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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

No Internet For You! In North Korea, A Small Elite Accesses Limited Online Content

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, December 11 2012

Screengrab of Naenara, North Korea's state-sanctioned Internet portal

Though North Korea remains as isolated as ever from the technological community (as TechPresident wrote last year,it was a full 48 hours after the death of Kim Jong-Il before the news broke on Twitter), the Internet is a temptation both for the country’s citizens and for the government of Kim Jong-Un, as the BBC reports. Read More

WeGov

Russia Advocates State Regulation of the Web, Then Pulls Back

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, December 11 2012

WCIT 2012 panel (credit: Flickr/ITU Pictures)

A Russian-led proposal intended to give world governments regulatory power over the Internet has been effectively withdrawn, says the International Telecommunications Union. The plan was presented at the UN World Conference on International Telecommunications, held in Dubai this past week, where members of the ITU are renegotiating an upgrade its 1988 communications treaty. Read More

WeGov

With YouTube Blocked, Iran Offers State Sanctioned Online Video Alternative

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, December 10 2012

Logo for Mehr.Ir

After restricting nationwide access to Gmail and Google Search earlier this fall, Iran has put forward a new effort against the Internet conglomerate’s YouTube arm, in the form of a state-sanctioned online video provider operated by the IRIB(Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Service). Read More

WeGov

D.C.-based NGO Asks the Crowd to Map an Israel-Palestine Border

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, December 10 2012

Screenshot from Is Peace Possible.

A Washington, D.C.-based NGO has launched a interactive map called Is Peace Possible that seeks suggestions for a border between Israel and the West Bank via crowdsourcing. Read More

WeGov

Hacking Some Transparency into the Secretive Corridors of the EU Lobbying System

BY Jon Worth | Friday, December 7 2012

At a recent London hackathon organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation, participants looked for ways to make the European Union's complex lobbying system more transparent. Read More

WeGov

After 3-Day Internet Shutdown, Syria's Regime is Now Targeting Activists with Powerful New Malware

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, December 6 2012

When the Syrian Internet system was cut off last week, observers feared the regime had cut the civilian population off for good so that the army could do its worst without having to worry about activists filming massacres and uploading the footage to YouTube. In fact the Internet was restored after three days. But now the regime is using powerful new malware to target activists. Read More

WeGov

Phone Apps for Toilets: Hackathon Mobilizes Techies for Hygiene Solutions

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, December 6 2012

Last weekend the International Sanitation Hackathon took place simultaneously in 40 cities across the globe, from Vancouver to Jakarta and Helsinki to Porto Alegre. The World Bank-organized event brought together development workers and techies to brainstorm solutions to a problem that confounds the developing world — poor sanitation and waste disposal, which causes disease and raises mortality rates. Read More

WeGov

Newly Discovered Malware Used to Hack Dalai Lama Website

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, December 5 2012

A website associated with the Dalai Lama's YouTube account has been hacked using Dockster, "...a rare piece of Mac malware which can secretly log users' keystrokes," reports Neal Ungerleider for Fast Company. Read More

WeGov

In Canada, Online Campaign to Protest Gov't's Digital 'Snooping Bill' Turns Nasty

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Wednesday, December 5 2012

MP Charmaine Borg outside of Canada's parliament (credit: Max Walker)

In Canada the issue of online privacy has become contentious, with experts, law enforcement officials, and legislators sharply divided. Bill C-30, formally called the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, was tabled in the House of Commons in February. The bill proposes expanding police powers so that telecoms and Internet Service Providers would be required to turn over subscriber data without a warrant. The opposition responded with a furious online campaign that took a bizarre turn into the realm of personal attacks. Read More

WeGov

Sierra Leone Teen Becomes MIT Media Lab's Youngest "Visiting Practitioner"

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, December 3 2012

A video about a boy from Sierra Leone who creates innovative technology solutions with household goods and materials he sources from dumpsters has gone viral, with over 3.5 million views in two weeks. Kelvin Doe, 16, figured out how to make his own batteries out of acid, soda, and metal when he was 13 years old. He also made a generator out of a cast-off voltage stabilizer and built the equipment to start a community FM radio station, which he runs with a team of friends who act as reporters and station managers (Doe goes by the name DJ Focus). He created these things out of necessity — because batteries were too expensive and his family home did not have access to regular electricity. Read More

