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WeGov

An App to Shield Tibetans' Texts From Prying Eyes

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, July 24 2013

Monks protesting with Tibetan flags (image: SFTHQ)

There may finally be a tool Tibetans can more safely use – at less risk of censorship or surveillance – to communicate with each other inside and outside of Tibet. Since YakChat launched in March, the new messenging app has taken Tibetan activists “by storm,” explained Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project, an organization that creates secure, open-source communications software. Around 5,000 Tibetans have since adopted this app, though most of them are outside of Tibet. Read More

WeGov

Civic Hackers Build App to Visualize Votes in Argentina's National Congress

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 24 2013

Screenshot of Década Votada at work

Civic hackers have built an application to help Argentinian citizens and journalists track the voting records of Congress members. The app, called Década votada (A decade in votes), was the winning project at a Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires hackathon in April 2013.

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WeGov

Journalists in Mozambique Have a New Way to Get Help Reporting on Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 19 2013

Screenshot of Citizen Desk's beta version (Sourcefabric.org)

The municipal elections in Mozambique are over four months away but short-staffed newsrooms are already preparing to deal with the persistent conundrum: how do they accurately cover the elections with over 2,500 polling stations to monitor across the country? A new tool called Citizen Desk allows newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections. Read More

WeGov

Kenya Launches a Revamped Website to File Taxes Online

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, July 16 2013

A screenshot of Kenya's new online tax filing system

As of July 1, a Kenyan had two options to file taxes: drive to a local banking hall and wait in a long line or submit them through a clunky website that often experienced delays in filing. But on the first of this month, Kenya’s Revenue Authority (KRA) rolled out a new online tax-filing platform called iTax. It was built in partnership with UBA Kenya Bank and according to the KRA, significantly improves upon its old system, KRA Online. Read More

WeGov

Two Mobile Birth Registration Programs Piloted in Senegal and Uganda

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 15 2013

The web application for mobile birth registration in Uganda (image: GSMA)

A recent study by GSMA revealed promising results of two mobile birth registration initiatives piloted in Uganda and Senegal. Birth registration, often a prerequisite for school enrollment and access to health services, are persistently low in Central and West Africa – 39 percent on average. In Senegal and Uganda, the rates are 55 and 21 percent, respectively, according to national Demographic and Health surveys. Read More

WeGov

The Five Star Movement Launches an Electronic Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

A screenshot of the electronic parliament platform (image: http://www.parlamento5stelle.com/)

On July 10, the Five Star Movement (M5S) introduced its long awaited "electronic parliament" platform, Five Star Parliament, which allows citizens to vote, comment and even write pieces of legislation. M5S is an anti-government political party led by former comedian Beppe Grillo. They put out the site just weeks after 15 members of the Italian parliament had launched their own, Tu Parlamento. Five Star Parliament is currently available only to those living in Lazio but will soon launch in Lombardy and Sicily, then nationally. Read More

WeGov

Jhatkaa: Getting India to 'Shake Up'

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

Deepa Gupta, founder of Jhatkaa, discusses her vision for the project in a campaign video. (Jhatkaa.org)

Urinating into an empty dam to fill it, using late-night television as a contraceptive and suggesting Valentine's Day causes rape are a few of the public comments made by Indian politicians, as voiced by frustrated Indian citizens in Jhatkaa’s campaign video. Jhatkaa, which means “to shake up,” is a new civic startup pioneered by Deepa Gupta, a young Indian campaigner. Read More

WeGov

Mixed Messages From Iran On Internet Access

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 8 2013

A week after Iran's minister for communications and information technology told the media the country slowed down the Internet before the presidential election on June 14, the president-elect Hassan Rouhani announced he would reduce online censorship. The mixed messages come along with news or at least rumor of a speedy – and easily restricted – “national Internet.”

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WeGov

Tu Parlamento: Italy Launches Platform to Give Citizens a Digital Seat in Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, June 27 2013

The platform aims to get citizens more involved in policy making (image: tuparlamento.it)

Last week, without much fanfare or publicity, 15 members of the Italian Parliament launched Tu Parlamento, a Liquid Feedback platform that allows Italian citizens to comment on proposed bills. it is an initiative led by Laura Puppato, a senator of the Democratic Party. Read More

WeGov

Twitris: Taking Crisis Mapping to the Next Level

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, June 24 2013

Twitris – the techy marriage of “Twitter” and “Tetris” – is a platform that aims to help civil society win the “game” of big data, creating layers and layers of analysis that provides a holistic picture of an event. Read More

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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monday >

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.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

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