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First POST: Openly Closed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, March 17 2014

It's Sunshine Week, and the US government is less transparent, says AP; secret-sharing apps like Whisper and Secret are dangerous, says Austin Hill; and taking pictures of people in public now requires their permission, says Hungary; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Launch Codes

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The latest on the Crimea crisis; Sen. Al Franken casts doubt on the Comcast-Time Warner merger; Vice, Brookings and GovLab all have new launches; and much, much more. Read More

More Transparency on Agenda for NYPD and New York City Council

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, February 11 2014

NYPD Commissioner Bratton at a CompStat Meeting (Bratton/Twitter)

While there was a lot of hype about a report that the NYPD is testing Google Glass, in the short-term a policy-shift toward more accessible NYPD data has the potential to be more consequential for New Yorkers at large. Read More

What Swartz, Lessig, Assange & Snowden Have to Teach Us

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, January 27 2014

Is the lone hacker-whistleblower model of change working? (flickr: Meet the Media Guru/biatch0r/Robert Douglass/Doc Searls)

The following is the text of the remarks I made yesterday at "As Darkness Falls," an international conference that took place this past weekend in Berlin, which was focused on "Theory and Practice of Self-Empowerment in the Age of Digital Control." (People here are taking the NSA surveillance revelations very seriously.) One of my co-panelists was Jacob Applebaum, an independent hacker and security expert who works on Tor, whom I refer to as Jake at one point in my comments. Video of our full panel should be posted online soon. Read More

Speak Up, Speak Out, and Think Bigger: Honoring Aaron Swartz

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 10 2014

Brooklyn, New York (Flickr/Timothy Krause)

Tomorrow, January 11, 2014, marks the one year anniversary of Internet activist Aaron Swartz's tragic death. Since then, activists and programmers around the world have met and worked together at hackathons in his name and an award has been created in his memory. Tomorrow, activists led by Lawrence Lessig will march across New Hampshire to protest the campaign finance system, a cause Swartz encouraged Lessig to take up. But, Swartz's father is still waiting for an apology from MIT for their hypocritical approach to the prosecution of Swartz and a prominent senator is pushing to expand the cybercrime law prosecutors used to come down hard on Swartz. One year later, where are we?

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WeGov

Amidst War and Embargo, A Project to Give Congolese Say in Local Budget

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, December 16 2013

The provincial budget minister talks to the press after a generally assembly and budget vote (Credit: World Bank)

The war-ravaged province of South Kivu sits at the eastern border of the DRC, beside the stem of Tanganyika, an African Great Lake. Boris Weber, team leader for the World Bank's ICT4Gov, explains to techPresident that after years of conflict and violence in the province, the provincial government was simply not sending the money allocated to local governments. “Partly, they just didn’t have any incentive to send it. Also, they had no way of knowing and tracking how their money was going to be spent.” The World Bank’s participatory budgeting program, piloted in 2012, aimed to resolve that dilemma by giving those in Bukavu a direct say in how they wanted to see their budget spent; therefore creating the accountability needed to incentivize the provincial government to send money down the line. But locals view the program with a skeptic eye and ask, is it enough? Read More

Updated Guidelines Encourage Federal Agencies to Publish "License-Free" Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, December 12 2013

A group of open government advocates and advocacy organizations have come together to issue updated guidance on how federal agencies can make their documents available in an open and accessible way, seeking to go beyond and clarify open data guidance that the Obama administration had published in May. Read More

First POST: Intellectuals

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 12 2013

Why you should get off Facebook; where the women tech intellectuals are at; the PCCC gets poked and prodded; NYC's police crime data policy gets stopped and frisked; and much, much more. Read More

New Knight Report Maps Growing Civic Tech Ecosystem

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 4 2013

Investor networks in civic tech, per Knight Foundation report

The Knight Foundation has released a fascinating and valuable, if incomplete, report on "The Emergence of Civic Tech: Investments in a Growing Field." It's the first major effort I've seen to define and map this growing space, and covers 209 companies that have received funding since 2011 in its purview. Read More

NYC Unveils Sandy Funding Tracking Portal Amid Calls for Transparency

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, December 3 2013

New York City on Monday unveiled the first iteration of an online platform designed to track the city's dissemination of federal disaster recovery and resilience funds in connection with the aftermath from Superstorm Sandy. While advocates expressed concerns that not enough of the data was available in a disaggregated, accessible and downloadable format, city officials told techPresident they are working to make as much underlying data available as they could through New York City's Open Data portal. Read More

News Briefs

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Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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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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