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New Tool Aims to Counter Congressional Gridlock with Virtual Support

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Ted Henderson, a former congressional staffer and the founder of the mobile app Capitol Bells, was frustrated by the legislative gridlock on issues such as climate change and gun control. Read More

WeGov

In Brazil, Hacking From “Inside the Leviathan's Belly”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 7 2014

Behemoth and Leviathan, by William Blake (Wikipedia)

Last month Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, passed a resolution creating a Laboratória Ráquer—a space permanently designated for hackers—inside Congress. This is the first such hacker space in the world, according to Opening Parliament.

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First POST: Jackpots

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 25 2013

How a blog post about being poor set off a cascade of solidarity; why Google's new Civic Information API is a big deal; the rise of the "protest selfie"; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: This Town

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersIs Washington too obsessed with itself to gauge public opinion on Syria correctly?; Al Gore's incredibly shrinking climate change group; and the best executive director monthly report you've ever seen; plus much, much more. Read More

How Much Did Anonymous Really Get From Congressional Staffers?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 23 2013

A recent release of email address and password combinations apparently used by congressional staffers to manage mass emails to constituents raises concerns about security, but likely won't lead to much change in the use of third-party services by members of Congress, according to Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. People claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous announced last week that they had obtained and released emails and passwords for 2,000 congressional staffers in a move designed to attract attention to their displeasure over online surveillance by the National Security Agency. But the passwords were not paired up with email address when they were released, rendering them of less use to actually breach security, and The Hill reports that they appeared to be login information for the widely used iConstituent email newsletter service. Read More

NRCC Wants to Make Vine Attack Ads a Thing With S. Carolina Congressional Race

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 12 2013

The NRCC has launched what it says is the first political attack ad in the form of a six-second Vine video in the House race in South Carolina's First District, where Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of Stephen Colbert, is running against former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Read More

LegiStorm Is Now Tracking Your Tweets, Congressional Staffers

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 5 2013

A new service from LegiStorm promises to aggregate tweets from congressional staffers along with those of lawmakers themselves, the company announced on its DevBlog last week. The service, called StormFeed, "makes available every tweet and press release of Congress in real time." Politico reports that this has drawn the ire of some Congressional staffers — some of whom were already irked at the way LegiStorm makes their salaries and job titles, which are public record under disclosure laws, easily available. Read More

One Person, One Vote? Here's How Many Voters Each "Representative" Really Represents

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, January 9 2013

For all the chatter about how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers politicians have, I've never seen a news organization or website pay any attention to how many voters each Member of the House of Representatives has. It turns out that some Members are much more popular than others, based on their actual vote totals in 2012. Read More

What Congress.gov Means for a Congressional API

BY Nick Judd and Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, September 19 2012

The Library of Congress today unveiled beta.congress.gov, a new web platform offering legislative information that is expected to eventually replace the existing THOMAS system and the congressional Legislative Information System.

House leadership has promised to offer access to the underlying data that fuels THOMAS and has repeatedly expressed a commitment to doing it. They just haven't committed to doing it during this Congress. And the lack of action on something that seems to them to be eminently doable has advocates kind of frustrated.

Gayle Osterberg, Director of Communications for the Library of Congress, seemed to indicate in an email that the Library of Congress is ready to cooperate. They just need Congress — meaning the House and Senate both — to give them the go-ahead.

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For Members of Congress, Ryan's VP Nomination Raises a Tweet Dilemma

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 16 2012

Various tweets by House members reacting to Rep. Paul Ryan's selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee may have violated Congressional rules, the Sunlight Foundation* reports. 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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