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First POST: Slippery Slopes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 1 2014

Why the CIA is fighting so hard to keep that Senate report on torture secret; OkCupid tells visitors using Firefox to use a different browser; why decentralized mesh networks should matter to dissident political movements; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Smorgasbord

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 23 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: New details on how the NSA's public review panel is being managed by the people its supposed to oversee; Ecuador wants to reimagine itself as a peer-to-peer network; Kate Losse accuses Dave Eggers of appropriating her Facebook memoir; a nifty new Twitter search tool from the Knight Lab at Northwestern; and much, much more. Read More

RIP, Change.gov

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, July 26 2013

President Barack Obama's personal brand is inextricably linked to the words "hope and change," thanks to his initial presidential campaign, so it's not surprising that open government advocates are pouncing on the removal of the contents of Change.gov as a symbol of a broken promise. Read More

White House Raises The Bar On "We the People" Petition Responses

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 16 2013

The White House announced last evening that it would be raising the signature threshold on We the People petitions to 100,000 from 25,000. The initial threshold when the program launched in September 2011 was 5,000, but it was quickly raised to 25,000 after immense feedback in its first week of operation. Petitions don't go public until the creator has collected 150 signatures through their own network. Read More

How the White House Plans to Make Innovation Fellowships Work

BY Christian Bourge | Friday, August 24 2012

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Yesterday morning, the Obama White House launched a new fellowship program aimed at bringing technological innovation to the federal government by fast-tracking the work of online development and tech start-up experts who will serve six-month stints at various federal agencies.

“What we are gunning for is an ecosystem of innovation,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park told techPresident following the morning announcement of 18 new Presidential Innovation Fellows at a White House event.

Here's how the administration plans to make Silicon Valley culture work in the White House.

Read More

White House Takes Us Behind The Scenes Of 'We The People' Petition Program

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, March 23 2012

The White House on Thursday released an online video to show the public how it incorporates feedback from its online petitioning tool "We The People," into staffers' policy formulating process. Read More

Watching the PreziPrezi: Powerpoint to the People?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, January 25 2012

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Photo: Chuck Kennedy / White House

The White House video stream of the State of the Union speech was watched by 3.2 million people last night, many of whom probably looking at the "enhanced version" with photos and charts illustrating President Obama's points. What did they see? What did they remember? And what was missing? Read More

White House Reiterates Limits for Online Petitions

BY Nick Judd | Friday, November 4 2011

When White House officials promised to issue responses to people who garner enough digital signatures on a newly launched online petition website, Obama administration digital director Macon Phillips wrote Thursday night ... Read More

Is the White House Doing Enough for 'We the People?'

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, November 2 2011

The White House's responses to recent petitions on their brand-new e-petitions platform have angered some people who don't think the administration is serious enough about their promise to listen online. Launched in ... Read More

White House Begins Responses to 'We the People'

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 26 2011

When the White House announced "We the People," an online petitioning platform, activists were cautiously optimistic. Whether the platform turns out to be a new way for average people to have a two-way conversation with ... Read More

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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wednesday >

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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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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