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First POST: USAID's Exploding Cigar

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 7 2014

Why ZunZeneo, the "Cuban Twitter" funded by USAID, was such a bad idea; some hard questions about the Comcast-TimeWarner merger; tech's "man problem"; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Corruption, Shmorruption!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 2 2014

The Supreme Court upends the rest of the campaign finance system; Mozilla's embattled CEO makes his case; peer-to-peer mobile bluetooth messaging service FireChat takes off in Taiwan; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

How Ukraine's EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online

BY Carola Frediani | Friday, February 28 2014

Protestors in Kiev on Dec. 22, 2013. (credit: grocap/flickr)

After three months of demonstrations and fighting on the streets, ending with the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, there are few doubts that the Internet and social media played major roles in the revolution. While the Ukrainian press coverage was often limited, technology and online platforms not only materially sustained the protesters, but also helped them to reach an international audience. Read More

MoveOn To Launch Six Figure Campaign To Sign Young Americans Up For Healthcare

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, February 28 2014

Sample banner ads for MoveOn's campaign (courtesy of MoveOn.org)

On Monday, MoveOn will launch a national mobile campaign to get young Americans to sign up for health insurance by the March 31 deadline. The campaign makes use of “tap-to-call” technology, in which a cell phone user only has to tap an ad to be connected with an enrollment specialist. MoveOn has dedicated $100,000 dollars to the campaign already, but after two months of positive test results the organization hopes to raise more funds to expand the program.

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WeGov

Absent a Labor Union, Chinese Workers Organize With Social Media and Cheap Smartphones

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, February 21 2014

A clothing factory in Dongguan, China (credit: Ed-meister/flickr)

A new report by the China Labour Bulletin says that since China does not allow the formation of independent trade unions, social media and affordable smartphones have served as crucial organizing tools for Chinese workers. Read More

First POST: Interception

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 10 2014

First Look Media's "The Intercept" launches; Edward Snowden's reported use of a "web crawler" doesn't impress software engineers; the GOP is targeting coders to help them build their voter-targeting operation; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Need to Tell Ma and Pa You've Been Arrested? In Egypt, There's An App For That

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 3 2014

When Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Ebd El Fattah was beaten and arrested in his own home at the end of November, his wife and fellow blogger Manal El Fattah were there to document and report the arrest on Twitter. But what of activists or journalists arrested alone, without friends or witnesses? They can now use the Android application Byt2ebed 3alia to alert family, friends and legal counsel that they are being arrested.

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WeGov

Recycling Phones to Raise Funds for mHealth Initiatives

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, December 19 2013

What can your old phone do? (Flickr/Phil Roeder)

A nonprofit organization that runs mHealth programs in 20 different countries has started a campaign that collects old cell phones and recycles them, using the profits to fund their humanitarian work. Hope Phones is one of those classic kill-two-birds-with-one-stone organizations: tackling the problem of cellphone waste and fundraising for their humanitarian mission at the same time.

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WeGov

Amidst War and Embargo, A Project to Give Congolese Say in Local Budget

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, December 16 2013

The provincial budget minister talks to the press after a generally assembly and budget vote (Credit: World Bank)

The war-ravaged province of South Kivu sits at the eastern border of the DRC, beside the stem of Tanganyika, an African Great Lake. Boris Weber, team leader for the World Bank's ICT4Gov, explains to techPresident that after years of conflict and violence in the province, the provincial government was simply not sending the money allocated to local governments. “Partly, they just didn’t have any incentive to send it. Also, they had no way of knowing and tracking how their money was going to be spent.” The World Bank’s participatory budgeting program, piloted in 2012, aimed to resolve that dilemma by giving those in Bukavu a direct say in how they wanted to see their budget spent; therefore creating the accountability needed to incentivize the provincial government to send money down the line. But locals view the program with a skeptic eye and ask, is it enough? Read More

First POST: Self-censorship

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, December 16 2013

The NSA uses 60 Minutes to respond to its critics; Facebook keeps track of what you don't post, the better to make you post more; Ready for Hillary seeks a 2016 Big Data advantage; and much, much more. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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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.

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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.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

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

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

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. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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