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First POST: Tipping Points

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, April 16 2014

Mike Bloomberg puts some more muscle into his gun control campaigning; Mark Zuckerberg now likes multiple identities; Airbnb wishes it could collect taxes in New York State; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: In Transit

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, April 11 2014

Today's Polk Awards ceremony in NYC marks Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras's first visit back to the US since Snowden; Healthcare.gov's chief resigns; the DATA Act heads towards Obama's desk; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Secret Sharers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 27 2014

Jimmy Carter on Edward Snowden; Airbnb partners with Portland as a "shared city"; open data engagement strategies from around the world; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

Nigeria Gets Its First Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

Since 2010, Edo State in Nigeria has set a day aside dedicated to technology and the state. The 2013 Edo State TechDay kicked off today, September 12, with the theme “Fostering Governance with Technology.” At the event (which has grown into a two day affair) Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole revealed Nigeria's first Open Data Portal.

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WeGov

New Russian Law Makes Publication of Information on Gay Rights Illegal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 12 2013

Would this constitute "gay propaganda"? (Wikipedia)

On June 11 the Russian parliament passed a bill against “homosexual propaganda” that effectively outlaws gay rights rallies and bans informational or pro-gay rights material from publication in the media or on the Internet. Violators of the law will risk heavy fines and censorship and, in the case of a media outlet, risk being shut down. It had near unanimous support, passing in a 436-to-0 vote, with only one abstention.

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WeGov

Macedonia Draft Law to Regulate and Restrict the "Last Arena for Freedom of Speech"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 12 2013

Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, (Wikipedia)

The draft of a media regulation law in Macedonia has journalists and press freedom watchdogs up in arms. The proposed Law on Media and Audiovisual Media Services was written by the government behind closed doors and without input from the media or NGOs. It has been interpreted as a decisive move on the part of the government to limit speech online in a country where press freedoms are already limited. Until now, Internet-based news sites were not regulated like print media.

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WeGov

New Anti-Corruption Initiative a First in Czech Republic

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 31 2013

Pavel Franc and others wearing symbolic hard hats (Flickr with permission)

For the first time in the Czech Republic, a group of NGOs have banded together to support nine important anti-corruption measures. They are asking Czech citizens – again, for the first time – to write to their representative Members of Parliament (MPs) and ask them to pledge support for specific anti-corruption legislation. The campaign Rekonstrukce Státu, or the Reconstruction of State, holds MPs responsible for their pledges by posting their positions on the campaign website. One of the demands has already been made into law.

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WeGov

Chinese Netizens Use Digital Initiative to Gain Media Attention for Unsolved Poisoning Case

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 15 2013

Screen shot of the signatures on the Chinese netizens' petition to the Obama administration

Last month a medical science student at a Shanghai university died from poisoning, allegedly murdered by his roommate. The specifics of the crime echoed a case from the mid-1990s, in which a 19-year-old student was poisoned with thallium. That case has once again been thrown into the media spotlight, but after 18 years the media has changed and the spotlight means a trending hashtag on Sina Weibo or an online petition to the U.S. President.

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WeGov

Tools to Keep Independent Media Online in Hostile Environments

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 14 2013

Websites and media outlets in developing countries or countries with corrupt or repressive regimes struggle daily to fend off hacker attacks, some from their own government — like the Malaysian news portal Sarawak Report, which techPresident reported was taken down in April by sustained denial-of-service attacks. The negative attention controversial reporting draws can scare local advertisers away as well, making it difficult for a media company to support itself. Media Frontiers offers two services to websites dealing with either of those problems.

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WeGov

Peruvians Petition their President to Stick Up for their Digital Rights

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 13 2013

Lima, Peru (Federico via Wikipedia)

Peru’s civil society advocacy groups have started an online petition outlining their ‘non-negotiable’ demands for digital rights and freedom of speech. The campaign was prompted by the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Lima, Peru, will soon host the 17th round of secretive TPP trade talks, which will take place from May 15 – 24.

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News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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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