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

First POST: Smorgasbord

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 23 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: New details on how the NSA's public review panel is being managed by the people its supposed to oversee; Ecuador wants to reimagine itself as a peer-to-peer network; Kate Losse accuses Dave Eggers of appropriating her Facebook memoir; a nifty new Twitter search tool from the Knight Lab at Northwestern; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

World Bank Announces Million Dollar Open Data Initiative

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, September 20 2013

Open data gets a boost (redagainPatti/Flickr)

The use of open data for development just got a massive leg up this week, when the World Bank announced a three year open data initiative at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva. The Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation join the World Bank as partners in the initiative, which has a $1.25 million dollar budget for the first year.

Read More

WeGov

New Zealand - The World's Laboratory for Progressive Digital Legislation

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, September 18 2013

The wanted Mr. Kim Dotcom (mikesolita/flickr)

One nice advantage of having a large world with lots of diverse states is the range of experiments it offers us. Countries (or regions within them) can try out ideas, and if they work, others can copy them! For example, in the world of drug policy, Portugal effectively decriminalized virtually all drugs. The result has been dramatic. And much of it positive. I wonder if we might see a similar experience in New Zealand ten years from now about technology policy. At a glance, New Zealand would probably be the place I'd send a public servant or politician wanting to know more about how to do technology policy right. So why is that? Read More

WeGov

Entering a New Era of Open Data in the U.K.?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, September 17 2013

Not your average data catalog (dfulmer/flickr)

The U.K. government, last week, began releasing its inventory of hitherto "unpublished" data on data.gov.uk while also allowing users to comment on the quality and content of the data. Is the U.K. onto something new or is it some of the same old? Read More

WeGov

Transparency in Taiwan Gets Boost From Open Data Alliance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 16 2013

Taipei, Taiwan (Wikipedia)

This weekend Taiwan took another step toward a more transparent government. More than 200 individuals and groups from the private, public and academic sector gathered in Taipei on Saturday to establish an alliance to promote open data.

Read More

Tom Slee and the Omidyar Network: Six Degrees of Skepticism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Is the Omidyar Network the new Standard Oil?

Tom Slee has penned a tough critique of the Omidyar Network's philanthropy, titled "Six Degrees of Omidyar," arguing that its venture capital investments "time and time again" have damaged "commons-based sharing" projects, pointing to investees like microfinance fund Unitus, Global Giving, CouchSurfing, Code for America and Change.org. As with all of Slee's writing, the piece is worth reading. But I think he's painting with far too broad a brush and has cherry-picked his evidence. Read More

[Op-Ed] The Future of Open Government in New York City

BY Noel Hidalgo | Friday, September 13 2013

NYC's old voting machines look a lot like this one at the Smithsonian

In this guest op-ed, Noel Hidalgo, the program manager for Code for America in NYC and co-founder of BetaNYC, looks back over the city's mixed record of open government initiatives, and asks whether recent progress will be continued by the new crop of candidates emerging from this past week's primary votes.

Read More

WeGov

Nigeria Gets Its First Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

Since 2010, Edo State in Nigeria has set a day aside dedicated to technology and the state. The 2013 Edo State TechDay kicked off today, September 12, with the theme “Fostering Governance with Technology.” At the event (which has grown into a two day affair) Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole revealed Nigeria's first Open Data Portal.

Read More

WeGov

The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More

WeGov

Young Sudanese, 'Hungry' for Change, Take Up Crisis Mapping and Blogging

BY Amanda Sperber | Thursday, August 29 2013

Screenshot of the Facebook page for civil society initiative, Nafeer (Nafeer/Facebook)

You can’t use a credit card anywhere in Sudan, but that national hindrance doesn’t really compare to the situation in Darfur, the extreme poverty and the repressive authoritarian government headed by International Criminal Court indicted Omar al-Bashir. Despite or perhaps because of this, Sudan is seeing a small, but strong and steady growth of activism and mobilization through tech. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

GO

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

GO

wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

GO

EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”

GO

More