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WeGov

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

2006 story in the Toronto Star (Hossein Derakhshan)

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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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

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

How Does Lebanese Censorship Stack Up Against Chinese, Iranian and Russian?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Kiss: banned (Wikipedia)

Since 2011 the NGO March Lebanon has been curating examples of censorship in Lebanon in a Virtual Museum of Censorship.

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WeGov

Newest Twist in Pakistan YouTube Ban Case Comes From…California

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 27 2014

Blocked! (Wikipedia)

On February 26, a U.S. federal appeals court ordered Google Inc to remove the film “Innocence of Muslims” from YouTube for copyright violations. The film sparked protests throughout the Middle East after it was released in September 2012, and demonstrations in parts of Pakistan turned violent. Pakistan's Prime Minister ordered YouTube to be blocked, ostensibly to prevent any further violence as a result of “Innocence of Muslims.” The Pakistani Internet rights organization Bytes For All has challenged the YouTube ban in court, and now that Google has been ordered to remove the film from YouTube, point out that there is now no reason to keep the site blocked.

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WeGov

The UAE Wants to Speed Up Government Service Delivery With Drones

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 25 2014

Screenshot of Netflix's (fake) "Drone2Home" program

Earlier this month Netflix released a short mock commercial poking fun at Amazon's plans to create a drone delivery service called Prime Air.

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WeGov

Digital Platform Empowers Women Within Pakistan's Patriarchal System

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 5 2014

Barriers to the workforce for women in Pakistan have compelled them to get creative (Leo Reynolds/Flickr)

In Pakistan, where many women are discourage from working outside of the home, technology has opened up different avenues through which women can enter the workforce. One start-up called the Women's Digital League is helping to facilitate this shift and to get more women working.

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WeGov

When It Comes To Internet Censorship, China & Iran Are All In This Together

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 22 2014

Iran's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology just announced that China will be collaborating with them on Iran's "clean Internet" or the National Information Network. Officials from China's Information Council met with Nasrollah Jahangard, Iran's Head of Internet and Communications Technology, earlier this month to iron out the deal.

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WeGov

"We're Not Like China!" Turkey Bleats, About Censorship Law That Makes Them More Like China

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 15 2014

Erdogan poster: "Istanbul is Ready, Target 2023" (Myrat)

The Turkish media outlet Hurriyet Daily News reported that a draft bill by the ruling party contains legislation expanding the government's right to surveil and restrict the Internet. If passed, the government could record and store Internet users' information (browser history, Internet searches, social network activity) for up to two years.

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WeGov

Mainstream Media Coverage of Syrian War "Arguably Misleading"; Here's What They Did Wrong

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Today's edition of “don't believe everything you find on the Internet” comes from a new report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on social media and the Syrian Civil War, which the authors call “the most socially mediated civil conflict in history.” It is the third report in the USIP's “Blogs and Bullets” series.

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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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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.

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