Y490 Politics of the Internet November 15, 2011
Some of our original concerns:
- Does the Internet make it possible for there to be more diversity in the political views expressed in the public sphere?
- How do we compare the media on the Internet to the media that were previously available?
- Does the greater amount of user-generated content in blogs and social networks result in stronger democracies?
User-Generated Content and Applications
- Other social networking sites
- IMDB reviews and other content
The Long Tail Hypothesis Pareto Distribution (aka Power Law)
Another Way to Look at the Long Tail
- Will the people on the left side of the long curve be hurt by the people on the right side? If so, what is gained and lost?
- Does bad behavior by the little guys ruin it for everybody?
- How can people protect themselves against network mischief?
Zittrain Contrasts PCs with iPhones PC iPhone Type of Technology Generative Appliancized/ Tethered Type of Software Open Proprietary Type of Network Anarchic Controlled
Definition of Generativity
- “… a system’s capacity to produce unanticipated change through unfiltered contributions from broad and varied audiences…” (p. 70)
Features of a Generative System (pp. 71-73)
Basic Propositions (Zittrain, p. 64)
- The IT ecosystem functions best with generative technology at its core.
- Generativity instigates a pattern both within and beyond the technological layers of the IT ecosystem.
- Proponents of generative IT systems ignore the drawbacks attendant to generativity’s success at their peril.
- Intermediate High: applications
- Intermediate Low: operating systems
Advantages of Layers
- Engineers can tinker with one layer without necessarily affecting the other layers.
- The hourglass shape means that there is lots of room for innovation above and below the operating systems and protocols levels.
Problems with Generative Technologies and Anarchic Networks
- Malware: worms, viruses, trojan horses
- Incompatibilities in hardware and software which create difficulties for beginners (steep learning curves)
- Use by criminals, political extremists, hate mongers, pornographers, child molesters, cyberstalkers
- Vulnerability to cyber attacks of various kinds that go beyond malware (e.g. denial of service attacks, identity theft)
- The blanket term for any type of crime wherein the offender uses another individual’s legitimate personal information to commit acts of fraud or deception, typically for illicit financial gain
- Where a person’s identification details are obtained through various covert methods, from rifling through the contents of household dustbins to “phishing.’
- Phishing is a form of fraud where the criminal pretends to be a reputable organization that needs information about some business you may have done with them
Identity Theft and Fraud
- Identity theft is not really a specific kind of fraud, but an act that leads a person to be able to commit fraud
FTC video on identity theft
- Fraud generally is the attempt to convince for any reason that you are someone other then yourself.
Examples of Hate Speech on the Internet
- Sale of Nazi objects (involving EBay)
- French policies (involving Yahoo based sales of Nazi stuff)
Dangers Inherent in Tethered Systems
- Network service can reprogram appliances at will (through their periodic updating of appliance software)
- Some appliances can record private information and make it available to those with access to the network (police for example)
Controversy over Amazon e-books
- Tethered networks can be used for censorship
Examples of Censorship on Tethered Networks
- Skype in China is used to censor words like Falun Gong and Dalai Lama
- Google.cn makes searches for Falun Gong and Tibet fail
- FBI can use OnStar for surveillance
Flexispy software for cell phones
- Use of cameras in mobile phones?
The News Corporation Scandal
- News of the World tabloid in UK hacks into cell phones of Prince Harry and others to get sensational stories
- Photo of Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party
- 2002 kidnap and murder of a British schoolgirl, Milly Dowler
- Exposure of top level News Corporation approval of illegal phone hacking in 2011
Should Cell Phones Networks be more like the PC-Based Internet?
- Cell phone operators clearly are opposed to this
- Should “net neutrality” be extended to cell phone networks?
- Should we personally favor PC-like Google-Android platforms over more tethered platforms like Apple’s iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad?