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Paul Merrell

Hey ITU Member States: No More Secrecy, Release the Treaty Proposals | Electronic Frontier Foundation - 0 views

  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in December in Dubai, an all-important treaty-writing event where ITU Member States will discuss the proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). The ITU is a United Nations agency responsible for international telecom regulation, a bureaucratic, slow-moving, closed regulatory organization that issues treaty-level provisions for international telecommunication networks and services. The ITR, a legally binding international treaty signed by 178 countries, defines the boundaries of ITU’s regulatory authority and provides "general principles" on international telecommunications. However, media reports indicate that some proposed amendments to the ITR—a negotiation that is already well underway—could potentially expand the ITU’s mandate to encompass the Internet.
  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will hold the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in December in Dubai, an all-important treaty-writing event where ITU Member States will discuss the proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR). The ITU is a United Nations agency responsible for international telecom regulation, a bureaucratic, slow-moving, closed regulatory organization that issues treaty-level provisions for international telecommunication networks and services. The ITR, a legally binding international treaty signed by 178 countries, defines the boundaries of ITU’s regulatory authority and provides "general principles" on international telecommunications. However, media reports indicate that some proposed amendments to the ITR—a negotiation that is already well underway—could potentially expand the ITU’s mandate to encompass the Internet. In similar fashion to the secrecy surrounding ACTA and TPP, the ITR proposals are being negotiated in secret, with high barriers preventing access to any negotiating document. While aspiring to be a venue for Internet policy-making, the ITU Member States do not appear to be very open to the idea of allowing all stakeholders (including civil society) to participate. The framework under which the ITU operates does not allow for any form of open participation. Mere access to documents and decision-makers is sold by the ITU to corporate “associate” members at prohibitively high rates. Indeed, the ITU’s business model appears to depend on revenue generation from those seeking to ‘participate’ in its policy-making processes. This revenue-based principle of policy-making is deeply troubling in and of itself, as the objective of policy making should be to reach the best possible outcome.
  • EFF, European Digital Rights, CIPPIC and CDT and a coalition of civil society organizations from around the world are demanding that the ITU Secretary General, the  WCIT-12 Council Working Group, and ITU Member States open up the WCIT-12 and the Council working group negotiations, by immediately releasing all the preparatory materials and Treaty proposals. If it affects the digital rights of citizens across the globe, the public needs to know what is going on and deserves to have a say. The Council Working Group is responsible for the preparatory work towards WCIT-12, setting the agenda for and consolidating input from participating governments and Sector Members. We demand full and meaningful participation for civil society in its own right, and without cost, at the Council Working Group meetings and the WCIT on equal footing with all other stakeholders, including participating governments. A transparent, open process that is inclusive of civil society at every stage is crucial to creating sound policy.
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  • Civil society has good reason to be concerned regarding an expanded ITU policy-making role. To begin with, the institution does not appear to have high regard for the distributed multi-stakeholder decision making model that has been integral to the development of an innovative, successful and open Internet. In spite of commitments at WSIS to ensure Internet policy is based on input from all relevant stakeholders, the ITU has consistently put the interests of one stakeholder—Governments—above all others. This is discouraging, as some government interests are inconsistent with an open, innovative network. Indeed, the conditions which have made the Internet the powerful tool it is today emerged in an environment where the interests of all stakeholders are given equal footing, and existing Internet policy-making institutions at least aspire, with varying success, to emulate this equal footing. This formula is enshrined in the Tunis Agenda, which was committed to at WSIS in 2005:
  • 83. Building an inclusive development-oriented Information Society will require unremitting multi-stakeholder effort. We thus commit ourselves to remain fully engaged—nationally, regionally and internationally—to ensure sustainable implementation and follow-up of the outcomes and commitments reached during the WSIS process and its Geneva and Tunis phases of the Summit. Taking into account the multifaceted nature of building the Information Society, effective cooperation among governments, private sector, civil society and the United Nations and other international organizations, according to their different roles and responsibilities and leveraging on their expertise, is essential. 84. Governments and other stakeholders should identify those areas where further effort and resources are required, and jointly identify, and where appropriate develop, implementation strategies, mechanisms and processes for WSIS outcomes at international, regional, national and local levels, paying particular attention to people and groups that are still marginalized in their access to, and utilization of, ICTs.
  • Indeed, the ITU’s current vision of Internet policy-making is less one of distributed decision-making, and more one of ‘taking control.’ For example, in an interview conducted last June with ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin raised the suggestion that the union might take control of the Internet: “We are thankful to you for the ideas that you have proposed for discussion,” Putin told Touré in that conversation. “One of them is establishing international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).” Perhaps of greater concern are views espoused by the ITU regarding the nature of the Internet. Yesterday, at the World Summit of Information Society Forum, Mr. Alexander Ntoko, head of the Corporate Strategy Division of the ITU, explained the proposals made during the preparatory process for the WCIT, outlining a broad set of topics that can seriously impact people's rights. The categories include "security," "interoperability" and "quality of services," and the possibility that ITU recommendations and regulations will be not only binding on the world’s nations, but enforced.
  • Rights to online expression are unlikely to fare much better than privacy under an ITU model. During last year’s IGF in Kenya, a voluntary code of conduct was issued to further restrict free expression online. A group of nations (including China, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) released a Resolution for the UN General Assembly titled, “International Code of Conduct for Information Security.”  The Code seems to be designed to preserve and protect national powers in information and communication. In it, governments pledge to curb “the dissemination of information that incites terrorism, secessionism or extremism or that undermines other countries’ political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.” This overly broad provision accords any state the right to censor or block international communications, for almost any reason.
  • EFF Joins Coalition Denouncing Secretive WCIT Planning Process June 2012 Congressional Witnesses Agree: Multistakeholder Processes Are Right for Internet Regulation June 2012 Widespread Participation Is Key in Internet Governance July 2012 Blogging ITU: Internet Users Will Be Ignored Again if Flawed ITU Proposals Gain Traction June 2012 Global Telecom Governance Debated at European Parliament Workshop
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

