Archive for August, 2010
Net neutrality seems to be one of the most widely discussed topics right now; with the main issues and arguments surrounding it changing daily. The reasoning – how do you start to put restrictions on something that has never had restrictions? Who do you delegate power to? Who do you hold responsible to enforce these? Who do you put in power to create/make these rules?
Two points surrounding this discussion, ACTA and ISPs monitoring customers, concern me greatly.
Currently the government wants to pass an international agreement that goes by the name of Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement, or the ACTA. What does this name mean? In short, anything and everything you want it to. It is kind of like one of those pop drinks “swamp water” that you used to (or still do) make from fountain soda… the one where all the pop from every spout gets mixed together to make a super pop. No, seriously… the main goal of the ACTA is to combat international counterfeiting and piracy. As anyone who has visited street markets around the world knows, international piracy and counterfeiting is a huge problem. It hurts legitimate businesses and can contribute to organized crime and unsafe products. The problem is that the ACTA is vague which leaves a lot of opportunities to work in special components. For instance – the ACTA is trying to make ISPs responsible for what their home and business users are downloading. This is where problems start to form. The way things have worked in the past is that if illegal activity is suspected, then an official court-ordered subpoena, limited to the specific user and activity at issue, is provided to the user’s ISP. The ISP can then help the enforcement agency “get the bad guys” without compromising the integrity of their network or the security and privacy of the accounts for their other users. The legal subpoena process protects everyone’s privacy while allowing the enforcement agency access to the possible illegal files.
If ISPs become responsible for what their users are transmitting we can say goodbye to any and all user privacy including the very legitimate privacy needs of companies who now depend on the Internet for their day-to-day business activities.
The amount of information transmitted over the Internet daily is mind boggling. To do the types of things suggested as part of the ACTA will require substantial amounts of new gear, space, power, bandwidth and engineering time to monitor users.
Having ISPs monitor their users would be like cell phone companies actively monitoring all their customers calls for any hint of illegal activity. The moment the phone company detected anything remotely illegal, it would have to take action against the user just to avoid any possibility of being held legally responsible for what their customer said or did or planned.
It seems like as we try and make forward progress towards regulations like ACTA we are actually moving away from the potential the Internet has to connect us and be the invisible catalyst for bringing people together. We are also handicapping its use as an effective tool for businesses. Unless we stand up for our own freedoms online, we can rest assured that they will slowly become more restricted. We all in some way, shape or form interact with the Internet. We all in some way, shape or form should care about our privacy…
For further information on this topic check out these links:
The mother of all mothers “ipMom” has gained yet another new feature.
Thursday Evening I attended the public hearing held by Free Press at Minneapolis South High School.
Full of dignitaries and speeches, I was impressed by both Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Senator Al Franken breadth of knowledge on what this highly charged but reasonably simple issue could mean to me, Minnesota and the nation.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend She’s Geeky, an unConference targeting women in the fields of Science, Math and Technology. ipHouse was one of the corporate sponsors for She’s Geeky and I was very curious about what these tech women would have to say. I had been to Minnebar a couple months ago and found it very interesting. At Minnebar, a lot of the sessions were set up online before the unConference started and people were able to choose if they would want to present or just be an observer (observers do participate heavily though). We were then able to see what our options for sessions were, before even attending.
She’s Geeky was set up similar to Minnebar’s unConference except that sessions and presentations were created at the conference instead of in advance. I was very impressed by the subject matter and thought that there were some very intriguing topics to be discussed. The way Heidi Nobantu Saul organized the unConference made the day very relaxed and open to learning in an intimate format.
The first session that I attended was about the book and way of life called, “Getting things Done” by David Allen. I had never heard of this process and I was quite intrigued. Basically, what I learned from the discussion (which Meghan Wilker hosted) was that in our daily lives there are tons of missed opportunities to get things done because of procrastination and poor time management. I have always felt like the lists are swirling around in my brain and they do not ever get to where they are supposed to go, completely. This is why, as I was listening to Meghan explain the system of getting things done and what she has learned from David Allen, my eyes widened and I was saying to myself (maybe out loud) “there is a way to get things done?”. I actually went out and purchased the audio book today because I was just so taken with the method of time management. Meghan went through and showed us how she goes about organizing and using custom lists/folders to prioritize. I can not help but think this is a little intense, never the less, I want to try it for myself.
Another interesting session that I chose to attend was that of entrepreneurial women. The session leader was Jacque Urick. Jacque has just started a gaming company, designed for women. She herself is a gamer and thinks that companies are not targeting women like they should be. Jacque had some very useful stories, both horrific and encouraging. A lot of women in the session were freelancers, start ups or had an amazing idea and did not know where to start. Through out this session, I heard a lot of wisdom from women who have been trailblazers in fields that overall, are still male dominated. These women have hard shells and are ready to take on the world. (I did not realize coming in, just how many lawyers are involved in taking on the job of owning an idea, system or product, as well as funding it!) I felt extremely inspired and the recommendations that the different women gave will always be immensely appreciated. I think that those that shared their stories helped others seek an inner strength to do something they believe in.
The unConference was a true success and I met so many amazingly smart and talented women. I was pleased that ipHouse sponsored this event and that I was able to attend!