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WeGov

Can Do-It-Yourself Biology Change Science or Save a Life?

BY Carola Frediani | Friday, December 13 2013

Taking the lab home. (Credit: Z33 art centre, Hasselt/flickr)

They are rebels with a cause, fighting for open science. Each of them do it in their own way. Still, they all have a common goal: to change the way in which science is practiced, the way its results are distributed and even who gets to participate. It’s a loose movement made up of a new breed of scientists such as the Italian veterinary virologist Ilaria Capua, who challenged the World Health Organization’s policies on sharing data and created a global consortium of scientists who sought to foster international sharing of avian influenza data. Capua’s stand was an act of rebellion against institutional science, a victory for open biology and the start of a new type of scientific research enabled by the Internet and ICT tools, through which international cooperation could be reached by online data sharing. And yes, it was a way of hacking biology.

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Updated Guidelines Encourage Federal Agencies to Publish "License-Free" Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, December 12 2013

A group of open government advocates and advocacy organizations have come together to issue updated guidance on how federal agencies can make their documents available in an open and accessible way, seeking to go beyond and clarify open data guidance that the Obama administration had published in May. Read More

First POST: Intellectuals

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 12 2013

Why you should get off Facebook; where the women tech intellectuals are at; the PCCC gets poked and prodded; NYC's police crime data policy gets stopped and frisked; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Buenos Aires, A Pocket of Civic Innovation in Argentina

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, December 10 2013

Last week, Buenos Aires' Open Government launched an interactive timeline of its 100-year-old subway sytem (Credit: Screenshot)

In only a few years, the government, civil society and media in Buenos Aires have actively embraced open data. The Buenos Aires city government has been publishing data under a creative commons license and encouraging civic innovation through hackathons. NGOs have launched a number of tech-driven tools and Argentina's second largest newspaper, La Nación, has published several hard-hitting data journalism projects. The result is a fledgling but flourishing open data culture in Buenos Aires, in a country that has not yet adopted a freedom of information law. Read More

First POST: Civicus

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, December 4 2013

The nitty-gritty on Knight Foundation's new report on the state of civic tech investment; more from Pierre Omidyar and Jay Rosen on NewCo; waiting for heads to roll over HealthCare.gov; and much, much more. Read More

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

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

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

WeGov

After NSA Scandal, Crop of Whistleblower Communication Tools for Journalists Emerge

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Uncle Sam wants to know (Jeff Schuler/flickr)

Among the many questions raised by the NSA scandal, there is one that is especially worrying for journalists: how to have secure communications with sources given the widespread surveillance of emails, phone calls, chats and browsing activities. How should investigative reporting deal with the technological challenges posed by governments’ mass control of Internet and phone traffic? A number of online platforms have now sprouted across the globe with the mission to protect the anonymity of journalists' sources. Read More

WeGov

Raspberry Pi Tackles the Great Firewall and Peruvian Amazon

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, November 13 2013

The low-cost computer has inspired a number of projects for social good (GijsbertPeijs/flickr)

When Eben Upton created the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card, he had no inkling its reach would extend beyond England’s borders and do more than inspire UK’s youth to program. A little went a long way. Thousands of miles, in fact, to places as far from the UK as China, India and as remote as the Peruvian Amazon. The Raspberry Pi, first conceived by Upton in 2006 and released in February of last year, is produced by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation. Since then, it has sold 1.2 million units worldwide and was named the top 100 most inspiring social tech innovations by the Nominet Trust, which has noted its use in developing countries as a low-budget tool or computer. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed 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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

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.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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