Bruce Schneier, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard who specializes in computer security and cryptography, says the most important thing a person can do is to agitate for political change, since it can eventually lead to legislative change. Of course, there are practical steps consumers should take to protect their data as well.
A basic premise of a democratic society gives its citizens rights to participate in debate and effect change by taking to the streets to demonstrate. In the U.S., this is enshrined in the Bill of Rights under the First Amendment.
But what happens when we all effectively live, work, shop, date, bank and get into political debates online? Because online, as Molly Sauter points out in her book The Coming Swarm, there are no streets on which to march. “Because of the densely intertwined nature of property and speech in the online space, unwelcome acts of collective protest become also acts of trespass.”
“The notion that it’s not a backdoor; it’s a front door — that’s just wordplay,” said Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. “It just makes no sense.”
In their new book, “The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance,” Stephen Goldsmith, the Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government at Harvard Kennedy School HKS, and Susan Crawford, the John A. Reilly Visiting Professor in Intellectual Property at Harvard Law School HLS, offer a road map for managers who want to move beyond the traditional silos of urban government. By embracing the latest tools, like fiber connectivity and predictive data analytics, they posit, the city hall of the future could radically reshape how local government serves its citizens, improving both civic life and trust.
The study, authored by researcher Bruce Etling at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is one of the first serious explorations of Russian, Ukrainian and English language social media content regarding the turmoil there over the last eleven months.
“Our general reading of newspapers and traditional media about the protests was that Russian speakers tended to disapprove [of the protests] and Ukrainian and English speakers tended to approve, and that would then just bleed into social media,” Etling said. “We wanted to see if that was what really happened.”
“The real risk here is the second-order effects,” Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said. “The Court may have established a perfectly reasonable test in this case. But then what happens if the Brazilians come along and say, ‘We want only search results that are consistent with our laws’? It becomes a contest about who can exert the most muscle on Google.” Search companies might decide to tailor their search results in order to offend the fewest countries, limiting all searches according to the rules of the most restrictive country. As Zittrain put it, “Then the convoy will move only as fast as the slowest ship.”
If we have kill switches on consumer products, why don’t we have them on military weaponry? Jonathan Zittrain is the Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and he argues we should have a way to disable dangerous weapons at a distance.
Internet scholars and activists gathered at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard on Tuesday to discuss the right to choose how identity is presented online. The discussion was led by aestetix, an activist for pseudonymity on the Web.
“The platforms that host that content can’t readily police all of it the way that a newspaper can carefully select what should go in as a letter to the editor,” says Harvard University Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain, who is also co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
Some pre-screening of content is still done. YouTube prevents some video from being posted through a copyright-screening tool that was created after Google took over.
MIT Researcher Wants to Master the Art of Online Partying.
He’s pooling ideas from people around the country about the best ways to have a good time—even when you’re not in the same room.