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First POST: Collections

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 13 2014

The collection of phone meta-data would not have stopped any terrorist attacks since 9-11, says a New America Foundation study; Christie's aides are hardly the only political hacks using personal email to avoid public records laws; Matthew Burton explains how the CFPB's experience can help other govies make better web products; and much, much more. Read More

Should Members of Congress And Witnesses Be Allowed To Skype Into Hearings?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Eric Swalwell, a California House Democrat (center,) Wants To Skype Into Hearings. Photo: Flickr/Realtor Action Center

A new proposal to allow House members and witnesses to participate remotely via teleconference in committee hearings shows a lot of promise, says a former Democratic House staffer who's now at a Washington, D.C. think tank examining ways that the lawmaking process could become more participatory. But the proposal to enable members of Congress to spend more time in their districts would fall far from the Congressmen's stated end goal of diminishing the influence of lobbyists. Read More

What Does 'Innovation' Mean In Local Government? A New America Foundation Report Tries To Figure That Out

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, April 5 2013

High profile politicians such as Gavin Newsom might talk a lot about public-private partnerships, e-government and civic engagement projects, but the most important innovations in the minds of government workers are ... Read More

"Internet in a Suitcase:" Not Really in a Suitcase, But Really On Its Way

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 21 2013

The so-called "Internet in a suitcase" project reached another milestone Wednesday as the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute announced the public developer release of the free open source wireless networking platform Commotion Beta. Read More

WeGov

Alec Ross, Leaving State Department for Private Sector, Talks "21st-Century Statecraft"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, March 11 2013

State Department Senior Adviser for Innovation Alec Ross will leave government Tuesday and immediately start work on a new policy analysis and advisory shop to governments, investors, and other kinds of institutions — a company that plans to advise its clients on geopolitics in a globally networked world. In a protracted email exchange and a phone interview, Ross explained to techPresident where he thinks "21st-century statecraft" now stands and discussed his future plans. Read More

New Study on Internet Censorship and Political Activism in Uzbekistan

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, July 20 2012

The government of Uzbekistan's repressive policies coupled with widespread self-censorship are creating a deeply insular society, which makes access to a safe place on the Internet psychologically and ideologically important, posits the author of a new paper. In other words, people are forgetting basic democratic values as they avoid reading anything political, lest they be discovered by government monitors and punished with a loss of personal freedom. Read More

New America Foundation Scales Up Open Technology Efforts

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, April 26 2012

The New America Foundation today announced the launch of the Open Technology Institute, billed as a center for impartial research, open discourse, innovative fieldwork, and new tech development related to the issues of Internet freedom and open technology. It's a scaling-up of the foundation's Open Technology Initiative, which did more or less the same thing. Sascha Meinrath, who worked on similar projects — most famously so-called "circumvention technology" projects like the "Internet in a suitcase" — while also working on that initiative, will head up the new institute as a vice president at New America. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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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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