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WeGov

Has technology changed politics? One British MP says, not so much.

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, September 30 2013

Nadhim Zahawi (center) sans musical tie (Policy Exchange/flickr)

Nadhim Zahawi is no stranger to the power of the Internet. He is better known as the British MP who set off his musical tie while speaking in parliament, a moment captured on video, which received 500,000 hits. He is also the founder of YouGov, a company that conducts polls via the Internet that performed fairly well. In a talk he gave on Sept. 25th (see the full transcript here) at the British think tank, Centre for Policy Studies, Zahawi argued that while Internet technology hasn’t changed the substance of politics, it has changed the shape of it. While he spoke specifically about British politics, the points he makes is applicable to most Western governments struggling with how to engage an evermore wary public. Read More

WeGov

Three Years Later, IPaidABribe.com Pays Off

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 23 2013

Anti-corruption, bit by bit Pranav Singh/Flickr

After reporting a bribe on IPaidABribe.com, one Bangalore student has had the satisfaction of seeing action taken against a corrupt public official.

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WeGov

On Twitter, Chilean Gov't (Relatively) More Popular Than US @Whitehouse

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 23 2013

Screenshot of @Gobiernodechile

The Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and his cabinet ministers embraced social media in 2010, in the wake of a natural disaster. Since then a tweet or a Facebook comment has become an easy and effective way for Chilean citizens to directly engage with their government. A post on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blog points out that the Chilean government has legitimized social media as a communication channel with the people.

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WeGov

How Did A Spanish Lawmaker's First Experiment in Direct Democracy Fare?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 18 2013

Screenshot of Congreso Transparente

A Spanish lawmaker reached out through the Internet to ask citizens how he should vote on Spain's new transparency bill, which was passed in parliament on September 12. Joan Baldoví promised voters he would vote along with the majority of respondents. It was the first time a Spanish politician has experimented with direct democracy.

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WeGov

New Zealand - The World's Laboratory for Progressive Digital Legislation

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, September 18 2013

The wanted Mr. Kim Dotcom (mikesolita/flickr)

One nice advantage of having a large world with lots of diverse states is the range of experiments it offers us. Countries (or regions within them) can try out ideas, and if they work, others can copy them! For example, in the world of drug policy, Portugal effectively decriminalized virtually all drugs. The result has been dramatic. And much of it positive. I wonder if we might see a similar experience in New Zealand ten years from now about technology policy. At a glance, New Zealand would probably be the place I'd send a public servant or politician wanting to know more about how to do technology policy right. So why is that? Read More

WeGov

Entering a New Era of Open Data in the U.K.?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, September 17 2013

Not your average data catalog (dfulmer/flickr)

The U.K. government, last week, began releasing its inventory of hitherto "unpublished" data on data.gov.uk while also allowing users to comment on the quality and content of the data. Is the U.K. onto something new or is it some of the same old? Read More

WeGov

On Their Terms: A Digital Project to Give Inuit Say in Developers' Arctic Ambitions

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Thursday, September 12 2013

It's walrus season in Nunavut. (j.slein/flickr)

A new project in Canada’s north is attempting to bridge the digital divide facing Inuit communities. In doing so, it hopes to give them a say as developers move to take advantage of their resource-rich land. The idea is to provide high-speed Internet access to Inuit living in northern communities, where extremely low bandwidth access makes surfing the net a slow and cumbersome task. “These people, who most need access to these networks, have the worst cost-per-bandwidth in the civilized world,” says Cohn. Read More

WeGov

Worried About The NSA? Be Glad You Don't Live In India

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 11 2013

Last week The Economic Times reported that India's massive surveillance apparatus known as the Centralised Monitoring System (CMS) will be “operational soon”—this in spite of the fact that some believed it to be at work as early as May of this year. When CMS finally made headlines, activists worried that India's existing privacy laws wouldn't be enough to protect consumers from snooping government officials abusing their powers. Low and behold—on September 9 The Hindu reported that India's 160 million Internet users are already being thoroughly surveilled, and that the government's activities violate laws meant to ensure “privacy of communications.”

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WeGov

The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More

WeGov

Hundreds Arrested As China's War On Weibo Escalates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 9 2013

This dumpling soup does not contain dead babies. John Herschell/Flickr

When it comes to cracking down on online rumors, the Chinese government means business. Last week Global Voices Advocacy wrote that more than 450 netizens have been arrested and detained by the authorities. On Monday China's Supreme Court released a document that clarifies the offenses that can land netizens behind bars, and it boils down to a numbers game. Any post that passes a viewing and reposting threshold can be considered serious defamation.

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