Parltrack: What are they talking about?
The European Parliament is:
A) a bureaucratic political maze
C) a democratic asset
D) all of the above
You've probably chosen D, and you're right. But engaging with political institutions is crucial if we want to:
1. Safeguard an open internet
2. Get access to social security for all Europeans
3. Work towards a humane refugee policy
4. [FILL IN YOUR OWN IDEALISTIC GOAL HERE]
To achieve your goals you need knowledge, because that is the only asset
with which you will succeed in making your point in the EP. Parltrack:
- is the only sane database on the happenings in the European Parliament
- is the only source of "European Parliament amendments that you can tweet" (TM).
- provides unified access to most relevant data produced by the lawmakers.
- provides open data for free reuse by anyone.
With this information you know what happened, you know the situation and you have a firm basis to act.
THIS SOUNDS COOL, BUT WHAT IS IT?
Parltrack is a free online service, which liberates and aggregates data sources that are important for efficient interaction with the EU legislative process. It has been actively used in the campaigns on ACTA, net neutrality, open government and open data, privacy and copyright.
Why Parltrack is important
Parltrack provides free access to huge amounts of data for
- people trying to inform and organize themselves,
- activists trying to defend online freedom (e.g. Political Memory from La Quadrature du Net is using Parltrack data),
- app developers, who develop tools to improve our democratic system,
- staff and members of the European Parliament, who have more accurate data locked up in their institutional silos, but need better aggregated views of this data.
What others say
"ParlTrack is a brilliant example of how smart code can serve democracy. Politicians and technocrats too often hide behind walls of opacity. ParlTrack is a model of how to build transparency out of crunching opaque data. We use it everyday as La Quadrature du Net, as an input for our own tool for citizen participation: Political Memory. As a citizen, as a civil liberty organization representative and for our society as a whole, I can claim it: we need MOAR parltrack!"
- Jérémie Zimmermann, La Quadrature du Net (co-founder), FR
"Parltrack has been an intensely helpful resource for our European work. For example, during the recent revision of the directive on Public Sector Information we relied on this tool to keep track of all the disparate info buried in the intractable EU websites. Parltrack is great and has an amazing potential, but it really needs some funding to take it to the next level."
- Javier Ruiz, Campaigns Director, Open Rights Group, UK
"It's hard to keep track of all the developments and documents on all of the relevant dossiers in the European lawmaking process. Parltracks provides activists like us the overview we need."
- Rejo Zenger, Bits of Freedom, NL
"We wouldn't have been able to bring memopol this far without Parltrack and the awesome help of Stefan. Memopol being an essential tool for our work, we can't thank him enough. He probably holds a big part of our collective success against ACTA."
- Bram, Memopol main developer, la Quadrature du Net volunteer and Nurpa co-founder, BE
"Parltrack is an essential tool, it helps us to keep track of what happens in the European Parliament. Parltrack sent us updates of all changes in the ACTA documents and process, that helped greatly to stay on top of the process."
- Ante Wessels, Vrijschrift, NL
"ParlTrack is a great example of how a single citizen initiative can fulfill an institution's duties and publish actual OpenData where the European Parliament only publishes html, pdf or worse. By scraping all this data and republishing it as bulk and api, ParlTrack makes anyone capable of creating democratic tools in Europe!"
- Regards Citoyens, FR
"Parltrack is an indispensible tool for penetrating the legislative fog of Brussels, especially if you are not part of the "Brussels Bubble". Tools like Parltrack are our only short-term hope for restoring the democratic credibility of the European Union."
- Walter van Holst, NL
How you can help
Parltrack has been used extensively but is maintained mostly by one volunteer, me. I need your support to maintain and upgrade Parltrack. If you will support Parltrack financially, these are my aims:
- <500EUR - fix existing bugs relevant to current campaigns.
- <1000EUR - fix existing bugs, fend off bitrot for a year.
- <2500EUR - maintain the parltrack scrapers.
- >5000EUR - improve the user interface (a redesign is much needed).
- >10000EUR - develop further features (e.g. monitor keywords, trending things).
- >15000EUR - provide analysis and publish data mining results.
- >20000EUR - integrate more datasources.
- >30000EUR - extend parltrack with commission and council datasources.
Even if you do not have the means to contribute right now, maybe you
can tell your friends to do so:
- "Hey this is awesome work providing tools for keeping our internets free, can you support him keep up the good work?",
- "stef needs your support so he supports your freedom"
- "Remember you owe me one? Please donate a few bucks to this project."
1. What is this Parltrack thing again?
Parltrack is an online service that pulls data from the European
Parliament, republishes this data in a database dump and presents it
online in a way, that is most useful for citizens engaged in policy
2. What is the license?
The source code is published under the AGPLv3+ free software license,
and the database is republished under the ODBLv1 free database license.
3. Why this campaign?
Parltrack so far has been fully funded by myself. Luckily I was able to do so due to some spare resources I had. This fundraiser stems from the fact that I would like to work more on Parltrack and less on business jobs. An obvious solution to this is that you can hire me to implement features for Parltrack that you urgently need, so we all win.