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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

Safecast Logs its 15 Millionth Crowdsourced Data Point for Radiation Mapping

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, February 10 2014

In the wake of the 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed, residents of Japan needed a reliable source of information about radiation levels. Unfortunately, information was either unavailable or withheld from the public. The need for data compelled concerned citizens to create their own, and the need to take their own radiation readings compelled them to make their own Geiger counters. Safecast was born. Last month the global project logged their 15 millionth data point, with no sign of slowing down soon.

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WeGov

When It Comes To Internet Censorship, China & Iran Are All In This Together

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 22 2014

Iran's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology just announced that China will be collaborating with them on Iran's "clean Internet" or the National Information Network. Officials from China's Information Council met with Nasrollah Jahangard, Iran's Head of Internet and Communications Technology, earlier this month to iron out the deal.

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WeGov

China's Official Press Agency Can't Win On Twitter Because Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Who doesn't want updates on Yutu's sleeping status?!

It's not terribly surprising that Xinhua News Agency, China's official mouthpiece/press agency, doesn't “get” Twitter. Since the platform is blocked in their country, Xinhua employees can't be expected to become Twitter pros overnight. But it's been almost a year now since @XHNews opened an account; 8,242 (and counting) tweets later and they still only have 23,325 followers.

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WeGov

Japanese PM Thinks His People Just Don't Understand The State Secrecy Bill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, December 9 2013

Shinzo Abe shakes hands with President Bush (Wikipedia)

In spite of objections from human rights activists and members of the media around the world, Japan's upper chamber made the controversial State Secrecy Protection Bill law in a “raucous, late-night session” last Friday, December 6, Reuters reports. The House of Representatives passed the bill on November 26. Under the new law, state employees could be jailed for up to 10 years if they leak secrets, and journalists could be jailed for up to five if they use “grossly inappropriate” tactics to uncover state secrets. The passage of the bill has sparked uncharacteristically large protests in a country where protesters have often been considered a part of the political fringe.

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WeGov

Talk Into The Big Red Ear and the Seoul City Gov't Will Listen

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 2 2013

This is not 'Yobosayo' but it's not too far off. (Glamhag/flickr)

A giant red ear-shaped sculpture has been installed outside of Seoul's City Hall, symbolizing the Mayor and his administration's openness to public opinion and feedback. But citizens who approach the art installation will find that it is more than a symbol. The sculpture is actually facilitating a conversation between ordinary citizens and their government.

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WeGov

Chinese Netizens Get Revenge On Official Who Arrested 16-Year-Old Blogger

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 25 2013

This picture of Yang flashing the victory sign is being retweeted by a number of netizens on Weibo (screenshot/Weibo)

The Chinese authorities like to push their boundaries when it comes to policing the Internet. We know they tell media outlets what they can and cannot write, set up an online platform where they could debunk rumors and deny official wrongdoing, and operate possibly the most sophisticated online surveillance and censorship apparatus in the world. Recently the government began a crackdown on online rumormongering that has resulted in hundreds of arrests. It was the arrest of of 16-year-old boy in the Gansu Province that was one step too far for Chinese netizens. The online outrage and activism that followed the arrest eventually led to the boy's release, and to the subsequent suspension of the police chief who oversaw the boy's detention.

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WeGov

How Do You Prepare For A Disaster That Could Kill More Than 300,000 People?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Aerial view of damage to Wakuya, Japan, following 2011 earthquake (U.S. Navy/Flickr)

An earthquake in the Nankai Trough, off of the southern coast of Japan's Honshu Island, could kill up to 323,000 people and cause ¥220 trillion (US$2.21 trillion) in damages. Or at least, those are the worst case scenario projections by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Disaster Prevention Council. To prepare for the potential calamity, the Japanese government is building an electronic mapping system in advance of the potential earthquake.

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WeGov

An Online Platform From China's Internet Giants Targets The Virtual Rumor Mill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 6 2013

While China has long known how to manage state media, social media has been harder to control. Blocking search terms has had mixed results, and is hardly foolproof. Bloggers in China have learned to avoid the censors using coded or humorous language. In a new attempt to manage social media, six Chinese Internet companies have partnered with the Beijing Internet Information Office on an online platform meant to debunk rumors (or “rumors”) and false (“false”) informations.

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WeGov

Write This, Not That: Instructions From China's “Ministry of Truth”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 1 2013

On July 17 a Chinese watermelon vendor died at the hands of plainclothes policemen, or chengguan. The following day, the State Council Information Office sent this missive to China's media outlets: “All websites are asked to remove from their homepages the story of the melon grower beaten to death by chengguan in Linwu County, Chenzhou City, Hunan Province. Do not make special topic pages, and do not post video or images. Delete any such previous posts.” Instructions like this are known by Chinese journalists and bloggers as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.” More than 2,600 such instructions have been collected on the website China Digital Times.

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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.

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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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