Media and Information Policy Issues

by

From discussions in courses and within the Quello Center Advisory Board, the Center has been developing a set of key issues tied to media, communication and information policy and practice. We’d welcome you thoughts on issues we’ve missed or issues noted that do not merit more sustained research and debate. Your feedback on this list would be most welcome, and will be posted as comments on this post.

Quello Advisory Board Meeting

I. Innovation-led Policy Issues

New Developments around Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: What are the implications for individual control, privacy, and security? Security is no longer so clearly a cyber issue as cyber security increasingly shapes the physical world of autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots.

Internet of Things (IoT): With tens of billions of things moving online, how can individuals protect their privacy and safety and well being as their environments are monitored and controlled by their movement through space? There are likely to be implications for urban informatics, transportation and environmental systems, systems in the household, and worn (wearables above). A possible focus within this set would be on developments in households.

Wearables: What appears to be an incremental step in the IoT space could have major implications across many sectors, from health to privacy and surveillance.

The Future of Content Delivery: Content delivery, particularly around broadcasting of film and television, in the digital age: technology, business models, and social impact of the rapidly developing ecosystem, such as on localism, diversity, and quality.

Free (and Open Source) Software: The prominence and future of free as well as open source software continues to evolve. Are rules, licensing, and institutional support, such as around the Free Software Foundation, meeting the needs of this free software community?

Big Data: How can individuals protect their privacy in the age of computational analytics and increasing capture of personal data and mass surveillance? What policies or practices can be developed to guide data collection, analysis, and public awareness?

Encryption: Advances in encryption technologies at a time of increasing threats to the privacy of individual communications, such as email, could lead to a massive uptake of tools to keep private communications private. How can this development be accelerated and spread across all sectors of the Internet community?

Internet2: Just as the development of the Internet within academia has shaped the future of communications, so might the next generation of the Internet – so-called Internet2 – have even greater implications in shaping the future of research and educational networking in the first instance, but public communications in the longer-term. Who is tracking its development and potential implications?

Other Contending Issues: Drones, Cloud computing, …

II. Problem-led Initiatives

Transparency: Many new issues of the digital age, such as concerns over privacy and surveillance, are tied to a lack of transparency. What is being done with your data, by whom, and for what purposes? In commercial and governmental settings, many public concerns could be addressed to a degree through the provision of greater transparency, and the accountability that should follow.

Censorship and Internet Filtering: Internet filtering and censorship was limited to a few states at the turn of the century. But over the last decade, fueled by fear of radical extremist content, and associated fears of self-radicalization, censorship has spread to most nation states. Are we entering a new digital world in which Internet content filtering is the norm? What can be done to mitigate the impact on freedom of expression and freedom of connection?

Psychological Manipulation: Citizen and consumers are increasingly worried about the ways in which they can be manipulated by advertising, (fake) news, social media and more that leads them to vote, buy, protest, or otherwise act in ways that the purveyors of the new propaganda of the digital age would like. While many worried about propaganda around the mass media, should there be comparable attention given to the hacking of psychological processes by the designers of digital media content? Is this a critical focus for consumer protection?

(In)Equities in Access: Inequalities in access to communication and information services might be growing locally and globally, despite the move to digital media and ICTs. The concept of a digital divide may no longer be adequate to capture these developments.

Privacy and Surveillance: The release of documents by Edward Snowden has joined with other events to draw increasing attention to the threats of mass unwarranted surveillance. It has been an enduring issue, but it is increasingly clear that developments heretofore perceived to be impossible are increasingly feasible and being used to monitor individuals. What can be done?

ICT4D or Internet for Development: Policy and technology initiatives in communication to support developing nations and regions, both in emergency responses, such as in relation to infectious diseases, or around more explicit economic development issues.

Digital Preservation: Despite discussion over more than a decade, it merits more attention, and stronger links with policy developments, such as ‘right to forget’. ‘Our cultural and historical records are at stake.’

III. Enduring Policy Issues Reshaped by Digital Media and Information Developments

Media Concentration and the Plurality of Voices: Trends in the diversity and plurality of ownership, and sources of content, particularly around news. Early work on media concentration needs new frameworks for addressing global trends on the Web, with new media, in print media, automated text generation, and more.

