These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House. Despite these threats,Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.
"The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier - but no less dangerous - methods for controlling online conversations," said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.” READ MORE 
“Despite the proven effectiveness of mobile banking in integrating significant portions of populations in developing countries to the financial system, two New America Foundation partners, Sascha Meinrath and Jamie M. Zimmerman, argue that this strategy is still an imperfect solution to financially include the poorest of the poor. M-PESA in Kenya, for example, has been heralded as an immense success with nearly 70% of the adult population using its e-transaction services, which has lead to positive results in related income generation. Yet Meinrath and Zimmerman cite a 2010 study, which showed that 60% of the poorest quartile did not use these services, further marginalizing this group compared to other Kenyans who are benefiting from M-PESA.” READ MORE 
Your Tweet Counts 
“I've spent the past four years helping federal government agencies become more connected with citizens through social media. But even as Twitter usage has skyrocketed since 2008, the obvious question has nagged: Do citizens really want to become more connected to the government? I recently stumbled upon some answers by forming a subversive democratic experiment: the San Diego Burger Mob. Seriously.
For most people, dealing with the government is limited to transactions like applying for a driver's license, paying taxes, or getting pulled over. Much beyond such necessary inconveniences, an interaction with the government is a sign that something has gone wrong. Nonetheless, many certainly do want to engage with the government. Countless students, activists, and otherwise enthusiastic citizens want to inform policy or otherwise improve how government works. The good news for these people is that social media is driving the cost of organizing to zero. In some cases, that’s bad news for government: Citizens are organizing on the Internet to supplant (Bitcoin) or frustrate (WikiLeaks) official institutions. Certainly, this is not the kind of connection my clients had in mind.” READ MORE 
“On its first anniversary, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) has launched an Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) as a key means by which stakeholders can track the progress and impact among OGP participating governments.
The IRM will be overseen by an eight-person International Expert Panel (IEP), which comprises three high-profile senior advisors and five technical or policy experts. The senior advisors will provide strategic advice during the initial development of the IRM’s overall assessment approach. The panel will play a key role in international and regional outreach on the IRM report findings and implications.” READ MORE 
“As of 2012, nearly three-quarters of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone. Soon it will be common knowledge that the developing world is more dependent on mobile applications than even developed countries. After all, mobile applications are quickly strengthening agriculture, health, money, governance, and entrepreneurship in developing regions.
Accordingly, to capture and quantify the exponential mobile progress, the World Bank recently issued a report, Information and Communications for Development 2012: Maximizing Mobile.” READ MORE