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WeGov

In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 20 2014

A scene from the mountain range in Mexico that foreign companies hope to mine for gold and silver.

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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Where the White House "Big Data" Report Falls Short

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 6 2014

Big data by Gerd Leonhard

The White House released its report on big data Friday to general approval from civil rights advocates for its acknowledgement of the dangers of discrimination through new ways of manipulating, combining and analyzing personal data. However, a number of concerns remain: that the report was too starry-eyed about big data; that the report gave preference to industry stakeholders rather than citizen consumers; and that its policy recommendations were not forceful enough.

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WeGov

Mexican Politicians "Cave" to Internet Activists, But Was It A Ruse?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 2 2014

President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico share a toast (Wikipedia)

Last week activists in Mexico drew the world's attention to a bill proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto that would do away with net neutrality and user privacy measures, among other changes. The protest hashtag #EPNvsInternet (Enrique Peña Nieto vs the Internet) drew nearly a million tweets and became a global trending topic. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to protest the bill on April 22 in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The media reported that Mexico's governing party immediately backed away from the proposed legislation, with promises to change the problematic clauses before the vote, which has been postponed until June. However, activists behind #EPNvsInternet worry that the party will try to pass the bill with little to no changes during the Football World Cup, when the attention of their citizens is elsewhere.

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WeGov

In Ottawa, Open Data App Competition Mysteriously Disappears

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, December 4 2013

Traffic jam (Flickr/MSVG)

Shortly after the city of Ottawa released their new smartphone traffic navigation app in mid-November, the negative reviews started to pour in: users reported bugs logging in and bemoaned a lack of features. It was a disappointing product all around, but especially so when one considered that it cost the city roughly $95,000. Then the Ottawa Citizen revealed that the city had considered sponsoring an open data competition, but ultimately chose to give the massive contract to a Toronto company.

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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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WeGov

Canada Has its Own Version of PRISM, Reveals Toronto Newspaper

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 11 2013

President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Pete Souza via Wikipedia)

While it may not have a Bond film-worthy name like PRISM, it turns out Canada has a surveillance program of its own. Canadian news outlet The Globe and Mail learned about the program through Access to Information requests filed with the government. They sifted through hundred of records, although extensive passages were redacted for reasons of national security so there are still lingering questions and concerns.

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WeGov

Canadian Government Spied on Aboriginal Activist's Social Media Accounts

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 29 2013

Screenshot (video below) of Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, defending Canadians' privacy

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada found two government departments violated the Privacy Act when they gained access to aboriginal advocate Cindy Blackstock's social media accounts. According to the Toronto Star, officials began monitoring her Facebook page in February of 2010 to ensure Blackstock was not releasing sensitive information about her human rights lawsuit against Ottawa, but they gathered private, personal information entirely unrelated to the case.

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WeGov

Mapping Violence Against Journalists, Social Media Users and Bloggers in Mexico

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 3 2013

Screengrab from crowdsourced map

In a country where 87 journalists have been killed and 17 have disappeared since 2000, a new crowdsourced map offers a safe way to report and record attacks against journalists, bloggers, Facebook and Twitter users. A combined effort between Freedom House and the International Center for Journalists, as of May 3 the map already had 48 reports. Reports included physical, judicial, psychological and digital attacks.

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WeGov

Canada's Liberal Party Holds Online Primaries While Security Experts Scowl

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Wednesday, May 1 2013

Justin Trudeau, newly elected leader of Canada's Liberal party (image: Flickr/justintrudeau)

Canada’s federal Liberal party elected a new leader last week. And for the first time in the party's history, the voting took place online. Justin Trudeau, the telegenic son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada's most famous leader, won in a landslide with over 80 per cent of the vote. But online voting critics say that despite the decisive results, the Internet remains an unsafe place to cast your vote. Read More

WeGov

Canada Post Contests Open Data in the Courts

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 29 2013

Canada Post truck (Wikipedia)

Last year Canada Post filed a lawsuit against a website specializing in geocoding in the US and Canada for offering a free online database of copyrighted Canadian postal codes. They recently updated their claims to include allegations that Geolytica, the company that owns geocoder.ca, has infringed on their trademark on the phrases “postal code” and “code postale.”

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