, Chinese Workers Organize With Social Media and Cheap Smartphones

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, February 21 2014

A clothing factory in Dongguan, China (credit: Ed-meister/flickr)

A new report by the China Labour Bulletin says that since China does not allow the formation of independent trade unions, social media and affordable smartphones have served as crucial organizing tools for Chinese workers. Read More

WeGov

From Sochi to Yerevan: Crowdfunding in the Caucasus

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Wednesday, February 12 2014

The Sayat Nova Project, a Kickstarter-funded study of the minority culture of the South Caucasus (© Onnik James Krikorian)

In July 2007, when the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics was announced, writer-filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen and photographer Rob Hornstra embarked on an ambitious project to shine a light on the then little known Black Sea resort town of Sochi, in what was to become The Sochi Project. Without the help of crowdfunding, the project and the freedom through which filmmakers could create, would not have been possible. In fact, crowdfunding for civic-oriented projects is growing ever more popular in the Caucasus, especially as press freedom stagnates and foreign aid decreases. Read More

The Day After The Day We Fought Back: Another Anti-Surveillance Campaign Already in the Works

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 12 2014

Reset button (Greg McMullin/Flickr)

Yesterday was the day the Internet fought back against mass surveillance. According to The Day We Fight Back website, roughly 86,815 calls were made to legislators and 179,682 emails were sent. The question is—what to do now? Luckily, the nonprofit organization Fight for the Future already has something in mind. They are in the process of recruiting participants and building support for the campaign Reset the Net, which will likely take place this spring.

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WeGov

Reports Show The Dark Side of the Sochi Winter Olympics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 30 2014

Screen shot of The Anti-Corruption Foundation's Encyclopedia of Spending

There is a side to the Winter Olympics that won't be shown on NBC, but corruption watchdogs like Alexei Navalny are on it. Both Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and Human Rights Watch have released interactive reports on the corruption, human rights abuse and environmental harm behind the scenes of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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