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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

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

Japanese Chat Service Builds In Censorship for China-Based Users

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 21 2013

Screenshot of the Citizen Lab's list of censored phrases

Some users of the popular chat application LINE get a custom version of the program, complete with built-in keyword censorship. If someone sets their country location to China during installation, the app downloads a list of censored words from LINE's host server and then any messages containing censored words is blocked. The findings are part of a report by The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, the first of a series on Asian chat and instant messaging applications.

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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

Japanese Court Orders Google Censor Search Algorithm

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 17 2013

Screengrab of Google autocomplete in action

A Japanese court has ordered Google change autocomplete results that one man complains associate his name with defamatory phrases. When Google users type in the plaintiff's name, the search engine autofills criminal acts the man asserts he never committed. The plaintiff claimed that these search results caused him to lose his job.

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WeGov

How Effective was Crisis Mapping During the 2011 Japan Earthquake?

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 7 2013

A house floats near Sendai, Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami (Wikimedia Commons).

The March 2011 earthquake in Japan had a debilitating impact on infrastructure, and took a devastating cost in human life. Response to the disaster and the road to recovery were aided significantly by a wide range of communications systems. As in many disaster situations before and since, several crisis-mapping efforts immediately took off, filling in information gaps for survivors and providing a picture to the international community.  Two years later, how useful were these maps to disaster response?

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WeGov

For the First Time, Japan's Government Hosts a Hackathon

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 7 2013

Japan’s recent strides in open data have displayed a growing interest in transparency from both citizens and public officials.  A hackathon held this past weekend shows that the government is already letting developers in on one high-level project: maintaining national security. 

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WeGov

Is This Japan's Year for Open Data?

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 1 2013

Last summer, the Japanese government announced a new open data strategy, with the intention of connecting the country’s governmental, industrial, and academic sectors. Now Japan is set to have a record year for open data projects, with open government advocates leading the way. Read More

In Japanese Social Media, No Political Opinions During Election Cycle

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, December 17 2012

Candidates at a live-streamed debate in November (screengrab from Global Voices)

As the Japanese general election came to a close yesterday, with the Liberal Democratic Party returning to control of the Diet in a landslide victory against the Democratic Party of Japan, it’s worth noting that the nation’s electorate made their choice without being allowed to express political opinions on social media. Read More

WeGov

Phone App Helps Locate People in Disaster Zones

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, October 4 2012

Image from Earthquake Buddy

An Australian mobile phone app developer has produced Earthquake Buddy, which allows users to track down their loved ones when conventional communications break down in a disaster zone. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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

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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tuesday >

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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monday >

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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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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