Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

PDF 2012 Theme: The Internet's New Political Power

BY Chris Wong | Tuesday, April 17 2012

For years now, it's been clear that the explosion of interactive and participatory networking enabled by the Internet and related technologies is enabling a powerful expansion of grassroots civic engagement. Recent events suggest, however, that perhaps a new power is emerging centered on the Internet itself. Already this year we've witnessed one of the most massively disruptive protests in history take place not just on the Internet but, in some sense, by the Internet. In the aftermath of that protest, the Internet has continued to exhibit significant influence over the political realm, and it's difficult to ignore the myriad ways these online demonstrations, and the consequences that flow from them, have spilled over into the physical world.

One critical point in this conversation is that the Internet itself is nonpartisan, and we're beginning to see all sides of the aisle reach out to the Internet constituency with an increasing sense of urgency. We're no longer talking about whether the Internet will change politics. Rather, the ubiquity of tools, tactics, and strategies that are aimed at harnessing political power on the Web seem to acknowledge that the Internet has something more to offer.

To be sure, we're still weaving the story about the public Internet; issues like universal access to affordable high-speed connectivity, freedom of speech, censorship, privacy and control remain highly unsettled.

But there's a new story materializing, and it's not just about the public Internet anymore. It's about what happens when enough people come to see the open and free Internet as part of their identity, and they act with it to defend it. It's about the Internet public — and what happens when that public starts getting political. Thus, we're pleased to announce that the theme for Personal Democracy Forum 2012 will be "The Internet's New Political Power."

We're, of course, still hard at work lining up speakers and fleshing out compelling panels and sub-themes, but it's not too late to let us know if you have an idea for a topic or speaker that you'd like us to consider. If you have a proposal, please email it to me at chris@personaldemocracy.com.

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

More