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WeGov

In Brazil, Hacking From “Inside the Leviathan's Belly”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 7 2014

Behemoth and Leviathan, by William Blake (Wikipedia)

Last month Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, passed a resolution creating a Laboratória Ráquer—a space permanently designated for hackers—inside Congress. This is the first such hacker space in the world, according to Opening Parliament.

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WeGov

Breathing New Life into Data with the "Scrapeathon"

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, January 6 2014

The logo for Data Publica's Scrapathon (credit: Data Publica)

At the heart of most civic-oriented hackathons, those short 24-hour or so gatherings to code and create innovative apps for public good, is data. But many hackathons suffer from a lack of quality data or knowledge on where to find it, a problem that Benjamin Gans says he and his team at a for-profit data crunching company, Data Publica, noticed after attending and hosting a number of their own hackathons. They have coined the term "scrapathon" or scrapeathon to describe the new data scraping events they have begun hosting to give data a new and more purposeful life. Read More

WeGov

New Report Says Canadian Politicians’ "Digital Offices" Need a Makeover

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Wednesday, December 11 2013

A new report by the nonprofit Samara explains how Canada's politicians are not doing well in connecting online.

Canada has seen steep drops in political participation of late, as well a general decline in political engagement, according to Samara, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to improving political participation. The organization believes their MPs’ lackluster online presence has something to do with it; they released a report last week, detailing their survey of websites for Canada’s MPs. Read More

WeGov

Buenos Aires, A Pocket of Civic Innovation in Argentina

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, December 10 2013

Last week, Buenos Aires' Open Government launched an interactive timeline of its 100-year-old subway sytem (Credit: Screenshot)

In only a few years, the government, civil society and media in Buenos Aires have actively embraced open data. The Buenos Aires city government has been publishing data under a creative commons license and encouraging civic innovation through hackathons. NGOs have launched a number of tech-driven tools and Argentina's second largest newspaper, La Nación, has published several hard-hitting data journalism projects. The result is a fledgling but flourishing open data culture in Buenos Aires, in a country that has not yet adopted a freedom of information law. Read More

WeGov

Putting the International Spotlight on Killer Robots

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, December 3 2013

Campaigning in London to create a worldwide ban on killer robots (image: Stop Killer Robots/flickr)

Imagine an unmanned robot surveying enemy land and deciding, based on algorithms rather than human control, when it should and shouldn't drop a bomb or release a cascade of bullets. These "killer robots," once a topic restricted to an elite group of scientists, military analysts and visionary science writers has now reached a global audience through the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a movement that, very strikingly, seeks to preemptively ban them. Most weapons bans are reactive, taking place after it has exacted a massive toll. Read More

WeGov

Nigeria's Push to Legalize Wiretapping and Internet Surveillance Will Likely Succeed

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 18 2013

Normalizing surveillance under guise of safety (Flickr/abrinsky)

It seems as though Nigeria is using scare tactics to push through an Orwellian bill legalizing an extensive surveillance system. The proposed wiretap program would allow law enforcement and security agencies to monitor and track both phone and Internet communications.

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WeGov

India's Election Commission Lays Down Last Minute Laws For Online Campaigning

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Screenshot of PM Manmohan Singh's Twitter page

India's Election Commission recently published a set of guidelines for the use of social media in political campaigns, requiring that candidates declare the amount of funds spent on social media campaigning and pre-certify their political advertisements, among other requirements. The new rules, sprung on political campaigners less than a month before the scheduled elections, have had mixed reception, with some saying that the rules do not go far enough.

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WeGov

Italy, a Test Lab for Participatory Democracy

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Beppe Grillo Rallying the Crowd at Piazza Dante in Naples. (Avanguardie.info Web Magazine/flickr)

Online platforms for participatory democracy are flourishing in Italy and they are being initiated by civil society and local governments alike. Some of these tools are limited to 'social reporting,' where citizens are asked to recount problems and disruptions; others strive for empowering people with some sort of liquid democracy that allows people to debate and even propose legislation. But all of these platforms grew out of a deep dissatisfaction toward Italian politics and politicians. Now, a variety of tools to enable bottom-up decision making are being tested by local municipalities in Italy and being developed by small groups of volunteers. 
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WeGov

Looking to Draft a Constitution? Now You Can Google It

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, October 17 2013

Screenshot of the website

Constitute, a new platform created by the Comparative Constitutions Project in partnership with Google Ideas is a tool to "read, search and compare" constitutions from over 170 countries. Read More

WeGov

Quién Manda: A Pinterest For Politician and Lobbyist Relations?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, October 8 2013

http://quienmanda.es/

Some day, the term ‘El Fotomandón’ may give Spanish politicians the jitters. El Fotomandón is, in some sense, like a paparazzi meets Pinterest for politician and lobbyist relations, displaying photos of them interacting together. These so-called ‘protagonistas’ are tagged with their full name and titles. It belongs to the site, Quién Manda (‘Who’s Your Boss?’), launched today by Civio, a civil interest group that works on transparency issues in Spain. Its mantra is to bid ‘bye, bye to opacity’ and ‘hello to democracy.’ Read More