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WeGov

Tribal Leader Uses Maptivism and Mobile to Improve Life in the Brazilian Rainforest

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, March 29 2013

Tribal children in Brazil's Amazon rainforest (credit: Ben Sutherland/Flickr)

Forty years ago, the once-isolated Surui people of the western Brazilian rainforest were suffering with the consequences of contact with modern society.  Over the past several decades, the tribe has been threatened by disease, substance abuse, and the threat of deforestation on their ancestral land.  Yet today, an advanced technological agenda is helping to revive and preserve the Surui way of life, under the leadership of a tribal chief with a long-term vision for ecological and cultural preservation.

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WeGov

North Korea Revokes 3G Internet Service for Foreign Visitors

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 27 2013

A Koryo Tours Manager took a shot of Pyongyang on Instagram on March 6. Source.

North Korea's brief foray into 3G Internet service, exclusively intended for tourists, has ended as of this week. A relaxation of strict prohibitions against mobile devices for foreign visitors in this winter was followed by the opening of the country’s data network in February. Officials in the country have now announced they will terminate the service, as tensions escalate on the Korean peninsula. Read More

WeGov

Open Academic Resources Offers Education Opportunities in Emerging Economies

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 18 2013

The launch of the Research Data Alliance this week could have major implications for the future of the academic community, bridging major institutions and driving collaborative innovation.  Yet the benefits of world universities opening their gates are more lateral than vertical, strengthening ties within communities that are already educationally privileged.  How do developing countries stand to benefit from open knowledge projects?

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WeGov

Mobile Health Initiatives Falling Short of a Cure

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 14 2013

As more and more mobile initiatives for the developing world are announced to great fanfare, a backlash has risen asking when we’re going to see concrete effects. Yesterday, the New York Times’ Fixes column turned an eye to the realm of mobile health, looking at some of the reasons why social limitations can work against mobile innovations.

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WeGov

Will Mobile Banking Empower Women, or Just Telecoms?

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, March 1 2013

The "virtuous circle" of MFS, according to GSMA's study.

In many developing economies, while men earn wages outside the household, women are often acting behind the scenes as the money managers at home.  Yet a recent study found that mobile banking and financial services, which have gotten a lot of press as solutions for bringing economic empowerment to citizens in developing nations, has largely passed over women who could be using them.  Could m-banking strengthen women’s financial practices and narrow the digital gender gap? Or will promoting it only line the pockets of telecom corporations?

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WeGov

Understanding the Global Digital Gender Gap

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 28 2013

The worldwide digital gender gap, from the ITU's World in 2013 report.

There are 200 million more men on the Internet than women, according to new figures from the International Telecommunication Union, and the gender gap is even wider in the developing world. Worldwide Internet usage by men currently stands at 1.5 billion, with women users at 1.3 billion. In developing nations, 16 percent fewer women than men are online, as opposed to 2 percent in the developed world. The figures come from the ITU's World in 2013 report on information technology use, released on day three of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. Read More

WeGov

Code of Conduct for SMS Disaster Response Presented to Mobile World Congress

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, February 26 2013

The Mobile World Congress is taking place in Barcelona this week, with mobile providers from around the world presenting strategies for proliferating and monetizing new technologies.  Yet as mobile’s reach extends far beyond the realm of the basic phone call, forming a fundamental part of the information infrastructure in developing nations, the humanitarian sector is also on display.  Yesterday, the Disaster Response Program from GSMA presented a Code of Conduct for SMS use during disaster response, hoping to address the mobile industry’s growing role in humanitarian crisis management.    

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WeGov

Low Price Smartphones Dominate the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, February 25 2013

The 2013 Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona today, with representatives from over two hundred countries congregating to see what the next year will bring in apps, hardware, and initiatives.  With mobile firmly in place as primary communication platform of the developing world, the focus now turns to bringing next-generation technologies into the hands of these millions of subscribers, by creating cheaper smartphones. 

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WeGov

How Mobile Can Hold Government Accountable for Clean Water Failures

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 15 2013

In India, wastewater and drinking water supplies mingle in the street (Wikimedia Commons).

National Geographic’s online series Digital Diversity is back this week with a report from the Aquaya Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting group working on public health issues in the global water crisis.   The UN may have announced last spring that 89% of the global population now has access to improved water sources, yet for thousands these sources remain unreliable, and, in many cases, still unsanitary or unsafe.  While building the infrastructure to enhance the water supply can be a long process, spreading knowledge about whether a source is drinkable is one simple solution. 

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WeGov

In Tiny Archipelago, Tensions Over the Future of Telecom

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, February 12 2013

The Spratly Islands (Wikimedia Commons).

Tiny, disputed Pacific archipelagos have been in the news recently, with Japan bolstering online security against Chinese hacks related to the Japanese claim on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.  Now another island chain is caught in a tug-of-war between several East Asian countries – and this time, the weapons of choice are mobile networks

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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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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

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