InterCommunity 2015 | InterCommunity 2015 | 7-8 July 2015 - 0 views

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    "7-8 July 2015 A global meeting of the Internet Society, on the Internet, for the Internet. This one-of-a-kind community event will give you the opportunity to share your unique perspectives on key Internet topics and issues. Connect with the Internet Society Board of Trustees Exchange ideas with Members around the globe Join lively discussions about Collaborative Governance, Collaborative Security, and Access & Development Hear insights from the 2nd annual Global Internet Report Share your views on critical issues facing the Internet How do I participate?"
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    "7-8 July 2015 A global meeting of the Internet Society, on the Internet, for the Internet. This one-of-a-kind community event will give you the opportunity to share your unique perspectives on key Internet topics and issues. Connect with the Internet Society Board of Trustees Exchange ideas with Members around the globe Join lively discussions about Collaborative Governance, Collaborative Security, and Access & Development Hear insights from the 2nd annual Global Internet Report Share your views on critical issues facing the Internet How do I participate?"
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

ISOC members @IGF 2013 - 0 views

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    "ISOC members @IGF 2013 Each year, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) provides all stakeholders a unique opportunity to discuss openly critical emerging Internet-related issues. This year's overarching IGF theme is: "Building Bridges" - Enhancing Multistakeholder Cooperation for Growth and Sustainable Development" As part of its engagement at the IGF, the Internet Society strongly supports the fundamentals of the open and sustainable Internet: -Open Global standards for unleashed innovation; -Open to Everyone: a freedom-enhancer for every Internet user; -Open for Business and Economic progress; -Open and Multistakeholder governance for transparent inclusion. Encouraging An Ongoing Dialogue Internet Society Members are actively engaged in the IGF. They also have a unique perspective on what is going on at the regional and local levels. "
Paul Merrell