Diversity of Content: In a global Internet context, how can we reasonably quantify or address issues of diversity in local and national media? Does diversity become more important in a digital age in which individuals will go online or on satellite services if the mainstream media in a nation ignore content of interest to their background?

Privacy and Privacy Policy: Efforts to balance security, surveillance and privacy, post-Snowden, and in wake of concerns over social media, and big data. White House work in 2014 on big data and privacy should be considered. Policy and practice in industry v government could be a focus. Is there a unifying sector specific perspective?

Freedom of Expression: New and enduring challenges to expression in the digital age.

IV. Changing Media and Information Policy and Governance

Communication Policy: Rewrite of the 1934 Communications Act, last up-dated in 1996: This is unlikely to occur in the current political environment, but is nevertheless a critical focus.

Universal Access v Universal Service: With citizens and consumers dropping some traditional services, such as fixed line phones, how can universal service be best translated into the digital age of broadband services?

Network Neutrality: Should there be Internet fast lanes and more? Efforts to ensure the fair treatment of content, from multiple providers, through regulation has been one of the more contentious issues in the USA. To some, the issue has been ‘beaten to death’, but it has been brought to life again through the regulatory initiatives of FCC Chairman Wheeler, and more recently with the new Trump Administration, where the fate of net neutrality is problematic. Can we research the implications of this policy?

Internet Governance and Policy: Normative and empirical perspectives on governance of the Internet at the global and national level. Timely issue critical to future of the Internet, and a global information age, and rise of national Internet policy initiatives.

Acknowledgements: In addition to the Quello Advisory Board, special thanks to some of my students for their stimulating discussion that surfaced many of these issues. Thanks to Jingwei Cheng, Bingzhe Li, and Irem Yildirim, for their contributions to this list.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Muzammil Hussain on the Use of Big Data by States: China & India

by

Professor Muzammil Hussain visited the Quello Center and gave an informative talk based on his new multi-year project on ‘Bio-Social Data Innovation & Governance in Asia’ (Big-DIG). The Big-DIG project seeks to use qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to understand how IT infrastructure and big data mining strategies (e.g., bio-metrics and social credit systems, in India and China, respectively) are being developed and applied as governance and management tools by over 22 Asian countries with respect to their citizens. You can view his talk here.

Professor Hussain’s talk provided a valuable perspective on how big data approaches are fulfilling some of the functions of the longterm state dream of identification cards and national databases about citizens. These developments are quite different from the more positive visions of mining big data for social and economic development. It is certainly valuable that Muzammil’s research is putting the state role of big data in a new light, and to the attention of more development researchers.

Muzammil M. Hussain – Digital Rights from Quello Center on Vimeo.

Tags: , , , ,


Multi-stakeholder Governance Processes for Cyberspace: A Visit from Virgilio Almeida

by

The Brazilian Professor Virgilio Almeida met with my media and information policy class today via Skype. As chair of the very successful NETmundial Internet governance conference in San Paulo in 2014, and chair of Brazil’s Internet Governance Committee (CGI.br), he is particularly well placed to discuss developments around Internet governance, his topic for this class. We were fortunate to catch him while a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, where he is associated with the Berkman Center, but he was very generous with his time. Instead of organizing a meeting of over a thousand members of civil society, business, government and the technology communities, he was just as practiced in speaking to a small university seminar.

His talk spelled out the many challenges facing multi-stakeholder governance, particularly with respect to his current interests in cybersecurity. His discussion of lessons learned in organizing NETmundial was particularly engaging, specifically in how useful it seemed that he focused the conference on arriving at a set of principles and a roadmap for moving ahead. His session with my class left me with a greater sense of optimism about the prospects for multi-stakeholder governance.

images

Virgilio A. F. Almeida is a Visiting Professor at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University and Fellow of the Berkman Center. He is also a full professor of the Computer Science Department at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil.

His areas of research interest include large scale distributed system, Internet governance, social computing, autonomic computing and performance modeling and analysis. He received a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University, an MS in Computer Science, from the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro and a BS Electrical Engineering from UFMG, Brazil. He was a visiting professor at Boston University, Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona, Polytechnic Institute of NYU and held visiting appointments at Santa Fe Institute, Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratory and Xerox Research Center.

He is a former National Secretary for Information Technology Policies of the Brazilian Government (2011 to 2015). He is the chair of the Brazilian Internet Governance Committee (CGI.br). He was the chair of NETmundial, Global Multistakeholder Conference on the Future of Internet Governance, that was held in Sao Paulo in 2014.

