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U.S. Commits, Yet Again, to Modernizing Administration of Freedom of Information Act

BY Alex Howard | Thursday, October 31 2013

Pictured is, from left to right, Rageh Omaar, ITV News; Tanzanian Pres. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete; and Rakesh Rajani (Alex Howard)

As part of its participation in the international Open Government Partnership (OGP), which is now holding its annual summit this week in London, the United States government is committing to further open government data, improve its management of natural resources, engage citizens in innovation and, perhaps most significantly, modernize the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). That last item is most important. The United States has had a FOIA law since 1966, and it was expanded after the Watergate scandals. It's a critical tool for the press to hold government accountable. Compliance with FOIA, however, has long been a mixed bag. Alex Howard reports from London. Read More

Developers Are Already Submitting Patches to Obama's New Open Data Policy

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, May 9 2013

Photo: Tom Lohdan / Flickr

The White House on Thursday morning released an executive order from President Barack Obama that mandates any data in information systems created by government agencies going forward be available for anyone to access, download, and use. Read More

How Congress Could Claim More of the Open Government Pie

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, February 16 2011

Photo by Jonathon D. Colman Read More

Tax Cut Extensions: Obama Presser Bumps Today's W.H. Open Gov't Chat

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, December 7 2010

Sacrifices were made when it comes to President Obama's agreement with Republicans over extending tax cuts, and that includes the White House's open government chat that was supposed to take place this afternoon. Read More

The Open Government Directive Turns One

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, December 6 2010

A year ago tomorrow, the Obama White House issued a directive calling on the federal government to be more transparent, more participatory, and more collaborative. How are things going with the Open Government Directive ... Read More

Open Data at the Golden Gate, But Transparency? Maybe Not Yet

BY Nick Judd | Friday, November 19 2010

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signs open data legislation into law. Photo: Courtesy Gavin Newsom / twitpic San Francisco, Ca., made the news last week when its board of supervisors passed an open-data law, one-upping ... Read More

Building One Contest Platform for a Diverse Government

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, June 11 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama's Apps for Health Kids is already running on ChallengePost, the platform that will be used as a executiveb branch-wide competition platform. Read More

Open Govt: Does the Govt Know What the Govt Knows?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 7 2010

At first glance, yesterday was a big day for open government in Washington, DC. Responding to the White House's Open Government Directive of last December, 29 departments and agencies published detailed plans describing ... Read More

News Briefs

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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