Omidyar Network Funding New Tools for Democracy

June 30, 2011; Source: The Wall Street Journal | In this article in the Wall Street Journal, the founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar discusses some of his philanthropic investments. Among the projects he references are the Sunlight Foundation, a program that uses technology to reveal how money functions in politics; Code for America, that involves volunteers in developing systems that enable people’s access to public information; and the Honolulu Civil Beat, a community based news service. All of these projects, as you can see, have a focus of promoting citizen access to the information they need to participate in community and national decision-making. The first two are focused on transparency and the third is a local community news experiment.

Where NPQ periodically expresses concern about billionaire philanthropy into public systems because it contains the potential of providing undue influence to the donor, these types of projects have the effect of improving democracy.—Ruth McCambridge