In today's edition, we reaffirm our commitment to Net Neutrality, the Trump administration makes claims about their transparency that they probably can't back up, Brazil continues to deal with corruption issues, and politicians are preparing for a number of big money gubernatorial races next year.
Why we support net neutrality
Over the years, Sunlight has been a public interest advocate for public understanding of rulemaking processes and has analyzed public comments regarding proposed net neutrality rules submitted to the Federal Communications Commission to inform the public. In 2015, we went a step beyond analysis to direct advocacy, making our position clear: net neutrality is essential for a healthy democracy.
We urge Congress, the FCC and President Donald J. Trump to not only reaffirm the role of an open Internet in American life but to take meaningful steps to improve the state of identity, safety, privacy and oversight of the companies that provide public access to this public good.
- 45 mayors speak out against White House net neutrality plans. Sunlight's Stephen Larrick added his support saying, "We believe the internet is a powerful force for democratic good and that the ecosystem that can bring about that democratic good depends on an open internet…And we're really heartened to see that cities as an institution, in a time when federal institutions are increasingly messaging an uncertain future of democracy, are taking a strong stance toward supporting the preconditions for a modern and effective 21st century democracy that is transparent, accountable and participatory in all the ways the open internet allows." (StateScoop)
- Eliminating Title II has big implications for consumer protection. "Either way, what's almost certain is that the FCC will eliminate the Title II classification of Internet service providers. And that would have important effects on consumer protection that go beyond the core net neutrality rules that outlaw blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization." (Ars Technica)
states and cities
- New open data hub targets less tech-savvy citizens. "Launched Monday by the global GIS mapping software giant Esri, ArcGIS Hub is an online platform that clusters datasets around specific citywide initiatives, in the hope that people can more readily tap into information applicable to their lives." (CityLab)
- Crowded, expensive gubernatorial races on the agenda for 2018. "Eight years after a wave of new Republican governors took office, term limits and pent-up political ambition have conspired to create crowded — and costly — battles to run some of the largest states in the country." As Reid Wilson reports, "The rash of new candidates is unlike anything political observers have seen. Many attribute the rush of gubernatorial hopefuls to the unusually large number of open seats…" (The Hill)
- Mapping disasters to help devastated communities. "[Meredith] Beers and her colleagues at SBP, a nonprofit that specializes in rebuilding homes after disasters, are experimenting with a digital mapping technique that allows them to assess the damage to each home and cross that information with data about insurance and federal financial assistance." (Government Technology)
- Baltimore searches for a "visionary" CIO as latest acting leader resigns. "Evette M. Munro, who was elevated in late February from deputy CIO in the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Information Technology (MOIT) to acting department head, has resigned her position after less than five months…he follows former CIO Jerome Mullen — who was the city’s third CIO to leave in five years when he resigned in late February — out the door." Meanwhile, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is undertaking a nationwide search for a new CIO, assisted by Bloomberg Philanthropies according to Anthony McCarthy, director of communications and community engagement . (Government Technology)
around the world
- Former Brazilian president sentenced in corruption scandal. "Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sentenced Wednesday to 9 ½ years in prison for his role in a massive corruption scandal, marking a remarkable turnaround for a political figure who less than two decades ago was being hailed as the architect of modern Brazil." (The Atlantic)
- Meanwhile, current President Temer appears to have votes to avoid corruption trial. "The request to try Temer is expected to be up for both a lower house committee and a floor vote as early as this week. Counting only six of the eleven main parties in the president’s governing coalition, he would have backing from 203 lawmakers, more than the 172 needed to prevent a trial." He may still face a second round of charges. (Bloomberg)
- Opening up access to India's laws. "India seems to fare reasonably well on ‘open data’ and ‘open government’ indicators. However its abysmal record with respect to enforcement of rights and its civil and criminal justice systems points towards an inability to use this information meaningfully and for the purpose of actual legal empowerment. Nyaaya, a new legal tech organization in India, is attempting to make an intervention by applying standard legislative markup tools for the first time in the country and by developing plain language explainers and guides." (Open Knowledge)
- Aggressive transparency as a negotiating strategy. Glyn Moody at TechDirt shares details on a new report from UK based think tank the Institute for Government that argues aggressive transparency can be used to gain advantage in high level political negotiations. The report contrasts the EU's open approach to Brexit negotiations with Britain's close-mouthed stance.
