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First POST: Launches

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, April 15 2014

It's a day for civic start-up launches and we've got the run down; The Pulitzer committee says the NSA revelations were a "public service"; Ready for Hillary is organizing on campuses; and much, much more. 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

Voting Information Project Prepares San Francisco Hackathon

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 24 2014

The Voting Information Project (VIP) is preparing for its third hackathon next weekend in San Francisco, with the aim of encouraging developers to draw on VIP election data and the Google Civic Information API to create tools that make elections information easily accessible to voters. Read More

San Francico Selects Six Startups for "Entrepreneurship-in-Residence" Program

BY Miranda Neubauer | Saturday, March 15 2014

(Birdi via Facebook)

Six start-ups will be partnering with San Francisco city agencies to help develop innovative solutions to civic challenges touching on issues ranging from air quality to improving navigation at San Francisco International Airport, Mayor Edwin Lee announced Thursday. Read More

First POST: Interception

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, February 10 2014

First Look Media's "The Intercept" launches; Edward Snowden's reported use of a "web crawler" doesn't impress software engineers; the GOP is targeting coders to help them build their voter-targeting operation; and much, much more. Read More

Innovator's Dilemma: How SF's Rajiv Bhatia Pioneered Open Health Data and Ruffled Feathers

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, February 6 2014

Rajiv Bhatia

During his fifteen-year tenure at San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, Dr. Rajiv Bhatia excelled. By measuring the health impacts of proposed laws and policies, he created powerful tools to advocate on behalf of the disadvantaged. Gentrification is innately distasteful to many: Bhatia showed how it could be harmful. His work contributed to today’s civic obsession with open data and transparency before those words began to buzz in the ears of bureaucrats, civic hackers and entrepreneurs. He looked at data politically, and searched for political fights to deploy it in. At least he did until June of last year. Read More

First POST: Paranoid Liberalism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, January 21 2014

The New Republic accuses Snowden, Greenwald and Assange of being "paranoid libertarians"; Academics think Facebook can be used to predict election results; Data-mining for marketing purposes goes really, really awry; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Traffic

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 3 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Government shutdown of web services irking journalists; Grover Norquist is a Guy Fawkes fan; Lavabit's embattled owner explains why he shut his service down; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Not Psyched

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 12 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer offer their responses to the NSA revelations; the "tech intellectuals" get their academic review; educational technology moves in on public schools; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Verbed

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 9 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The pushback on NSA overreach starts to grow; why the Verizon vs FCC case is a big deal; Politico extends its reach into New York; and much, much more. 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.

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