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House Publishes U.S. Code in XML

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 30 2013

The House of Representatives is now making the United States Code available for download in XML format, Speaker John Boehner's office announced today. Transparency advocates like Joshua Tauberer, creator of Govtrack, welcomed the move, but are still waiting on the publication of legislative data in bulk format. Read More

House Republicans' "Citizen Cosponsor" Lets Anyone Support Any Bill Before the House

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 4 2013

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced today a relaunch of the Citizen Cosponsor project, which allows members of the public to express support for House legislation online. The new version includes all legislation introduced in the House by both Republicans and Democrats and exists on its own domain. Read More

It's Like Craigslist for People Who Hate Government Spending

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, March 28 2013

The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched "Waste List," a web-friendly collection of all the things Republicans think the federal government shouldn't be spending money on. A chief source for the list is "Wastebook," an annual effort by the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), most recently released in in October 2012. Read More

House Republicans Release More Data Catnip for Developers

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 10 2013

The Government Printing Office has begun providing access to legislation from the 113th Congress in four compressed XML files — one for bills, one for resolutions, one for joint resolutions, and one for continuing resolutions.

This consolidates access to information about legislation in the House of Representatives. It is an incremental step forward for technologists who build tools that make it easier to explain to the rest of us what Congress is doing.

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In House Appropriations, Little Movement to Support Online Transparency

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, June 6 2012

In a statement released Wednesday, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives promised to immediately direct a task force to start work on making it easier to find information about congressional bills online.

Separately, the Sunlight Foundation* reports that another appropriations subcommittee voted Wednesday to defund a Federal Communications Commission program that would provide online access to information about spending on political television ads. The information is already available in hard-copy form by making an in-person request at television stations; the FCC recently passed rules requiring broadcasters in the 50 biggest television markets to make that information available for disclosure online as well.

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For Transparency Advocates, the Honeymoon with House Republicans May Be Over

BY Nick Judd | Friday, June 1 2012

When John Boehner promised at the start of his turn as House Speaker to make the House of Representatives far more transparent, and to use technology to do it, advocates for an easier-to-understand Congress were cautiously optimistic. But House Republicans are poised to take a move that transparency advocates see as kicking the can down the road on the single most crucial thing the 112th Congress could do to open up the business of lawmaking. Read More

Hill Moves: House Majority Whip Gets New Digital Director

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, May 10 2012

House Oversight Committee deputy digital director Justin LoFranco has left Rep. Darrell Issa's committee staff to join House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy as digital director, starting today.

"Through data visualization, social media, video and civic innovation, look for @GOPWhip to be building creative and innovative community conversations and content that fosters deeper social engagement and dialogue with Congress," LoFranco said in a statement.

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Sunlight Says House Appropriations Committee Not Making the Grade in Online Transparency

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 17 2012

Despite a House of Representatives rule adopted in January 2011 requiring that video of hearings be made available online, a full quarter of House hearings are not making it online, according to a new analysis by the Sunlight Foundation.* That's thanks in large part to the House Appropriations Committee, whose hearings account for 70 percent of those not available online, per Sunlight. Read More

House GOP Hosts Legislative Data and Transparency Conference

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, February 2 2012

Today, House Republicans are hosting a conference on legislative data and transparency. The goal, as it's been explained to me, is to set the table for a conversation between House leadership and open government/open data advocates about what the House could or should do next.

More information on the conference is here. It's being live streamed.

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News Briefs

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Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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