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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

Citizen Journalists Take On Rape And Domestic Violence

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, December 3 2013

ALMOST anyone can report through CGNet Swara (Flickr/sarahamina)

In August I wrote about a citizen journalism project in India called CGNet Swara, which residents of the central Indian state Chhattisgarh were using as a kind of government watchdog/accountability site. Since then, reports per day have nearly doubled, up to 400 a day, and a Global Post story highlights how the tool is being used by women to combat rampant rape and domestic violence.

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WeGov

Putting the International Spotlight on Killer Robots

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, December 3 2013

Campaigning in London to create a worldwide ban on killer robots (image: Stop Killer Robots/flickr)

Imagine an unmanned robot surveying enemy land and deciding, based on algorithms rather than human control, when it should and shouldn't drop a bomb or release a cascade of bullets. These "killer robots," once a topic restricted to an elite group of scientists, military analysts and visionary science writers has now reached a global audience through the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a movement that, very strikingly, seeks to preemptively ban them. Most weapons bans are reactive, taking place after it has exacted a massive toll. Read More

WeGov

2013 Corruption Perception Index Is In And It's Not Pretty

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, December 3 2013

"Complaint box for corruption." (Flickr/watchsmart)

Transparency International just released their Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, and the prognosis is not looking good. Of the 177 ranked countries, more than two-thirds scored less than 50 out of a max score of 100. Not a one got a perfect score, with Denmark and New Zealand tying for first with scores of 91. On the other end of the spectrum, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia squeaked out measly eights.

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WeGov

From Flags to Tags? Euromaidan Might Be a New Revolution, But Not a Twitter One

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, December 2 2013

Euromaidan Protest Kiev - December 1, 2012 /Photo by Nessa.Gnatoush (CC BY 2.0)

Nine years after the Orange Revolution, the citizens of Ukraine are taking to the streets again, this time to protest against a government u-turn in the EU integration process, which some attribute to pressure from Russia to maintain their trade relations. While the protest has a hashtag, it hasn't been reduced to being labeled a Twitter revolution. This time, social media's role is less about organizing and more about providing a free flow of information about the protest in a country that seems to have stepped back in media freedom. Read More

WeGov

Internet Giants Like Google Take On New Roles In Indian Elections

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, December 2 2013

Last week Google India launched an online portal for all things election-related. The portal is meant to educate voters about the electoral process and provide information about political parties and candidates. A press release describes it as a “one stop destination” to help voters make an informed decision.

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WeGov

Egyptian Authorities Extend Detainment of Prominent Activist and Blogger

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, December 2 2013

Alaa Abd El Fattah speaking at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum

On the night of November 28, well-known Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested by Egyptian security forces for his involvement in a demonstration against a new law meant to repress political protests. Fattah and fellow activist Ahmad Maher were arrested for allegedly organizing the demonstration without the requisite three day advance notice to the Interior Ministry, a stipulation of the new law they were protesting. On December 1, a prosecutor ordered the release of Ahmed Maher, but renewed Alaa Abd El Fattah's detention for 15 days.

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WeGov

Drones Provide New Perspective in Coverage of Thai Protests

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 27 2013

Between 100,000 and 440,000 demonstrators swarmed Democracy Monument earlier this week. (Wikipedia)

Throngs of Thai demonstrators have flooded the streets of Bangkok and forced the closure of five government ministries in their attempt to “overthrow” their government, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Two English language news sources—The Nation and The Bangkok Post—have gotten a new perspective on the current political upheaval. Their coverage of the demonstrations is accompanied by sweeping photographs taken from drones.

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WeGov

After "Recognizing" Kosovo, Facebook Denies Political Agency

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 26 2013

Until 2008 Kosovo didn't have its own flag. Now it also has Facebook status. (matt.lutton/flickr)

After Facebook finally listed Kosovo as its own country, rather than lumping it together with Serbia, from which it declared independence more than five years ago, the Kosovo Minister of European Integration, Vlora Citaku, tweeted that Facebook “recognizes” Kosovo as a state, and tagged her comment #digitaldiplomacy. When Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reached out to Facebook for comment, however, the company was quick to distance itself from any political agency that it might be ascribed.

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WeGov

Philippines Gov't Launches Portal To Transparently Handle Foreign Aid

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 25 2013

Hygiene kits and water in the Philippines (Flickr/U.S. Embassy in Manila)

Foreign funds are flooding into the Philippines in the wake of Super-typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda. Three days ago the World Bank increased its aid package to nearly US$1 billion. The Asian Development Bank will provide up to US$523 million in assistance. To ensure the funds are used in a responsible manner, the Philippines Department of Budget and Management launched the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, or FAiTH.