The US is Losing Control of the Internet…Oh, Really? | Global Research - 2 views

  • All of the major internet organisations have pledged, at a summit in Uruguay, to free themselves of the influence of the US government. The directors of ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society and all five of the regional Internet address registries have vowed to break their associations with the US government. In a statement, the group called for “accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing”. That’s a distinct change from the current situation, where the US department of commerce has oversight of ICANN. In another part of the statement, the group “expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance”. Meanwhile, it was announced that the next Internet Governance Summit would be held in Brazil, whose president has been extremely critical of the US over web surveillance. In a statement announcing the location of the summit, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said: “The United States and its allies must urgently end their spying activities once and for all.”
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Keep Dream of a Free and Open Internet Alive, Black Hat Keynoter Urges - 0 views

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    "Black Hat keynoter Jennifer Granick, director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, discusses the need for legal and policy change to defend Internet freedom."
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    "Black Hat keynoter Jennifer Granick, director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, discusses the need for legal and policy change to defend Internet freedom."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Studies on file sharing - La Quadrature du Net - 0 views

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    "Contents 1 Studies 1.1 Evaluation of the effects of the HADOPI law 1.1.1 University of Delaware and Université de Rennes - 2014 - Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-Strike (Hadopi) Law 1.1.2 M@rsouin - 2010 - Evaluation of the effects of the HADOPI law (FR) 1.2 People who share files are people who spend the more for culture 1.2.1 Munich School of Management and Copenhagen Business School - Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload 1.2.2 The American Assembly (Collumbia University) - Copy Culture in the USA and Germany 1.2.3 GFK (Society for Consumer Research) - Disappointed commissioner suppresses study showing pirates are cinema's best consumers 1.2.4 HADOPI - 2011 - January 2011 study on online cultural practices (FR) 1.2.5 University of Amsterdam - 2010 - Economic and cultural effects of unlawful file sharing 1.2.6 BBC - 2009 - "Pirates" spend more on music (FR) 1.2.7 IPSOS Germany - 2009 - Filesharers are better "consumers" of culture (FR) 1.2.8 Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. - 2009 - P2P / Best consumers for Hollywood (EN) 1.2.9 Business School of Norway - 2009 - Those who share music spend ten times more money on music (NO) 1.2.10 Annelies Huygen, et al. (Dutch government investigation) - 2009 - Ups and downs - Economische en culturele gevolgen van file sharing voor muziek, film en games 1.2.11 M@rsouin - 2008 - P2P / buy more DVDs (FR) 1.2.12 Canadian Department of Industry - 2007 - P2P / achètent plus de musique (FR) 1.2.13 Felix Oberholzer-Gee (above) and Koleman Strumpf - 2004 -File sharing may boost CD sales 1.3 Economical effects of filesharing 1.3.1 University of Kansas School of Business - Using Markets to Measure the Impact of File Sharing o
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    "Contents 1 Studies 1.1 Evaluation of the effects of the HADOPI law 1.1.1 University of Delaware and Université de Rennes - 2014 - Graduated Response Policy and the Behavior of Digital Pirates: Evidence from the French Three-Strike (Hadopi) Law 1.1.2 M@rsouin - 2010 - Evaluation of the effects of the HADOPI law (FR) 1.2 People who share files are people who spend the more for culture 1.2.1 Munich School of Management and Copenhagen Business School - Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload 1.2.2 The American Assembly (Collumbia University) - Copy Culture in the USA and Germany 1.2.3 GFK (Society for Consumer Research) - Disappointed commissioner suppresses study showing pirates are cinema's best consumers 1.2.4 HADOPI - 2011 - January 2011 study on online cultural practices (FR) 1.2.5 University of Amsterdam - 2010 - Economic and cultural effects of unlawful file sharing 1.2.6 BBC - 2009 - "Pirates" spend more on music (FR) 1.2.7 IPSOS Germany - 2009 - Filesharers are better "consumers" of culture (FR) 1.2.8 Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. - 2009 - P2P / Best consumers for Hollywood (EN) 1.2.9 Business School of Norway - 2009 - Those who share music spend ten times more money on music (NO) 1.2.10 Annelies Huygen, et al. (Dutch government investigation) - 2009 - Ups and downs - Economische en culturele gevolgen van file sharing voor muziek, film en games 1.2.11 M@rsouin - 2008 - P2P / buy more DVDs (FR) 1.2.12 Canadian Department of Industry - 2007 - P2P / achètent plus de musique (FR) 1.2.13 Felix Oberholzer-Gee (above) and Koleman Strumpf - 2004 -File sharing may boost CD sales 1.3 Economical effects of filesharing 1.3.1 University of Kansas School of Business - Using Markets to Measure the Impact of File Sharing o
Paul Merrell