WeGov

In Egypt, Digital Maps Start a Conversation About Harassment that Continues In the Street

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, November 30 2012

Screenshot from Harassmap.org

Several months before the Egyptian revolution, a group of Cairo-based volunteers launched Harassmap, an Ushahidi-based interactive map that provides a visualization of reported sexual harassment incidents. Two years later, the organization has grown and secured its funding. But what role has mapping played in their community outreach work? Read More

WeGov

Dashboard Government: The Politics of Measurement

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, November 28 2012

The other week I was informed that the city of Edmonton, Alberta, published an online dashboard of various metrics that it hopes will both educate residents about the city's services. As more and more of what governments do — from running buses to fixing potholes to processing paper — is managed by computers, there is an ever-increasing capacity to measure, and make public, the results of any given activity. The opportunity to create more accountable systems and governments is real. If we are going to end up with government dashboards all over the place — and frankly, I hope we do — dashboard-makers had better do a bunch of things right. Read More

WeGov

Pakistan Considering Bill that Would Ban Independent Mapping Projects

BY Nighat Dad | Wednesday, November 28 2012

The government of Pakistan is about to propose a law that would make it illegal for independent bodies to engage in mapping. The Land Surveying and Mapping Bill 2012, proposed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), transfers all mapping authority in Pakistan to Survey of Pakistan (SoP), which reports to the MoD and takes its orders from General Head Quarters (GHQ). Read More

WeGov

Portuguese Activist Blog Shut Down by Google for Defamatory Content

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, November 28 2012

Over the past few days, the Portuguese blog Precários Inflexíveis (Inflexible Precarious Workers) has reportedly been silenced and then blocked by Google. The blog was devoted to exposing the working conditions of freelance workers without permanent contracts: Google allegedly shut the blog down because of a complaint made by BF Grupo after the “precários” accused the company of illegal work and tax evasion”. Read More

WeGov

India's Successful AIDS Prevention Program Threatened by Proliferation of Mobile Phones

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, November 27 2012

Inexpensive mobile phones have brought independence to India's sex workers. Rather than work in brothels, where the madam takes a cut of their fee, they can now deal directly with their customers. But this financial freedom comes with a prices — a steep rise in HIV and AIDS rates. Read More

WeGov

With "Betatext," German Green Party Tries Out Open-Source Politics

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, November 27 2012

(wegewerk)

As Germany gears up for its parliamentary elections in fall 2013, the parliamentary group of the German Green Party has released a tool called betatext to allow supporters to comment on position papers, motions or legislative drafts. "While others only talk about more participation and transparency in the political process -- we implement it," the parliamentary group states. Users of the tool can also see other people's comments and rate them. Read More

WeGov

Following Government Orders, Tajikistan's Telecoms Have Blocked Facebook

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, November 27 2012

Facebook is now totally blocked in Tajikistan. Starting from last week, the Ministry of Communications ordered the country's six mobile service providers and six Internet service providers to block access to the popular social media platform. Read More

WeGov

Reporting from Uzbekistan With a Lens Hidden in Plain Sight

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, November 26 2012

A BBC journalist who recorded interviews with her iPhone and Skype in order to circumvent official restrictions on the media discovered that these tools were so effective in producing broadcast quality content that she no longer needed the bulky conventional equipment, reports Journalism.co.uk. Read More

WeGov

Media Analysts Wonder if Israel and Hamas are Allowed to Issue Death Threats on Twitter

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, November 21 2012

Did official Israeli and Hamas spokespeople violate Twitter's terms of use by using the social media platform to issue threats of violence? Read More

WeGov

In India, Your Facebook Status Could Get You Arrested

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, November 21 2012

Often described as the world's largest democracy, India's legislation on free speech would probably surprise the average American. Vague wording of laws that define defamation issues and hate speech, for example, have affected freedom of expression on the Internet — perhaps most notably, on social media platforms. As the New York Times India edition reports, there have been several cases of otherwise law-abiding citizens being arrested and even jailed for their tweets and status updates. Most recently, two women were arrested for Facebook updates. Read More