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Change.gov is Back Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 30 2013

Change.gov, a relic of President Barack Obama's first term which listed promised new directions for the federal government, is back online. It had been inaccessible for several days, prompting transparency advocates to observe that with it went a record of the Obama administration's promises on openness and to bolster protection of whistleblowers. Read More

What "We the People" Petitions Say About the Country

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, July 9 2013

Developers are beginning to make use of information included in the White House's API for online petitions. Read More

Habemus ... Gene Sperling On Reddit

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, March 13 2013

The news hoopla surrounding the new pope did not prevent Gene Sperling, assistant to the president for economic policy, from answering some of the questions posed to him on the social news site Reddit Wednesday afternoon. Read More

The White House Wants Civic Hackers for New Round of Presidential Innovation Fellowship

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 12 2013

There are five days left to apply for the second round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which will continue work on projects from last year's first round and work to develop new projects. The program is geared towards innovators and entrepreneurs from the private sector, non-profits and academia who are interested in working on government projects that take an innovative approach to promoting job creation, saving lives and saving taxpayer money. Read More

Obama's "Jedi Mind Meld" Is Now a Thing

BY Nick Judd | Friday, March 1 2013

President Barack Obama's new media team knows the first rule of Internet fame: When you make a mistake, double down. The president bungled his sci-fi fundamentals Friday by referring to a "Jedi mind meld," ably explained by the Wall Street Journal's Barbara Chai as a conflation of Star Wars' "Jedi mind trick" and Star Trek's "Vulcan mind meld." White House new media has wasted no time in turning the gaffe into a messaging opportunity. Read More

Check Out This Cool Thing the White House Is Testing For #SOTU

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, February 12 2013

The director of the White House Office of Digital Strategy, Macon Phillips, is asking folks on Twitter to kick the tires on this tool that looks like it will allow people to offer feedback on any sentence from President Barack Obama's speech tonight with a click of the mouse. Read More

Obama to Do a "Hangout" After State of the Union

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, February 11 2013

President Barack Obama will participate in a Google Hangout this Thursday to discuss the State of the Union. His appearance follows recent discussions with Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke recently on gun policy and Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, who discussed immigration reform. Read More

White House Announces a Major Upgrade to "We the People" Petition Site

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, February 5 2013

A just-announced upgrade to the White House's online petitioning site means that developers will soon be able to build applications that display information about petitions, signatures, and responses. When the White House releases its write API, organizations like SignOn.org or Change.org will likely be able to collect and submit signatures to a White House petition from their own websites — potentially keeping copies of the email addresses for themselves. Read More

In Google Hangout, Biden Confronts Critics, Coaches Silicon Valley on Gun Advocacy

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, January 24 2013

Shades of Silicon Valley's nascent political activism and the White House's full-bore use of the Internet in its own public engagement efforts were on display Thursday in a "Fireside" Google hangout with Vice President Joe Biden, venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, and PBS Newshour's Hari Sreenivasan. 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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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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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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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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