The De-Americanization of Internet Freedom - Lawfare - 0 views

  • Why did the internet freedom agenda fail? Goldsmith’s essay tees up, but does not fully explore, a range of explanatory hypotheses. The most straightforward have to do with unrealistic expectations and unintended consequences. The idea that a minimally regulated internet would usher in an era of global peace, prosperity, and mutual understanding, Goldsmith tells us, was always a fantasy. As a project of democracy and human rights promotion, the internet freedom agenda was premised on a wildly overoptimistic view about the capacity of information flows, on their own, to empower oppressed groups and effect social change. Embracing this market-utopian view led the United States to underinvest in cybersecurity, social media oversight, and any number of other regulatory tools. In suggesting this interpretation of where U.S. policymakers and their civil society partners went wrong, Goldsmith’s essay complements recent critiques of the neoliberal strains in the broader human rights and transparency movements. Perhaps, however, the internet freedom agenda has faltered not because it was so naïve and unrealistic, but because it was so effective at achieving its realist goals. The seeds of this alternative account can be found in Goldsmith’s concession that the commercial non-regulation principle helped companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon grab “huge market share globally.” The internet became an increasingly valuable cash cow for U.S. firms and an increasingly potent instrument of U.S. soft power over the past two decades; foreign governments, in due course, felt compelled to fight back. If the internet freedom agenda is understood as fundamentally a national economic project, rather than an international political or moral crusade, then we might say that its remarkable early success created the conditions for its eventual failure. Goldsmith’s essay also points to a third set of possible explanations for the collapse of the internet freedom agenda, involving its internal contradictions. Magaziner’s notion of a completely deregulated marketplace, if taken seriously, is incoherent. As Goldsmith and Tim Wu have discussed elsewhere, it takes quite a bit of regulation for any market, including markets related to the internet, to exist and to work. And indeed, even as Magaziner proposed “complete deregulation” of the internet, he simultaneously called for new legal protections against computer fraud and copyright infringement, which were soon followed by extensive U.S. efforts to penetrate foreign networks and to militarize cyberspace. Such internal dissonance was bound to invite charges of opportunism, and to render the American agenda unstable.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Wikileaks and the Control of the Internet | La Quadrature du Net - 2 views

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    [ Op'Ed by Jérémie Zimmermann initially published in French in Mediapart WikiLeaks has become the symbol of disturbing information that can't be stopped. Recent declarations and actions against the organization clearly expose the will of governments to control the Internet. From now on, it seems that both sides are fighting a battle that could be one of the most important that we must wage for the future of our democracies. On one side, those who would like to put the Internet under control, through administrative or privatized censorship, in order to remain in power. On the other, citizens of the word at large ready build networked societies in which the sharing of knowledge, freedom of expression and the increased transparency allowed for by the Internet must be protected and strengthened at all costs. ]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Protect Global Internet Freedom - 1 views

