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Timeline Update: January 17, 1994--Carl Malamud Launches Free Online Access to SEC EDGAR Records

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, August 17 2012

Soon after launching the Politics and the Internet timeline, we saw a tweet from long-time tech publisher and visionary Tim O'Reilly, retweeting a plug from Rep. Darrell Issa, but adding "Alas, omits @carlmalamud's work RT @DarrellIssa: An interactive history of the Internet & politics..." I immediately responded that it was an unintentional oversight, as Malamud is truly the modern open data movement's founding father. Here's the update to the timeline, which was just added. Read More

Indonesian Open Government Initiative Puts Public Services Online

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 16 2012

In Indonesia, a recent open government initiative to improve transparency and accountability included a contest in which ministries competed with innovations to streamline bureaucracy. The 10 finalists include a web app for online passport and driver's license applications. Read More

India’s Fourth Largest State Gives Transparency Priority with New Website Launch

BY Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya | Monday, July 30 2012

Last Saturday Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state more populated than Germany, launched a new state legislature website designed to make information more accessible to the public and improve communication between legislators and their constituents. Read More

Quote of the Day: The Frankenstein's Lab that Is the Internet

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 5 2012

"We think of [the Internet] as something like an abandoned mad scientist’s laboratory, in which various experiments in cognitive processing have been left to fizz and overflow together. Some of these experiments are turning into monsters, others unviable chimeras, others yet interesting hybrids." — Henry Farrell, parsing "The Politics of Open Data" on Crooked Timber. Read More

Hamburg’s New Transparency Law – Lessons for Activists

BY David Eaves | Friday, June 29 2012

David Eaves: "Two weeks ago, the State Government of Hamburg passed a new law that required all government information not impacted by privacy issues to be posted online. The law is part of a next generation of access to information laws — like the one passed in Brazil — that requires government information to be disclosed and made available online in a machine readable format. As Christian Humborg, one of the key activists behind the law, said: “An Adobe PDF document is no longer sufficient.” I asked him what activists around the world could learn from victory for Hamburg's transparency advocates. What follows is a summary of our conversation." Read More

WeGov

Brazil's Open-Government Shock Treatment

BY Greg Michener | Wednesday, June 27 2012

Officials in Brazil's government have had a transparency shock treatment in the past year. Photo: Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz

Countries arrive at more transparency and greater freedom of information either through long training or sudden shock treatment.

The U.S. experience, with decades of incremental law and legal precedent, is synonymous with the archetypical training regime. Brazil, on the other hand, is undergoing the epitome of shock treatment. In one month, May 2012, Brazil formally launched an ambitious freedom of information law that outlines a "right to information" – replete with provisions for the release of information in open, computer-readable formats – and, at around the same time, a new open-data portal. For added shock, the Brazilian government inaugurated a second new fundamental right, the "right to historical truth." This right is embodied by the newly established Truth Commission, whose aim it is to reconcile abuses from the military dictatorship that controlled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Brazil also currently occupies the co-chair of the Open Government Partnership. In short, Brazil is in the midst of a massive transparency offensive and there are positive signs that it is moving in the right direction.

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In California, Progress On a Bill to Open Government Records

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, May 24 2012

Legislation that would require all California government agencies to make public records available in an "open" format moved forward on Thursday after activists rallied to persuade the state's Senate Appropriations Committee that the requirement would not burden those agencies with millions of dollars in new obligations. The legislation calls for government agencies to save documents in a searchable format. The legislation defines "open data" as a document that can be located and downloaded by open source software, public internet applications like Google Docs, or both. The legislation also says that agencies have to make relevant databases available to the public with the "relationships and mappings" intact, and that they have to be functionally operable. Read More

WeGov

Culture Hacking: How One Project is Changing Transparency in Chile

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, May 16 2012

A few weeks after the launch of Inspector de Intereses — a Chilean website that allows citizens to map money trails in politics — the team at La Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, the organization behind the site, had an interesting visitor. At the doorstep stood a member of parliament, carrying a stack of papers which outlined his interest in various corporations. He had received the team’s letter inviting him — and his colleagues — to update his records, and here he was, ready to do so, in person no less.

That eager senator wasn’t alone: about 20 percent of Chilean parliamentarians took the opportunity to update their records. In a country where conflicts of interest are not regularly discussed or acknowledged, this was an interesting shift, a change in culture and in process that was part of a Ciudadano Inteligente's strategy to make more transparent the link between money and power in Chile.

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Things From This Weekend More Interesting Than #WHCD

BY Nick Judd | Monday, April 30 2012

At around this time every year, the barometric pressure for celebrity, power and wealth reaches record lows in Washington, D.C. Anyone who relies on hot air for their livelihood is caught up in the weather system of D.C. society and sucked into this stormy maw, which touched down this weekend at the Washington Hilton. Here's what some of the rest of us got up to this weekend while the hoi polloi were laughing along with the president. Read More

Sunlight Says House Appropriations Committee Not Making the Grade in Online Transparency

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 17 2012

Despite a House of Representatives rule adopted in January 2011 requiring that video of hearings be made available online, a full quarter of House hearings are not making it online, according to a new analysis by the Sunlight Foundation.* That's thanks in large part to the House Appropriations Committee, whose hearings account for 70 percent of those not available online, per Sunlight. Read More

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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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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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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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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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