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Right2Water Citizens’ Initiative Gets Unsatisfactory Response: A Failure For Participation in the EU?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, March 26 2014

The Right2Water campaigners [Flickr: gruenebayern (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)]

"Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!" This is not a sign that could be seen in a street protest, but the title of a petition that recently gathered 1.6 million online signatures among European citizens and was presented to the European Commission earlier this year. This was also the first official effort of the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a petition instrument created by the EU in order to give citizens a way to push requests and issues that they care about to the attention of the EU institutions. But, as the European Commission issued an official response that proved non-committal and unsatisfactory to the committee, the issue also seem to now extend to the effectiveness of the ECI itself. Read More

WeGov

EU's First Anti-Corruption Report: What Role for Whistleblowers and Civil Society?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, February 5 2014

Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malström (credit: European Parliament on Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There are no corruption-free zones in Europe. The bottom line of the first EU Anti-corruption report might be somewhat predictable, but it also represents a first and significant (albeit small) step to launch a debate inside the EU institutions. Read More

WeGov

An Accidental Ally For the European Union: “Thank you, Mr. Snowden,” says European Commission VP Reding in Hangout Debate

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, January 9 2014

Screenshot of the hangout debate with European Commission VP Viviane Reding

The year 2013 was a "Year for the Citizens" in the European Union where the institution pledged itself to "encourage dialogue between all levels of government, civil society, and business." But in many countries citizens were more hostile than open to communicating with an institution often perceived as distant and intrusive. That's probably one of the reasons why the European Commission is launching a series of online initiatives to create a space for debate with the most important members of the European institutions. Last Tuesday, the Vice President of the European Commission Viviane Reding hosted an online debate on Google hangout, joined by five journalists and activists from all over Europe.

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EU Needs One Telco Market to Rule Them All, Says EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 30 2013

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes called on the European Parliament to pass legislation to guarantee net neutrality and end mobile roaming costs within the next year as part of an effort to achieve a true European single market and engage EU citizens politically. Read More

European Parliament does not refer ACTA to Court of Justice, Final Vote Set in June

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, March 28 2012

Yesterday, the European Parliament's International Trade Committee (INTA) voted against the referral of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court in matters of European Union law. The European Commission, the EU's executive body, already indicated it would refer the agreement to the Court a month ago, in order to assess whether ACTA is incompatible with the European Union’s fundamental rights. The commission's referral won't delay the parliament, the EU's legislative body, from voting to ratify the treaty. Read More

First POST: All Shook Up

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 22 2012

Photo: Flickr/DonkeyHotey

Today's news: A round-up of reactions to Romney Adviser Eric Fehrnstrom's comment about campaigns being like Etch-A-Sketch; Nielsen shares its findings about the demographics of the presidential candidates' online audience; a look at Harry Potter activism; more on Kony 2012; and New York City wants to run its own TLD. Read More

The European Citizens' Initiative: a New Way to Shape up Debates?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, March 15 2012

The deliver of the Avaaz.org petition against ACTA. Photo European Parliament /Flickr

Starting next April 1st, European citizens will have another tool to be part of a public debate in a more substantial way, thanks to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a form of petition that will allow them to propose legislation to the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. Will it be a new way to shape up political debates in the European Union? Read More

As Public ACTA Debate Begins, Controversy Remains

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, March 5 2012

A March 1 workshop on ACTA held by Parliament's trade committee. Photo: European Parliament

The European conversation over a controversial trade agreement has become laden with "organized misinformation," EU Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht said Saturday. De Gucht's comments come after his attendance at a March 1 workshop hosted by the parliament's trade committee, the primary venue for discussion of ACTA in the EU's popularly elected body. It was an opportunity for opponents of the treaty to weigh in on its provisions. Read More

Momentum Builds in Europe Against Controversial Treaty on Copyright, Counterfeiting

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, February 13 2012

Anti-ACTA protest in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo:Stopped / Flickr

Last Saturday, thousands of people rallied all over Europe to protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a controversial treaty that would set new international standards for dealing with copyright infringement and other copyright claims. Read More

The Europe Roundup: More Protests and Halts to ACTA Ratifications

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, February 7 2012

Anti-ACTA protest, Slovenia. Photo: Šiško

In Europe, protests against the ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement are not stopping, while some EU countries are instead halting the ratification of the treaty. In the UK, the Supreme Court is using Twitter to update on the Supreme Court's judgments in real time. Read More

News Briefs

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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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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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