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    [On December 3rd, the world's governments will meet to update a key treaty of a UN agency called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Some governments are proposing to extend ITU authority to Internet governance in ways that could threaten Internet openness and innovation, increase access costs, and erode human rights online. We call on civil society organizations and citizens of all nations to sign the following Statement to Protect Global Internet Freedom: ...]
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Power in the Age of the Feudal Internet - CoLab - 0 views

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    "Discussion Papers > Internet and Security > Proposition PROPOSITION Bruce Schneier, Cryptographer and Computer Security Specialist and Author of Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Thrive We're in the middle of an epic battle for power in cyberspace. On one side are the nimble, unorganized, distributed powers such as dissident groups, criminals, and hackers. On the other side are the traditional, organized, institutional powers such as governments and large multinational corporations. During its early days, the Internet gave coordination and efficiency to the powerless. It made them powerful, and seem unbeatable. But now the more traditional institutional powers are winning, and winning big. How these two fare long-term, and the fate of the majority of us that don't fall into either group, is an open question - and one vitally important to the future of the Internet."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Why you should share your Internet connection | Jen Wike Huger (Red Hat) | Opensource.com - 0 views

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    "Grace Hopper Open Source Day, an interview with uProxy uProxy is a browser extension that lets you share your Internet connection with people living in repressive societies. Much of the world lives in countries that severely censor and restrict Internet access. uProxy makes it a little easier to bring the free and open Internet to some of the darkest corners of the world."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Torrents Good For a Third of all Internet Traffic in Asia-Pacific | TorrentFreak [1/3...] - 0 views

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    " Ernesto on November 20, 2014 C: 0 News New data published by the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that BitTorrent can be credited for one-third of all Internet traffic in the Asia-Pacific region during peak hours. That's an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous year." [ # aka 1/3 of Internet income... # ! ... comes from #sharers... # ! this is a collective action to be considered as 'The #Culture' # ! that has to be '#protected'... [culture The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/culture] # ! Consider the Money regularly injected by this group -through # ! monthly fees- on the Internet itself...] # ! 1 out of every 3 Dollars come from sharers...
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    " Ernesto on November 20, 2014 C: 0 News New data published by the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that BitTorrent can be credited for one-third of all Internet traffic in the Asia-Pacific region during peak hours. That's an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous year." # ! 1 out of every 3 Dollars come from sharers...
Paul Merrell

Civil society organisations say no to intellectual property in EU - US trade agreement - Press releases - 0 views

  • Brussels, 18 March 2013 -- More than 35 European and United States civil society organisations insist that a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US exclude any provisions related to patents, copyright, trademarks, or other forms of so-called "intellectual property". Such provisions could impede citizens' rights to health, culture, and free expression and otherwise affect their daily lives.
  • We, the undersigned, are internet freedom and public health groups, activists, and other public interest leaders dedicated to the rights of all people to access cultural and educational resources and affordable medicines, to enjoy a free and open internet, and to benefit from open and needs-driven innovation. First, we insist that the European Union and United States release, in timely and ongoing fashion, any and all negotiating or pre-negotiation texts. We believe that secretive "trade" negotiations are absolutely unacceptable forums for devising binding rules that change national non-trade laws. Second, we insist that the proposed TAFTA exclude any provisions related to patents, copyright, trademarks, data protection, geographical indications, or other forms of so-called "intellectual property". Such provisions could impede our rights to health, culture, and free expression and otherwise affect our daily lives.
  • The civil society organisations also insist that the EU and US will release the negotiating texts of the trade agreement they intend to negotiate. They believe that secretive "trade" negotiations are absolutely unacceptable forums for devising binding rules that change national non-trade laws.
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  • Past trade agreements negotiated by the US and EU have significantly increased the privileges of multinational corporations at the expense of society in general. Provisions in these agreements can, among many other concerns, limit free speech, constrain access to educational materials such as textbooks and academic journals, and, in the case of medicines, raise healthcare costs and contribute to preventable suffering and death. Unless "intellectual property" is excluded from these talks, we fear that the outcome will be an agreement that inflicts the worst of both regimes’ rules on the other party. From a democratic perspective, we believe that important rules governing technology, health, and culture should be debated in the US Congress, the European Parliament, national parliaments, and other transparent forums where all stakeholders can be heard—not in closed negotiations that give privileged access to corporate insiders. The TAFTA negotiations must not lead to a rewriting of patent and copyright rules in a way that tilts the balance even further away from the interests of citizens.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Improving your ISOC membership service - 0 views

