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PDF14 Theme: Save the Internet | The Internet Saves

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, March 25 2014

It's time to announce our theme for Personal Democracy Forum 2014. Although last year it was "Think Bigger," and in 2012, it was "The Internet's New Political Power," the Snowden revelations and recent events around the world have made it hard for us to be so aspirational. To be honest, it feels like we are living in both the best of times and the worst of times. So this year's theme may at first glance appear to be a contradiction: "Save the Internet | The Internet Saves." (It works nicely as a .gif!) Read More

First POST: Tipping Points

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 16 2014

Mike Bloomberg puts some more muscle into his gun control campaigning; Mark Zuckerberg now likes multiple identities; Airbnb wishes it could collect taxes in New York State; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 14 2014

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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First POST: Bleeding Hearts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, April 14 2014

Did the NSA exploit the Heartbleed bug instead of fixing it?; one in five Americans online has had their private accounts hacked; UltraViolet gets under Dartmouth's skin with online ads; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] Tech, Democracy and USAID

BY Katrin Verclas | Thursday, April 10 2014

Among a myriad of controversies surrounding ZunZuneo is the illicit collection of millions of cell phone numbers (teleyradio)

There has been much debate about the ill-fated "Cuban Twitter" program funded by USAID, the US development agency, and administered by Beltway contractors Creative Associates and MobileAccord. While "Cuban Twitter" was indeed completely mismanaged, USAID is involved in a myriad of other projects that are supporting democracy efforts, citizen oversight over institutions, political party development, and fair elections. Many of these purport to have a technology component as well. So how do they fare? Read More

WeGov

A Global Campaign to Monitor the "Digital Weapons" Trade

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, April 8 2014

A map from the CAUSE website shows where surveillance technology has been sold to countries with spotty human rights records.

In an alarming trend, surveillance technology companies, many of them in western countries with decent human rights records are selling surveillance technology to countries with fairly sinister ones. This problem, which some activists have called the "digital arms trade" is global and complex in nature and is at the heart of a new global campaign launched on April 4 by an international group of leading NGOs. They banded together to create the Coalition Against Unlawful Surveillance Exports (CAUSE), calling for governments to take action on the international trade in communication surveillance technologies. Read More

First POST: Stunts

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 8 2014

USAID pushes back in defense of ZunZeneo; Indian candidate copies from Obama data playbook; cities from Boston to Philly to San Francisco roll with the web; and much much more. Read More

WeGov

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: The Problem with ZunZuneo and "Cuban Twitter"

BY Anne Nelson | Monday, April 7 2014

Rock painting of the "Cuban Five" (Photo copyright: Anne Nelson, 2013)

On April 3, the AP broke the story of ZunZuneo, a USAID-funded text messaging service in Cuba designed to circumvent government censorship and build a platform for dissent. Latin America expert and new media scholar Anne Nelson explains why the covert project was such a bad idea. Read More

WeGov

What Does Privacy Have to Do with Open Government?

BY Christopher Wilson | Friday, April 4 2014

Activist Aruna Roy raised questions about privacy in open government at last year's OGP Summit (Joe Athialy/flickr)

The answer to that question might not be obvious. Privacy is something we tend to associate with people and personal information, while open government is presumably about making government data and processes transparent for more accountability (see Open Knowledge Foundation’s distinction between Open Data and My Data). But it’s a question that’s getting asked, as privacy and surveillance are increasingly prominent concerns in a post-Snowden world. It’s also an issue that commanded the attention of the open government community at last year’s OGP Summit. Since then, though, there’s been relatively little discussion or progress made to understand the relationship between privacy and open government. As the open government community convenes regional meetings this spring, it’s important to take stock of how open data and data sharing are de-facto drawing boundaries around these norms, and take clear steps towards building privacy into the open government mandate.

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WeGov

#StopSurveillanceinKS: A Draft Law in Kosovo Proposes Dragnet Surveillance à la NSA

BY Sonia Roubini | Thursday, April 3 2014

The Republic of Kosovo may soon join the list of countries with a government-led mass surveillance program. Kosovo’s Ministry of EU Integration is bringing the first draft of a surveillance law before Parliament tomorrow. The draft law proposes sweeping data collection and retention measures that could affect a set of Kosovo citizens loosely defined as "one or more persons identified in a lawful authorization and whose incoming or outgoing communications are to be intercepted and monitored." Read More

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

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wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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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.

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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.

GO

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