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WeGov

The People's "Marsad" for the Tunisian Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 18 2014

Parliament in session (credit: Al Bawsala)

In Arabic, "marsad" means observatory, but in Tunisia citizens also know it as the name of the interactive website LINK, created by activist Amira Yahyaoui, that tracks and provides updates on all the activities of the Tunisian Parliament, the National Constituent Assembly. The nonpartisan team behind Marsad sits in all of the Assembly's sessions and posts meeting minutes and discussions of bills, as well as a record of who votes for each bill. With no other resource like it being provided by the government, and an inventory now of 519 documents, Marsad has become an essential tool in Tunisia for journalists, activists and even Members of Parliament. Read More

WeGov

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 15 2014

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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WeGov

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 14 2014

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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WeGov

China's Crackdown on Online Rumors Escalates with First Public Trial

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 11 2014

Today marks China's first public trial of an online "rumormonger" convicted of spreading false information via China's popular micro-blogging service Weibo. The government's move comes amidst an escalating crackdown on online rumors that began last summer. Read More

WeGov

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

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 10 2014

Screenshot of Anusha Rehman's profile at www.na.gov.pk

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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WeGov

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

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, April 10 2014

Rather than tiny bug-sized dots, this is what activists hope drone operators will now see (notabugsplat.com)

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. Read More

WeGov

#StopSurveillanceinKS: A Draft Law in Kosovo Proposes Dragnet Surveillance à la NSA

BY Sonia Roubini | Thursday, April 3 2014

The Republic of Kosovo may soon join the list of countries with a government-led mass surveillance program. Kosovo’s Ministry of EU Integration is bringing the first draft of a surveillance law before Parliament tomorrow. The draft law proposes sweeping data collection and retention measures that could affect a set of Kosovo citizens loosely defined as "one or more persons identified in a lawful authorization and whose incoming or outgoing communications are to be intercepted and monitored." Read More

WeGov

EU Net Neutrality Vote Disappoints Everyone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 19 2014

McKayla is not impressed with the EU Net Neutrality law (Pete Souza / Wikipedia)

A draft law on net neutrality passed an European Parliament committee Tuesday 30 to 12, with 14 members abstaining. Although the draft law purports to protect net neutrality, it contains vague language that would allow ISPs to charge websites more for higher quality of service, provided it does not degrade other online services. This gives both industry groups and consumer watchdog groups something to complain about.

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WeGov

The Largest Loomio Project Yet

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, March 13 2014

Loomio goes to Greece (credit: screenshot of www.eda.org)

In many ways, open source is like a sperm bank: you never know what your offspring will look like or where they will end up unless they take the initiative to reach out. Benjamin Knight, a founder of the open source group decision-making platform known as Loomio, had his own Vince Vaughn "Delivery Man" moment when he got a call from Giorgio Mariotti from the Pirate Party of Hellas. Mariotti says he had used Loomio's open source to create 461 Loomio groups for each of the municipal to national levels of government in his country. Mariotti wanted to kickstart a process of direct democracy and needed to know: could Loomio's servers handle this many groups? Knight reassured Mariotti it could but that it was certainly the largest Loomio project to date. Read More

WeGov

Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. 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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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