November 2011

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

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danah boyd,┬áSenior 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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