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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

After NETmundial, Multistakeholder Statement Criticized as "Weak, Toothless...Sterile"

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, April 29 2014

A peaceful protest during NETmundial (photo by Camille François/Twitter)

While Netmundial did advance some important issues, such as recognizing the Internet as a global resource and the right to development as enabled by the Internet, the culmination of the conference, with the drafting of the Multistakeholder Statement did not live up to the expectations of many attendees, especially the members of civil society who had come to address issues like privacy, net neutrality and the future of Internet governance. At issue was the conference's multistakeholder approach, which sought to include the voices of thousands of those from government, academia, the private sector, civil society and the technical community, but failed to address power imbalances which gave some voices more weight, even disproportionately, one might argue. Read More

WeGov

This Chrome Extension Rates Tweets Based On Their Credibility

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 28 2014

An alethiometer (bandita/Flickr)

On April Fool's Day you can't believe anything you read on the Internet. And on the other 364 days of the year you still have to use reason and common sense to avoid falling for or even spreading online rumors. Misinformation can be particularly damaging during natural disasters or other social crises if it impedes or misleads emergency response. Journalists also have to be wary of retweeting or reposting unverified information. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way of gauging how credible a tweet may be? Well, the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and the Precog Research Group at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIITD) are collaborating on a tool that aims to do just that.

Read More

WeGov

Weekly Readings: Off-Grid

BY Antonella Napolitano and Rebecca Chao | Monday, April 28 2014

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

WeGov

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 24 2014

The new BBC series Sherlock is a popular subject for dan mei (Wikipedia)

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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WeGov

In China, An Open Data Movement is Starting to Take Off

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, April 24 2014

Chinese students demanding better Internet. How long till citizens ask for better access to data? (chichiochoi/flickr)

About eight months ago when techPresident first wrote about the state of open data in China, there were only three non-user friendly government open data sites and a smattering of open data enthusiasts who often had to find their own data sources and even create hardware to generate their own data. They were not a formally connected group but rather, individuals who created open data apps out of personal interest. Now, the recently launched Open Data Community is trying to create a multi-disciplinary network of businesses, research institutes, and NGOs interested in open data. Read More

WeGov

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 23 2014

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. Read More

WeGov

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, April 23 2014

The People's Front Against Europe (Sebastian Jabbusch, creative commons 4.0)

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. Read More

WeGov

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, April 23 2014

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. Read More

WeGov

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 23 2014

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

Read More

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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