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WeGov

Global Web Index Points to Social Media's Political Power But Shows Risks of Online Surveillance and Unequal Access

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, November 22 2013

(Web Foundation)

A new Web Index released by the World Wide Web Foundation finds that Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States rank highest in a measure of how the web contributes to development and the fulfillment of basic human rights and spurs political mobilization in 81 countries, but raises concerns about the growing risks of state surveillance and unequal online access to information online. Read More

WeGov

In Tanzania, MOOCs Seen as "Too Western"

BY Amanda Sperber | Friday, November 22 2013

A primary school in Arusha, Tanzania (Chris Gansen/flickr)

For many low income countries around the world, including Tanzania, MOOCs are being hailed as digital salvation, bringing “elite” education to the masses. But for some in Tanzania, MOOCs are seen as overly Western, inaccessible to those who do not speak English and unable to address some fundamental problems with education in Tanzania. Read More

WeGov

Study Says Social Movements "Should Never Be Called a Twitter or Facebook Revolution"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, November 22 2013

A report on Digital Activism and Non-Violent Conflict was released this month by the Digital Activism Research Project. It found that the role of hacking and cybercrime in digital activism is grossly overstated by the media and that Facebook and Twitter are the leading platforms for activism on a global scale, but that other tools do well on a smaller, regional scale. The study found no causation or correlation between specific tools and positive outcomes.

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WeGov

Japanese Chat Service Builds In Censorship for China-Based Users

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 21 2013

Screenshot of the Citizen Lab's list of censored phrases

Some users of the popular chat application LINE get a custom version of the program, complete with built-in keyword censorship. If someone sets their country location to China during installation, the app downloads a list of censored words from LINE's host server and then any messages containing censored words is blocked. The findings are part of a report by The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, the first of a series on Asian chat and instant messaging applications.

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WeGov

Civic Monitoring Group Raises Concerns About Bosnia's First Post-War Census

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, November 20 2013

Popis Monitor on the street with their awarness campaigns (image: Popis Monitor)

A census usually tells a country what it looks like and how it has changed but in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country still simmering with divisions amongst its ethnic groups, it has rekindled tensions over national identity. The 2013 census – the first after a 22-year hiatus – took place last month. While international institutions praised the overdue survey, a requirement for entry into the E.U., and have given Bosnia a satisfactory review of its census procedures, activists from Popis Monitor, a citizen-based monitoring project, claimed that the process was compromised by a failure of the government to inform citizens about the census, particularly on questions of religion and ethnicity, as well as several irregularities during the census collection.

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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

A Bit of Hypocrisy From Ecuador On Internet Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 20 2013

President Rafael Correa (Wikipedia)

Proposed changes to Ecuador's Criminal Code threaten Internet users privacy, security, and possibly even access, reports the digital freedom activist group Access. Among the changes is the provision that Internet service providers (ISPs) must retain records of Internet activity for up to six months. This change would be at odds with the Ecuadorean Constitution, which prohibits arbitrary retention of communications online and off. Another provision would require cybercafes to videotape their patrons. Aside from violating user privacy, this requirement would be prohibitive to small ma and pop establishments, which might close if the owners are unable to afford cameras and data storage equipment.

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WeGov

Iran's Foreign Minister Talks Free Will, Dignity, Standing Your Ground on YouTube

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 19 2013

“Imagine being told that you cannot do what everyone else is doing, what everyone else is allowed to do. Will you back down? Would you relent? Or would you stand your ground.”

These are some of the opening questions from Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a message on the “unnecessary crisis” over nuclear energy, which was posted on YouTube today.

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WeGov

Social Change Is What Happens When You're Busy Making Other Plans

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 19 2013

Cover image courtesy of Ken Banks

During his time as a fellow at Stanford University in 2007, Ken Banks noticed a growing number of students going to school to study social innovation and social entrepreneurship. “Then they leave the gates of the building and go 'Right, what can I fix?'”

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WeGov

Nigeria's Push to Legalize Wiretapping and Internet Surveillance Will Likely Succeed

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 18 2013

Normalizing surveillance under guise of safety (Flickr/abrinsky)

It seems as though Nigeria is using scare tactics to push through an Orwellian bill legalizing an extensive surveillance system. The proposed wiretap program would allow law enforcement and security agencies to monitor and track both phone and Internet communications.

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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