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All over the world, groups and individuals are using technology in a variety of innovative ways to increase government transparency, fight corruption, open data, hack on civic problems, strengthen economic development, address environmental problems, improve public health and education, and advance the conditions of women and children.

Our name for this trend is "We-government" or "WeGov" for short. Unlike the older practice of e-government, where public agencies are in the driver's seat and use tech to tell citizens what officials want them to know, allow them to upload required information, and invite input but only on government's terms, WeGov is what happens when citizens and NGOs take fuller advantage of tech's affordances to create (and sometimes co-create, with government's involvement) new and better approaches to providing and using vital public information and services.

techPresident's WeGov vertical is where we cover the people, projects, trends and ideas that are shaping this emerging space with a mix of in-depth feature reporting, daily news digests, and the development of a growing archive of articles, modules and pointers to other valuable resources.

Starting in June 2013, a chunk of the coverage on WeGov is coming from a new partnership with the engine room aimed at expanding our ability to surface and connect emerging tactics and initiatives. The engine room is an organization that uses research and networks to close gaps between advocacy initiatives, technologies, strategies and resources. They match initiatives with specialized expertise to help them make the most out of new technologies. With their help, we will be adding a series of skill shares for practitioners, in-depth reports, columns, and live documentation of relevant events.

To read about WeGov articles that fall under specific categories of interest, click on the links below:

Subscribe to our WeGov mailing list. Current subscribers may need to update their preferences.





WeGov is written and edited by Rebecca Chao, Jessica McKenzie and Antonella Napolitano, in partnership with the engine room and with assistance from Micah L. Sifry. The WeGov advisory board includes Sunil Abraham, Dominic Campbell, Susan Crawford, Beth Noveck, Tiago Peixoto, and Jeffrey Warren.

Personal Democracy Media is thankful to the Omidyar Network and the United Nations Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

WeGov

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, April 15 2014

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. Read More

WeGov

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 15 2014

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.

Read More

WeGov

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 15 2014

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.

Read More

WeGov

Can Crowdfunding Provide Healthcare for the World's Poorest?

BY Federico Guerrini | Monday, April 14 2014

The Watsi Crowdfunding platform allows donations to go straight towards a patient (watsi.org)

Platforms that crowdsource healthcare in developing countries are catching on. But is it a good idea to put the health of others into the hands of the crowd? 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.

Read More

WeGov

China's Crackdown on Online Rumors Escalates with First Public Trial

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 11 2014

Today marks China's first public trial of an online "rumormonger" convicted of spreading false information via China's popular micro-blogging service Weibo. The government's move comes amidst an escalating crackdown on online rumors that began last summer. Read More

WeGov

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 10 2014

Screenshot of Anusha Rehman's profile at www.na.gov.pk

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

Read More

WeGov

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, April 10 2014

Rather than tiny bug-sized dots, this is what activists hope drone operators will now see (notabugsplat.com)

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. Read More

WeGov

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 10 2014

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 9 2014

A screenshot of today's Google Score

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

Read More

WeGov

EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 9 2014

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”

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

WeGov

Why Crowdfunding Won't Change China Anytime Soon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 8 2014

Promotional image for My 17 Gay Friends, a short film crowdfunded in China

Three years after the launch of China's first crowdfunding website in July 2011, the idea is “gradually catching on,” as the Wall Street Journal reported in January. The World Bank estimates the market potential in China by 2025 to be US$46 - $50 billion dollars. Modern China scholar Julian Gewirtz argues in a Tea Leaf Nation post that the crowdfunding trend might even usher in political change in China. However, as crowdfunding is subject to the same constraints as other forms of online media, that is an extremely optimistic assertion.

Read More

WeGov

Emerging Citizen Journalists Live Report on the Afghan Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, April 7 2014

Waiting to vote (credit: Ahmad Shuja)

Eileen Guo, an American entrepreneur in Afghanistan, tells techPresident she often gets asked why she is launching an online citizen journalism project in a county with only a 5 percent Internet penetration rate. Saturday's election, slated to yield one of the country's first democratic transitions to power, provides a strong case in point: the Independent Election Commission has estimated that an overwhelming 7 million turned up at the polls and its chairman Yusuf Nuristani has called it a "sign of the political maturity of the people." That maturity is also revealing itself in Afghanistan's media and online community, which Guo is trying to channel into a citizen journalism project, one that she hopes will counter mainstream media's often one-sided war-torn portrayal of Afghanistan as well as provide a place for civic engagement. 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.

Read More

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

WeGov

How the State Department Plans to Make Humanitarian Crowdmapping Mainstream

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 3 2014

Progress on the mapping of Nimule, South Sudan

The U.S. Department of State has more than 859,000 Twitter followers and more than 518,000 likes on Facebook, and they want to mobilize those million plus followers for the benefit of humanitarian causes around the world.

In early March the State Department launched MapGive, a campaign to educate the masses about crowdmapping: why it is important and how one can help. MapGive, a collaboration between the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) and the Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE), is one of several projects in the third round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program designed to harness the power of crowdsourcing to improve government.

Read More

WeGov

European Parliament Adopts Law to Keep Internet Open

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, April 3 2014

Is all Internet traffic created equal? The European Parliament thinks so, voting on Thursday to adopt a law on net neutrality, which would make it harder for Internet service providers (ISPs) to discriminate against certain types of Internet traffic based on the source. Read More

Wegov News Briefs

RSS Feed 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.

GO

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.

GO

monday >

Can Crowdfunding Provide Healthcare for the World's Poorest?

Platforms that crowdsource healthcare in developing countries are catching on. But is it a good idea to put the health of others into the hands of the crowd? GO

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

friday >

China's Crackdown on Online Rumors Escalates with First Public Trial

Today marks China's first public trial of an online "rumormonger" convicted of spreading false information via China's popular micro-blogging service Weibo. The government's move comes amidst an escalating crackdown on online rumors that began last summer. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

GO

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

GO

[Op-Ed] Tech, Democracy and USAID

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? GO

wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

GO

EU Court Rejects Data Retention Law, But Data Retention Won't End Overnight

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg struck down a data retention law Tuesday that required telecoms to keep customers' communications data for up to two years, declaring it violated privacy rights. However, experts warn that the ruling will have no automatic effect on relevant laws in member states, which could lead to “messy consequences.”

GO

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