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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

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 22 2014

Imagine if you could be unmasked on the Internet at any moment. (Flickr/Fibonacci Blue)

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.

Read More

WeGov

Founder Durov On Being Ousted From "Russian Facebook": "Some of What We Managed Is Already Impossible to Undo"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 22 2014

Screenshot of Durov's VK account

On Monday Pavel Durov, the founder of “Russian Facebook” VKontakte, announced that he was fired—and that he learned of the dismissal from the news media.

Read More

WeGov

State of the App in Fighting Sexual Harassment

BY Tin Geber | Tuesday, April 22 2014

A woman in Cairo holds a sign that reads: I wish I could walk around without being hurt by inappropriate words (UN Women/flickr)

There is little doubt that sexual harassment represents a cultural and social pandemic. Verbal and physical assaults are disturbingly commonplace, and despite widespread social campaigns, show little signs of abetting. So it’s not surprising that policy makers and advocacy groups are turning to technology, hoping that data and mobile apps can play a role in stemming incidents of sexual harassment and violence, maybe even addressing cultural patterns and social norms.

Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: Data Speaks Louder than Words

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, April 21 2014

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

WeGov

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 21 2014

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.

Read More

WeGov

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 21 2014

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.

Read More

WeGov

England's Care.data Fiasco: Open Government Data Done Wrong

BY Wendy M. Grossman | Monday, April 21 2014

Screengrab from Paul Bernal's parody of the "Downfall" video

Given the power to open up access to public health data in legislation passed in 2012, the governing health authority ordered care.data into being at the end of 2013, and distributed information leaflets in January 2014. Unfortunately, the process has been confused by conflicting promises of protecting personal information and expanding commercial access. The resulting furor, which has seen the program delayed for six months for a rethink, has seriously damaged public trust in how the English National Health Service (NHS) intends to manage the country's medical data. Wendy M. Grossman explains what went wrong. Read More

WeGov

The People's "Marsad" for the Tunisian Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 18 2014

Parliament in session (credit: Al Bawsala)

In Arabic, "marsad" means observatory, but in Tunisia citizens also know it as the name of the interactive website, created by activist Amira Yahyaoui, that tracks and provides updates on all the activities of the Tunisian Parliament, the National Constituent Assembly. The nonpartisan team behind Marsad sits in all of the Assembly's sessions and posts meeting minutes and discussions of bills, as well as a record of who votes for each bill. With no other resource like it being provided by the government, and an inventory now of 519 documents, Marsad has become an essential tool in Tunisia for journalists, activists and even Members of Parliament. Read More

WeGov

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 17 2014

Screenshot of the tax directory. Those empty spaces mean no taxes were paid.

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.

Read More

WeGov

In Russia, a Proposal to Store User Data on Russian Soil Will "Throttle Expression," Activists Say

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, April 17 2014

Facebook's first built-from-scratch data center. The company recently opened one In Sweden (Photo: Intel Free Press/Flickr)

Alexey Lisovenko, a member of the Moscow City Council, who has recently proposed that all personal data of Russians from all social media sites should be housed in servers located on Russian soil. He says it is to protect the Russian people from NSA spying but activists say the move would only allow Russia to better control online expression. Read More

WeGov

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

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

Mark Zuckerberg (Brian Solis)

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.

Read More

WeGov

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

2006 story in the Toronto Star (Hossein Derakhshan)

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.

Read More

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 News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

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.

GO

State of the App in Fighting Sexual Harassment

There is little doubt that sexual harassment represents a cultural and social pandemic. Verbal and physical assaults are disturbingly commonplace, and despite widespread social campaigns, show little signs of abetting. So it’s not surprising that policy makers and advocacy groups are turning to technology, hoping that data and mobile apps can play a role in stemming incidents of sexual harassment and violence, maybe even addressing cultural patterns and social norms.

GO

monday >

Weekly Readings: Data Speaks Louder than Words

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

GO

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.

GO

England's Care.data Fiasco: Open Government Data Done Wrong

Given the power to open up access to public health data in legislation passed in 2012, the governing health authority ordered care.data into being at the end of 2013, and distributed information leaflets in January 2014. Unfortunately, the process has been confused by conflicting promises of protecting personal information and expanding commercial access. The resulting furor, which has seen the program delayed for six months for a rethink, has seriously damaged public trust in how the English National Health Service (NHS) intends to manage the country's medical data. Wendy M. Grossman explains what went wrong. GO

friday >

The People's "Marsad" for the Tunisian Parliament

In Arabic, "marsad" means observatory, but in Tunisia citizens also know it as the name of the interactive website, created by activist Amira Yahyaoui, that tracks and provides updates on all the activities of the Tunisian Parliament, the National Constituent Assembly. The nonpartisan team behind Marsad sits in all of the Assembly's sessions and posts meeting minutes and discussions of bills, as well as a record of who votes for each bill. With no other resource like it being provided by the government, and an inventory now of 519 documents, Marsad has become an essential tool in Tunisia for journalists, activists and even Members of Parliament. GO

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.

GO

In Russia, a Proposal to Store User Data on Russian Soil Will "Throttle Expression," Activists Say

Alexey Lisovenko, a member of the Moscow City Council, who has recently proposed that all personal data of Russians from all social media sites should be housed in servers located on Russian soil. He says it is to protect the Russian people from NSA spying but activists say the move would only allow Russia to better control online expression. GO

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.

GO

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.

GO

More