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WeGov

New Report Says Canadian Politicians’ "Digital Offices" Need a Makeover

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Wednesday, December 11 2013

A new report by the nonprofit Samara explains how Canada's politicians are not doing well in connecting online.

Canada has seen steep drops in political participation of late, as well a general decline in political engagement, according to Samara, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to improving political participation. The organization believes their MPs’ lackluster online presence has something to do with it; they released a report last week, detailing their survey of websites for Canada’s MPs. Read More

WeGov

Buenos Aires, A Pocket of Civic Innovation in Argentina

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, December 10 2013

Last week, Buenos Aires' Open Government launched an interactive timeline of its 100-year-old subway sytem (Credit: Screenshot)

In only a few years, the government, civil society and media in Buenos Aires have actively embraced open data. The Buenos Aires city government has been publishing data under a creative commons license and encouraging civic innovation through hackathons. NGOs have launched a number of tech-driven tools and Argentina's second largest newspaper, La Nación, has published several hard-hitting data journalism projects. The result is a fledgling but flourishing open data culture in Buenos Aires, in a country that has not yet adopted a freedom of information law. Read More

WeGov

A Brazilian State Takes Open Data To Another Level

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 20 2013

Screenshot of visualization of average monthly wage for occupations in Minas Gerais

The Brazilian state Minas Gerais has launched a new data visualization tool called DataViva, which is meant to help government officials, the private sector and Brazilian citizens understand big data. Although it is the product of a state government, DataViva covers the formal economy of all of Brazil.

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WeGov

Activists Put a Hole in the Great Firewall of China

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, November 18 2013

The man with the golden cam/flickr

When the Chinese versions of Reuters and the Wall Street Journal were censored on Friday, the team at GreatFire.org quickly got to work in restoring them by creating what they call “mirror sites.” Much like a reflection, they are essentially impossible to eliminate without causing significant economic damage to China, according to Great Fire co-founder Charlie Smith. Read More

WeGov

After NSA Scandal, Crop of Whistleblower Communication Tools for Journalists Emerge

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Uncle Sam wants to know (Jeff Schuler/flickr)

Among the many questions raised by the NSA scandal, there is one that is especially worrying for journalists: how to have secure communications with sources given the widespread surveillance of emails, phone calls, chats and browsing activities. How should investigative reporting deal with the technological challenges posed by governments’ mass control of Internet and phone traffic? A number of online platforms have now sprouted across the globe with the mission to protect the anonymity of journalists' sources. Read More

WeGov

Raspberry Pi Tackles the Great Firewall and Peruvian Amazon

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, November 13 2013

The low-cost computer has inspired a number of projects for social good (GijsbertPeijs/flickr)

When Eben Upton created the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card, he had no inkling its reach would extend beyond England’s borders and do more than inspire UK’s youth to program. A little went a long way. Thousands of miles, in fact, to places as far from the UK as China, India and as remote as the Peruvian Amazon. The Raspberry Pi, first conceived by Upton in 2006 and released in February of last year, is produced by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation. Since then, it has sold 1.2 million units worldwide and was named the top 100 most inspiring social tech innovations by the Nominet Trust, which has noted its use in developing countries as a low-budget tool or computer. Read More

WeGov

Italy, a Test Lab for Participatory Democracy

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Beppe Grillo Rallying the Crowd at Piazza Dante in Naples. (Avanguardie.info Web Magazine/flickr)

Online platforms for participatory democracy are flourishing in Italy and they are being initiated by civil society and local governments alike. Some of these tools are limited to 'social reporting,' where citizens are asked to recount problems and disruptions; others strive for empowering people with some sort of liquid democracy that allows people to debate and even propose legislation. But all of these platforms grew out of a deep dissatisfaction toward Italian politics and politicians. Now, a variety of tools to enable bottom-up decision making are being tested by local municipalities in Italy and being developed by small groups of volunteers. 
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WeGov

Messages From Behind Bars and Beyond the Grave

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 4 2013

Screenshot of Rodrigo Rosenberg accusing Guatemalan President Colom of murder from beyond the grave

Before flying back to his home country, Vietnam, last week, Nguyen Lan Thang took a few minutes to record a video, just in case he was arrested or detained at the airport. As a pro-democracy blogger in a country that punishes online speech that criticizes the Communist government, Thang had good reason to be worried. Sure enough, upon arriving at the airport after a three month long stint abroad, during which Thang met with human rights groups and international organizations, Thang was picked up by Vietnam's security forces.

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WeGov

Privacy and Surveillance are the Elephant in the Room at OGP Summit [UPDATED]

BY Katrin Verclas | Friday, November 1 2013

Intel Free Press/flickr

Privacy, surveillance and the closing of political space for openness and transparency activists in many countries was the hot issue at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in London that was left largely unaddressed by the OGP member countries present. Read More

WeGov

New Report Highlights Successes and Challenges of Worldwide Open Data Policies

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 31 2013

David Cameron addressing the OGP summit (10 Downing Street/Facebook)

A new study of 77 countries from the World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data Institute indicates that while 55 percent of countries have open data initiatives in place, less than 10 percent of key government datasets around the world are in fact easily accessible to the public. Read More