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    " Dear 'whoever You were, (Español abajo / Français au dessous) At the Internet Society we know that each of our members is essential to fulfilling our mission. That's why we want to better understand and improve your membership experience. Please, click the link below and take our 15 - 20 minutes survey to give us your ideas and feedback. Your opinion will help shape the future of our community: "
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Declaration of Internet Freedom - 0 views

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    "Preamble We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world. To keep the Internet free and open, we call on communities, industries and countries to recognize these principles. We believe that they will help to bring about more creativity, more innovation and more open societies."
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Calendar - Internet Society - 0 views

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    [E-Group Rules & Etiquette Thank you for being part of our community. To ensure the best possible experience for all members, we have established some basic guidelines for participation. ...]
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    [E-Group Rules & Etiquette Thank you for being part of our community. To ensure the best possible experience for all members, we have established some basic guidelines for participation. ...]
Gary Edwards

Everything You Need to Know About the Bitcoin Protocol - 0 views

  • . In this research paper we hope to explain that the bitcoin currency itself is ‘just’ the next phase in the evolution of money – from dumb to smart money. It’s the underlying platform, the Bitcoin protocol aka Bitcoin 2.0, that holds the real transformative power. That is where the revolution starts. According to our research there are several reasons why this new technology is going to disrupt our economy and society as we have never experienced before:
  • From dumb to smart money
  • The Bitcoin protocol is the underlying platform that holds the real transformative power and is where the revolution starts. According to our research there are several reasons why this new technology is going to disrupt our economy and society as we have never experienced before:
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  • Similar to when the TCP/IP, HTTP and SMTP protocols were still in their infancy; the Bitcoin protocol is currently in a similar evolutionary stage. Contrary to the early days of the Internet, when only a few people had a computer, nowadays everybody has a supercomputer in its pocket. It’s Moore’s Law all over again. Bitcoin is going to disrupt the economy and society with breathtaking speed. For the first time in history technology makes it possible to transfer property rights (such as shares, certificates, digital money, etc.) fast, transparent and very secure. Moreover, these transactions can take place without the involvement of a trusted intermediary such as a government, notary, or bank. Companies and governments are no longer needed as the “middle man” in all kinds of financial agreements. Not only does The Internet of Things give machines a digital identity, the bitcoin API’s (machine-machine interfaces) gives them an economic identity as well. Next to people and corporations, machines will become a new type of agent in the economy.
  • The Bitcoin protocol flips automation upside down. From now on automation within companies can start top down, making the white-collar employees obsolete. Corporate missions can be encoded on top of the protocol. Machines can manage a corporation all by themselves. Bitcoin introduces the world to the new nature of the firm: the Distributed Autonomous Corporation (DAC). This new type of corporation also adds a new perspective to the discussion on technological unemployment. The DAC might even turn technological unemplyment into structural unemployment. Bitcoin is key to the success of the Collaborative Economy. Bitcoin enables a frictionless and transparent way of sharing ideas, media, products, services and technology between people without the interference of corporations and governments.
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    A series of eleven pages discussing Bitcoin and the extraordinary impact it will have on the world economy. Excellent article and a worthy follow up to the previous Marc Andressen discussion of Bitcoin.
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    A series of eleven pages discussing Bitcoin and the extraordinary impact it will have on the world economy. Excellent article and a worthy follow up to the previous Marc Andressen discussion of Bitcoin.
Paul Merrell

