While there are many resources out there to help citizens learn more about how much money gov't officials are accepting from special interest groups, I wanted to call out SopaTrack as it is the first of its kind that enables people to easily and quickly look up how elected officials are voting on a particular issue, enabling voters to be more educated and aware as they hit the ballots. For this broader issue and problem, for the first time, there is an app for that :)
In a nutshell, SopaTrack highlights how elected officials are voting on specific issues -- with a focus on how often they vote for or against the money. With the recent fight against SOPA demonstrating how potent and motivated the digital community is in holding elected officials accountable, and with CISPA quickly creeping onto the national stage, SopaTrack demonstrates the next way of digital activism and grass-roots campaigning. Originally, SopaTrack was created to help provide facts around the then one-sided discussion around SOPA that was quickly turned around by alarmed citizens like Randy Meech.
Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy.
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