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First POST: Yum, Cookies!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 11 2013

Now the NSA rides along with Google's special "cookie" to monitor users; Joe Biden to take questions by Skype today; the rightwing blogosphere is getting rolled up by Salem Communications; and much, much more. Read More

NYC Looks to Reinvent 311 for Mobile with New Challenge

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 26 2013

311 requests by district (nyc.gov)

New York City is partnering with Code for America and Stack Exchange to invite civic technologists and other hackers to "reinvent 311" with a focus on new and existing mobile tools. "From parking and recycling rules to birth certificates, all of 311's content is available through an API (application programming interface) - but it's not yet widely available in the mobile space," according to the page of the Reinvent 311: Mobile Content Challenge. Read More

WeGov

Dude, Where's My Cow? There May Be An App For That

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 18 2013

siwild/flickr

Sometimes the thieves come in large trucks armed with guns and take what they like in broad daylight. Sometimes they slink across the fields in the middle of the night for their plunder. But the results are the same: the loss of crops and in many cases, cows, that has cost farmers US$52 million a year in Jamaica alone. These thefts – known as praedial larceny – are endemic across the Caribbean region. Read More

Mobile Canvassing Startup Organizer Changes Leadership, Integrates With NationBuilder

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, October 3 2013

Organizer enables campaigners to 'cut turf' by precinct, and managers to track their progress

Organizer, the Democratically-oriented mobile political canvassing software startup, signaled a new strategic direction earlier this week when it casually unveiled the news that it has appointed new leadership in the form of Bay Area politico Chris Kelly, at the same time that it announced a closer integration with NationBuilder. Read More

WeGov

In Abu Dhabi, A Government-Led "Civic" App Is Surprisingly Popular

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

A simple, free smartphone application called CityGuard has given thousands of Abu Dhabi residents the opportunity to be more involved in maintaining their communities. The government-developed mobile application allows citizens to report civic issues with just a few swipes on their smartphones. According to FutureGov Asia, the crowdsourcing initiative is surprising popular and successful. The app is the “cornerstone” of the Abu Dhabi government's initiative to empower and engage citizens through technology.

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WeGov

Getting Social About Water To Save Lives

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Every year more than 750,000 children under the age of five die after contracting diarrheal disease. Many of those deaths could be prevented if only the children had access to safe drinking water. A new smartphone app called mWater will try to tackle that problem through what they call social water monitoring. USAID thinks there's something to the idea: they just invested US$100,000 in their pilot project in Tanzania.

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WeGov

Why Did Mobile Money Flop In Nigeria?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Two years have passed since a mobile money service was deployed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and it still has yet to catch on with the masses. According to a recent poll by the Nigerian research company NOI, only 6 out of 10 Nigerians know about the service (59 percent), and of that number only 13 percent are using it.

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WeGov

One-Size-Fits-All Toolkit For Gathering Information In A Crisis

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 4 2013

The thing about crises is that they can take you by surprise. Although governments and humanitarian organizations do their best to prepare, it's nice to have something to fall back on in any situation, something like an emergency first aid kit for NGOs. The nonprofit media support organization Internews thought so too, which is why they partnered with Columbia University's Modi Research Group and Captricity to create the Humanitarian Data Toolkit.

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WeGov

Lebanese Army Tries to Stem Tide of Violence With New Smartphone App

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Fireworks or gunshots? Who knows--check Way to Safety (baron valium/Flickr)

Tech-savvy entrepreneurs in Lebanon are making the streets safer to walk by warning users of gunfights, roadblocks and other hazards. The smartphone app Ma2too3a takes crowdsourced information about protests, traffic and conflict and maps it. Another app analyzes sounds and can tell you if what you're hearing is gunfire or something less threatening, like fireworks. Taking their cues from the public demand for this kind of tool, the Lebanese army last week released their own security app called LAF Shield.

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WeGov

Mexican Villagers Best the Big, Bad Telecom By Building Their Own

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 30 2013

In a still from the Rhizomatica video below, villagers meet to discuss the community mobile phone service.

In a Mexican town so remote and so small that no major telecom company wants to provide cell phone coverage, the locals built their own tower and phone service provider. They're now paying 13 times less than someone on a basic plan in Mexico City, according to the AFP.

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News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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

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.

GO

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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