2011

Michael Froomkin on the future of anonymity

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Michael Froomkin, the Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Miami, discusses his new paper prepared for the Oxford Internet Institute entitled, Lessons Learned Too Well. Froomkin begins by talking about anonymity, why it is important, and the different political and social components involved. The discussion then turns to Froomkin’s categorization of Internet regulation, how it can be seen in three different waves, and how it relates to anonymity. He ends the discussion by talking about the third wave of Internet regulation, and he predicts that online anonymity will become practically impossible. Froomkin also discusses the constitutional implications of a complete ban on online anonymity, as well as what he would deem an ideal balance between the right to anonymous speech and protection from online crimes like fraud and security breeches.

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danah boyd on how parents help kids lie to get on Facebook

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danah boyd,¬†Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research, and Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, discusses her recent article in First Monday with Ester Hargitai, Jason Schultz, and John Palfrey. It’s entitled, “Why parents help their children lie to Facebook about age: Unintended consequences of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.” boyd discusses COPPA as it applies to Facebook, namely that children under 13 are not allowed to use the site. She then talks about her research, which looks at whether this restriction is helping parents protect their children’s privacy, and whether it is meeting COPPA’s ultimate goals. boyd discusses her findings, which indicate parents are allowing their children to lie about their age to obtain a Facebook account. According to boyd, parents want guidelines when it comes to data protection, but they do not necessarily want strict requirements. boyd feels that COPPA is not achieving its goal of privacy protection and should be evaluated with more transparency so parents and the public in general know how to protect their privacy.

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Joseph Flatley on the new breed of survivalists

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Joseph Flatley, Features Editor with The Verge, discusses his recent article entitled, “Condo at the End of the World.” Flatley first gives an overview of The Verge, a new website dedicated to in-depth reporting usually seen in traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. He describes The Verge as a website dedicated not only to what technology means, but also to how it affects our lives. The discussion then turns to Flately’s article on survival condos, which have attracted the attention of wealthy citizens concerned about end of the world calamity and economic collapse. According to Flatley, the interest in survival condos has increased after 9/11, and after the recent economic downturn. The “condos” are abandoned missile silos that date back to the cold war. Flatley describes his interviews with different people who are carving out a market for high-end survival real estate, turning these abandoned missile silos into luxury living. He describes how survivalists might live in an end of the world scenario, including what they will eat and how they will stay properly hydrated.

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Laura Heymann on reputation

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Laura Heymann, Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School, discusses her recent article in the Boston College Law Review entitled, The Law of Reputation and the Interest of the Audience. Heymann proposes viewing the concept of reputation as something formed by a community rather than something owned by an individual. Reputation, according to Heymann, is valuable because of the way a community uses it. She then discusses how thinking of reputation differently leads to thinking about different remedies for reputation-based harms. Heymann thinks current remedies for damage to one’s reputation do not focus enough on the affect it has on the community and proposes remedies for emotional injuries be separate from remedies for damages to the reputation. She then discusses how the Internet affects reputation, including how it enlarges communities, and how it intersects with privacy.

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Johnny Ryan on the history of the Internet and its future

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Johnny Ryan, Senior Researcher at the Institute of International and European Affairs, discusses his recent book, “A History of the Internet and the Digital Future.” The book is a comprehensive overview of the Internet and where it came from. Ryan discusses some of the core concepts, including what made the Internet revolutionary, and how many of these ideas came from RAND Corporation researcher Paul Baran. He explains that the initial concept for packet switching did come from the need to build a communications system to withstand nuclear attack. The discussion then turns to the advent of communication between computers, which sprang from a group of graduate students who used a collaborative process to create the network. Finally, Ryan discusses Web 2.0, and how technologies like cloud computing and 3-D printing will disrupt industries in the future.

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Alisdair Gillespie on restricting access to the Internet

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Alisdair Gillespie, Professor of Criminal Law and Justice at De Montfort University in Leicester UK, discusses his new paper in the International Journal of Law and Information Technology, Restricting Access to the Internet by Sex Offenders. Gillespie discusses whether access to the Internet is a human right, and if so, when that right can be curtailed. He establishes that access to the Internet could be a negative right, then turns to how Internet access can be restricted, particularly in the case of sex offenders. Gillespie talks about different ways to prevent these offenders from using the Internet for ill, including complete restriction as well as technological tools similar to parental control software, and the difficulties that arise when trying to implement any one of these schemes.

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Adam Thierer on Internet sales tax

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Adam Thierer, a Senior Research Fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center, discusses his new paper, co-authored with Veronique de Rugy, The Internet, Sales Tax, and Tax Competition. With several states in the midst of budget crunches, states and localities struggle to find a way to generate revenue, which, according to Thierer, leads to an aggressive attempt to collect online sales tax. He discusses some of these attempts, like the multi-state compact, that seeks taxation of remote online vendors. Thierer believes this creates incentives for large online companies like Amazon to cut deals with certain states, where jobs will be created in exchange for tax relief. This, according to Thierer, creates unfairness for smaller online companies as well as for brick and mortar shops who have to pay taxes to the state where they have a physical presence. He proposes an origin-based tax, which imposes the tax where the purchase is made instead of tracing the transaction to its consumption destination. This proposal, he submits, will level the playing field between brick and mortar companies and online companies, and promote tax competition.

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Simon Chesterman on electronic intelligence surveillance

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Simon Chesterman, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore, and Global Professor and Director of the NYU School of Law Singapore Programme, discusses his new book,¬†One Nation Under Surveillance: A New Social Contract to Defend Freedom Without Sacrificing Liberty. The discussion begins with a brief overview of the NSA and how it garnered the attention of Americans after 9/11. Chesterman discusses the agency’s powers and the problems the NSA encounters, including how to sort through large amounts of data. The discussion then turns to how these powers can become exceptions to constitutional protections, and how such exceptional circumstances can be accommodated. Finally, Chesterman suggests that there has been a cultural shift in western society, where expectations of privacy have dimished with technological and cultural trends, so that information collection by the government is generally accepted. However, he says, society is concerned with how that information is used. According to Chesterman, there should be limits and accountability mechanisms in place for government agencies like the NSA.

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David Robinson on rogue websites and domain seizures

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David Robinson, a fellow at the Information and Society Project at Yale Law School, discusses his new paper, Following the Money: A Better Way Forward on the PROTECT IP Act. The bill, now being considered by Congress, targets “rouge” websites. Robinson discusses the different ways these websites host infringing content and sell counterfeit goods, as well as the remedies proposed in the bill. The measures involve two main consequences: cutting off information through the seizure of domain names by law enforcement, and cutting off financial gain by prohibiting payment processors like Visa and Mastercard from delivering profits to infringing website owners. Robinson discusses why he thinks the Act will better serve IP law if the flow of money is restricted, and not the flow of information. He goes on to discuss what he considers to be troubling about information control, including several constitutional implications.

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Derek Bambauer on censorship

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Derek Bambauer, associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, discusses his forthcoming University of Chicago Law Review article entitled Orwell’s Armchair. In the paper, Bambuer writes that America has begun to censor the Internet, and he distinguishes two forms of censorship: hard and soft. He defines hard censorship as open and transparent, and where the government directly controls what information can and cannot be transmitted. Soft censorship, says Bambauer, is indirect, where government tells third parties to prevent users from accessing information, and it’s not clear what is being censored. He submits that if America is going to censor the Internet, it should do so through hard censorship. Indirect censorship strategies, he writes, are less legitimate than direct regulation.

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