Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Public WiFi

BY Nick Judd | Monday, February 4 2013

Will free public WiFi become a federal standard?

  • The federal government is considering a proposal to establish free WiFi networks across the country, Cecilia Kang writes in the Washington Post:

    The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

    The proposal from the Federal Communications Commission has rattled the $178 billion wireless industry, which has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea, analysts say. That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor ...

    ... If approved by the FCC, the free networks would still take several years to set up. And, with no one actively managing them, con­nections could easily become jammed in major cities. But public WiFi could allow many consumers to make free calls from their mobile phones via the Internet. The frugal-minded could even use the service in their homes, allowing them to cut off expensive Internet bills.

The future of Internet governance

  • The House is set to hold hearings on the outcomes of the World Conference on International Telecommunications and the future of the "multi-stakeholder" model that now governs the Internet.

A framework for online privacy

  • The New York Times has a useful review of the differences between American and European data privacy laws by Natasha Singer:

    “Yes, we share the basic idea of privacy,” says Peter Hustinx, Europe’s data protection supervisor. “But there is a huge deficit on the U.S. side.”

    Alas, the data-control divide appears to be widening.

    A year ago, the European Commission proposed comprehensive reforms to strengthen online privacy rights — changes that could have big repercussions for American technology companies and marketers that operate in the European Union. American officials, trade groups and tech executives have responded by taking frequent treks to Brussels and other cities, where they have urged regulators and legislators to reconsider the one-regulation-fits-all-data approach. What’s at stake, American industry representatives say, is nothing less than a free and commerce-friendly Internet.

    “The ecosystem of the Internet is very delicate,” says Kevin Richards, senior vice president of federal government affairs at TechAmerica, a trade group that represents companies like Google and Microsoft. “It’s not wise to have an overly broad, prescriptive, one-size-fits-all approach that would hinder or undermine the ability of companies to innovate in a global economy.”

Like drone strikes, but on the Internet

  • Also from the Times, on Sunday, by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker: "A secret legal review on the use of America’s growing arsenal of cyberweapons has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad, according to officials involved in the review."

Al Gore: Democracy's been "hacked

  • Former Vice President Al Gore, speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr: "It can be fixed, but we need to recognise that our democracy has been hacked … It has been taken over … and is being operated for purposes other than those for which it was intended."

    In his comments, Gore then called for another class of hacker to step in with technology solutions to fix it:

    "We see individual bloggers having an impact on policy debates. We see fact-checking taking place on the internet that actually does change the way issues are dealt with. Television is still the dominant medium, but particularly with young people the internet is growing by leaps and bounds and I think soon will justify the optimism that individuals empowered by this new communications infrastructure will be able to reclaim their birthrights as free citizens and redeem the promise of representative democracy."

    Gore called for a "grassroots movement to demand that politics be opened up, and the role of money be diminished." Yes, if only someone had thought of that before!

Google search results reveal racism, study finds

  • A study by Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney finds:

    ... names typically associated with black people were more likely to produce ads related to criminal activity.

    In her paper, Prof Sweeney suggested that Google searches may expose "racial bias in society".

Is your start-up killing America?

  • Wall Street Journal guest contributor Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former IBM VP, writes:

    Many workers are learning to co-evolve with our intelligent machines, and as has been the case in the past, they will be ready for whatever new jobs are created. But, our fear is that this time is different and the long predicted era of technological unemployment is finally upon us. Technology advances are running so far ahead that large numbers of people may not be able to keep up, and the future will bring even more serious economic disruptions.

Around the web

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

More