Spies and internet giants are in the same business: surveillance. But we can stop them | John Naughton | Comment is free | The Guardian - 0 views

  • On Tuesday, the European court of justice, Europe’s supreme court, lobbed a grenade into the cosy, quasi-monopolistic world of the giant American internet companies. It did so by declaring invalid a decision made by the European commission in 2000 that US companies complying with its “safe harbour privacy principles” would be allowed to transfer personal data from the EU to the US. This judgment may not strike you as a big deal. You may also think that it has nothing to do with you. Wrong on both counts, but to see why, some background might be useful. The key thing to understand is that European and American views about the protection of personal data are radically different. We Europeans are very hot on it, whereas our American friends are – how shall I put it? – more relaxed.
  • Given that personal data constitutes the fuel on which internet companies such as Google and Facebook run, this meant that their exponential growth in the US market was greatly facilitated by that country’s tolerant data-protection laws. Once these companies embarked on global expansion, however, things got stickier. It was clear that the exploitation of personal data that is the core business of these outfits would be more difficult in Europe, especially given that their cloud-computing architectures involved constantly shuttling their users’ data between server farms in different parts of the world. Since Europe is a big market and millions of its citizens wished to use Facebook et al, the European commission obligingly came up with the “safe harbour” idea, which allowed companies complying with its seven principles to process the personal data of European citizens. The circle having been thus neatly squared, Facebook and friends continued merrily on their progress towards world domination. But then in the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden broke cover and revealed what really goes on in the mysterious world of cloud computing. At which point, an Austrian Facebook user, one Maximilian Schrems, realising that some or all of the data he had entrusted to Facebook was being transferred from its Irish subsidiary to servers in the United States, lodged a complaint with the Irish data protection commissioner. Schrems argued that, in the light of the Snowden revelations, the law and practice of the United States did not offer sufficient protection against surveillance of the data transferred to that country by the government.
  • The Irish data commissioner rejected the complaint on the grounds that the European commission’s safe harbour decision meant that the US ensured an adequate level of protection of Schrems’s personal data. Schrems disagreed, the case went to the Irish high court and thence to the European court of justice. On Tuesday, the court decided that the safe harbour agreement was invalid. At which point the balloon went up. “This is,” writes Professor Lorna Woods, an expert on these matters, “a judgment with very far-reaching implications, not just for governments but for companies the business model of which is based on data flows. It reiterates the significance of data protection as a human right and underlines that protection must be at a high level.”
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  • This is classic lawyerly understatement. My hunch is that if you were to visit the legal departments of many internet companies today you would find people changing their underpants at regular intervals. For the big names of the search and social media worlds this is a nightmare scenario. For those of us who take a more detached view of their activities, however, it is an encouraging development. For one thing, it provides yet another confirmation of the sterling service that Snowden has rendered to civil society. His revelations have prompted a wide-ranging reassessment of where our dependence on networking technology has taken us and stimulated some long-overdue thinking about how we might reassert some measure of democratic control over that technology. Snowden has forced us into having conversations that we needed to have. Although his revelations are primarily about government surveillance, they also indirectly highlight the symbiotic relationship between the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ on the one hand and the giant internet companies on the other. For, in the end, both the intelligence agencies and the tech companies are in the same business, namely surveillance.
  • And both groups, oddly enough, provide the same kind of justification for what they do: that their surveillance is both necessary (for national security in the case of governments, for economic viability in the case of the companies) and conducted within the law. We need to test both justifications and the great thing about the European court of justice judgment is that it starts us off on that conversation.
Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

Fcforum 2012 - 0 views

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    [The struggle for the defense of the Internet and free culture grows stronger year after year, inseparable from the struggle to consolidate the paradigm change that goes hand in hand with the digital era. 2012 has seen civil society win great victories over the barbarians: ...]
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