- How Microsoft's default font could bring down Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. "Sharif contends that neither he, nor his family, profited from his position of power, a denial that came under scrutiny today after his daughter and political heir apparent, Maryam Nawaz, produced documents from 2006 that prove her father’s innocence. Unfortunately for the Nawaz family, type experts today confirmed the documents were written in Calibri, a font that wasn’t available until 2007." (The Next Web)
- Canada is releasing quarterly reports on its open government process. "As a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Government of Canada is required to track our progress on commitments in the Third Biennial Plan at the mid-point and end-point through self-assessment reports. But we felt there may be opportunities to make our reporting more timely and comprehensive for you. Our hope is that by proactively providing timely information on our progress, we can more effectively generate engagement and identify any necessary course corrections earlier in the implementation period." (Open Gov Canada) We would love it if the White House released reports on open government progress or their plans for the Open Government Partnership.
- Is the White House 'as transparent as humanly possible'? "On a day in which the president's schedule included no public events and the daily briefing was once again held off camera, principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared that the White House aims to be 'as transparent as humanly possible.'" (POLITICO) We judge that statement to be wholly false. A White House that was "as transparent as possible" would disclose visitor logs, calendars, ethics waivers, the identity of landing teams, the president's taxes, & livestream press briefings, among other things.
- Trump and his team have frequently said that they had no contact with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. The New York Times has more in this video.
- FBI nominee appears before Senate Judiciary Committee, pledges independence. "Christopher Wray, President Trump's nominee to head the FBI, faced questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Wray pledged to lawmakers that he would be an independent leader of the FBI." (NPR)
save the dates
- July 10th through 24th: e-Forum Discussion on the Agriculture Open Data Package, virtual. "The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) are inviting interested individuals to participate in this forum discussion on 'Agriculture Open Data Package' to be held on the e-Agriculture Platform. The initial target audience for this forum are policy-makers, researchers, open data experts, and/or agricultural experts – however, any one interested is invited to attend." Learn more about the forum and how to participate here.
- July 19th, 5:30 PM EST. Book Discussion: When Your Job Wants You To Lie in Washington, DC. "Join us for a discussion that will help us deal with the kinds of situations we all encounter. Presented by the American Society for Public Administration, National Capital Area Chapter (ASPA NCAC). Refreshments start 5:30, and the discussion starts 6:00. Space is limited, so you must RSVP in advance." Learn more and RSVP here.
- July 27th, 10 am: Chief FOIA Officers Council Meeting in Washington, DC. "OGIS and the Department of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice are happy to announce that the next meeting of the Chief FOIA Officers Council will be held on Thursday, July 27th from 10 am to noon. You can register to join the audience in the William G. McGowan Theater beginning on July 26. You can also plan on watching the livestream via the National Archives’ YouTube Channel."
- August 1st: DKAN Summit in Washington, DC. Part of Drupal GovCon 2017, the DKAN Open Data Summit will feature open data leaders discussing how DKAN can be used to facilitate government open data efforts. Learn more and register here.
- September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here.
- September 13th: Civic and Gov Tech Showcase in San Jose, California. "Innovate Your State, in partnership with Microsoft and the City of San Jose, is bringing the 3nd Annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase to the Capitol of Silicon Valley. The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect with civic minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government leaders to showcase the great work that is being done to improve government and governance. The goal of the event is to encourage collaboration and the support of new technologies to improve government and public participation." Learn more and get your tickets here.
- September 14th – 16th: Digital Humanities and Data Journalism Symposium, in Miami, Florida. "Digital humanists and data journalists face common challenges, opportunities, and goals, such as how to communicate effectively with the public. They use similar software tools, programming languages, and techniques, and they can learn from each other. Join us for lectures and tutorials about shared data types, visualization methods, and data communication — including text visualization, network diagrams, maps, databases and data wrangling. In addition to the scheduled content, there will be opportunities for casual conversation and networking." Learn more and register here.
- September 28th: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information, Paris, France. "The 'IPDCtalks' will be held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It will consist of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, top journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. While some of the speakers will elaborate on the key role of Access to Information for the achievement of a particular Sustainable Development Goal, others will reflect on the essential role of Access to Information for our society and future." You can learn more and request an invitation on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.
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