Visualizing Government Surveillance

EUHackathon 2013

This, the theme of the 3rd edition of the EUhackathon is ‘Hack4YourRights’ and focuses on government access to citizens’ private communications online. While governments have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute crime, that authority should not be granted at the expense of Internet security or fundamental freedoms. Public accountability should be an important check on government access to personal information, but there are still many places around the world where citizens are not fully aware of what is happening. In fact, most sources, including various corporate transparency reports, show that governments are asking private companies for more information about their users, more often than ever before. In addition, some governments are looking to expand their abilities to access citizens’ information without offering their citizens the adequate justifications or protections needed to guard against abuse. These new proposals not only pose a threat to Internet security and individual privacy but could also have a chilling effect on speech; people need to feel safe from overreaching governments in order to continue exercising their rights to free expression online.

To ensure that officials are acting in the public interest, citizens should be aware of why and when governments request access to their information. The EUhackathon participants will create visualisations, using data sets from network analysis, corporate transparency reports and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, that shed a light on the state of play of government surveillance in various countries, empowering citizens to stand up for their fundamental rights. Greater transparency and awareness are critical to ensuring government surveillance is only used when necessary and proportionate.
Please note that this challenge is only open for the participants of the EUhackathon2013. 



We’ve compiled data sets and resources to help you get started. And we encourage you to use additional data sets (as long as they’re open). 
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index


For a list of additional company and government reports, click here


After you’ve uploaded your project, make sure to submit it for the challenge by clicking the button below. 

Deadline: Wednesday, September 25, 13:30 

Prize and Award Ceremony

An awards ceremony hosted by MEP Petru Luhan in the European Parliament will see one winning team receiving an award of EUR 5,000 presented by European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding. The prize is courtesy of the EUHackathon 2013 sponsors. 

Francesca Bosco, UNICRI
Colm Doyle, Facebook
Marco Pancini, Google
Charlene Manuel, Visualizing 
Brendan Sharkey, Transparency International

Visualizations will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Understanding (10 Points): How effectively does the visualization communicate? How well does it help you make sense of this issue? 
  • Originality (5 Points): Are the approach and design innovative?
  • Style (5 Points): Is the visualization aesthetically compelling?  


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