What time is it? It’s not summertime quite yet, but something even better: time for our Reads of The Week!

Every Friday, we share our weekly selection of interesting civic tech reads. If you missed some of our earlier must-read lists, head over to our blog to catch up! But in case you’ve been waiting in agony since Monday morning, let’s dive right in.

“A Warning for Democracy, not a eulogy” by A. Gescinska for The Brussels Times

All across the globe, right-wing parties and populists are on the rise. And now even the Netherlands — world-famous and loved for its values of freedom, tolerance and respect — saw a text-book right-wing party soar to the top of the election charts. That raises the question: is the end of democracy near, or the beginning of the end, at least?

Author Gescinska states that we should be careful not to draw preliminary conclusions about the state of Dutch democracy. In this article, she explains why she believes it’s not too late yet.

This is a must-read if you believe the (political) glass is half-empty (or a satisfying one if you’re an incorrigible optimist), or if you like to stay on top of European politics.

2. “We’re reshaping Buenos Aires into a city that works for women, too” by P. Bisiau for Apolitical

Back in the days, our cities were designed and built by and for men. But now that women are just as much a part of the public sphere, urban spaces and public services haven’t always caught up to their needs. Bisiau, Subsecretary of Sustainable and Safe Mobility of the government of Buenos Aires, believes that it’s important to intervene with active policies. As she states, “struggles against injustices cannot be left to the laissez-faire.”

This is a must-read if you’re passionate about equality, inclusion, empowerment, and the actions cities can take towards these goals.

3. “Rebuilding trust in democracy starts with digital identity verification” by V. Lingham for TNW

How will democracy survive in the digital age? As an entrepreneur, Civic CEO Lingham always dreamed about creating a mobile voting application that would give democracy its rightful place in a digital era. But as it turns out, what truly threatens the survival of democracy in the future is not about voting, but about data collection.

“We’re living in a new world where our personal information is not safe, and it is being used to threaten democracy as we know it,” states Lingham, exploring the impact data collection can have on every layer of the democratic process, all the way up to international relations.

This is a must-read if you’re interested in everything concerning data collection, privacy, and the (digital) future of democracy.

4. “Dissenter and Gab: the controversial platforms with implications for ‘free speech’” by L. Webster for The Conversation

Freedom of expression is one of our modern society’s most cherished core values and is core human right in the EU, UK and US. But in the age of social media, that raises questions. Every internet user can generate its own content, but that content is regulated by the private corporations that own the platforms.

‘Gab’ and ‘Dissenter’ are both platforms that aim to offer an answer to this problem. The first positions itself as a champion of free speech and a free flow of online information, the latter is Gab’s browser extension that enables users to engage with each other on any web page. But to its critics, these platforms are bastions of right-wing, “alt-right” ideologies that enable hate speech.

Where do we draw the line online? Is freedom of speech limitless, and if not, how far does it go? This is a must-read if you’re interested in the ethical debate about freedom of speech, but also about the rise of new types of social platforms and the political implications they (may) have.

5. “Zuckerberg: “Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these 4 areas.” — Opinion piece by Mark Zuckerberg

The uncrowned King of the Internet, Facebook-CEO Mark Zuckerberg, wrote an opinion piece on how technology and the internet in general should evolve in the future. 

In Zuckerberg’s opinion, there’s a dire need for regulation in 4 areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. How can we give people a voice while at the same time creating a safe space? How can we protect elections, and what about people’s personal data? And one that data is shared, how can we move it to another service?

Zuckerberg’s opinion piece has made quite a lot of noise and has raised some critical voices. What do you think? Read the piece and make up your own mind!

That’s it for this week! If you just can’t get enough, head to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to scratch the rest of your digital democracy itch. Are you thinking of implementing digital participation in your local government? Get in touch or download our free e-guide that covers all the basics!

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