He published over 150 technical papers and co-authored five books on performance modeling, including “Performance By Design” (2004) “Capacity Planning for Web Services” (2002), and “Scaling for E-business” (2000) published by Prentice Hall.

Tags: , , , , ,


Laura DeNardis on Internet Governance

by

Professor Laura DeNardis gave a Quello Lecture in Washington DC that updates her perspectives on the key issues facing what she refers to as the ‘destabilization’ of Internet governance. Laura is one of the world’s leading authorities on Internet policy and governance, and this video enables you to see why.

Laura DeNaris – The Destabilization of Internet Governance from Quello Center on Vimeo.

Laura was welcomed to the Quello Lecture by the Dean of MSU’s College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Professor Prabu David, and the College’s Director of Development, Meredith Jagutis.

Bill Dutton and Laura DeNardis

Bill Dutton and Laura DeNardis


Laura DeNardis with Dean Prabu David and Meredith Jagutis

Laura DeNardis with Dean Prabu David and Meredith Jaguits

Tags: , ,


Featured Publication: Governance of Social Media

by

Quello Professor Steve Wildman and Dr Jonathan Obar, a Quello Research Associate, organized a workshop on the governance of social media that has yielded an excellent special issue of Telecommunications Policy (Volume 39, Issue 9, October 2015). It features articles by the editors, as well as Philip Napoli, Laura DeNardis, Milton Mueller, and Katherine Montegomery, among others. It is a brilliant signpost of how the Quello Center is moving fully into the digital age of policy and regulation issues. You may find the special issue at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03085961/39/9
CW6o-n6WMAAX8fV

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Quello Policy Issues: Comments on Emerging Issues

by

At the last meeting of the Quello Center Advisory Board, in the late Fall of 2014, we discussed key issues tied to media, communication and information policy and practice. The following list is a snapshot of the key issues emerging from that discussion, organized by general categories. Feedback on this list would be most welcome, and will be posted as comments on this post.

 

Innovation-led Policy Issues

The Future of Content Delivery: Content delivery, particularly around broadcasting of film and television, in the digital age: technology, business models, and social impact of the rapidly developing ecosystem, such as on localism, diversity, and quality.

Wearables: What appears to be an incremental step could have major implications across many sectors, from health to privacy and surveillance.

Regulation of the Internet of Things: Implications for urban informatics, transportation and environmental systems, systems in the household, and worn (wearables above). A possible focus within this set would be on developments in households.

Internet2: Implications for shaping the future of research and educational networking.

Other Contending Issues: Big data, drones, Cloud computing, …

 

Problem-led Initiatives

(In)Equities in Access: Inequalities in access to communication and information services might be growing locally and globally, despite the move to digital media and ICTs. The concept of a digital divide may no longer be adequate to capture these developments.

ICT4D or Internet for Development: Policy and technology initiatives in communication to support developing nations and regions, both in emergency responses, such as in relation to infectious diseases, or around more explicit economic development issues.

Digital Preservation: Despite discussion over more than a decade, it merits more attention, and stronger links with policy developments, such as ‘right to forget’. ‘Our cultural and historical record are at stake.’

 

Evolving Policy Issues Reshaped by Digital Media and Information Developments

Universal Access v Universal Service: With citizens and consumers dropping some traditional services, such as fixed line phones, do we need to refocus on providing a minimal level of broadband access to everyone, independent of devices?

Concentration and the Plurality of Voices: Trends in the diversity and plurality of ownership, and sources of content, particularly around news. Early work on media concentration needs new frameworks for addressing global trends on the Web, in print media, automated text generation, and more.

Emerging Privacy Policy: Efforts to balance security, surveillance and privacy, post-Snowden, and in wake of concerns over social media, and big data. White House work in 2014 on big data and privacy should be considered. Policy and practice in industry v government could be a focus. Is there a unifying sector specific perspective?

Freedom of Expression: New and enduring challenges to expression in the digital age.

 

Media and Information Policy and Governance

Rewrite of the 1934 Communications Act, last up-dated in 1996: This is unlikely to occur in the current political environment, but is nevertheless a critical focus.

Network Neutrality: Should there be Internet fast lanes and more? Issue has been ‘beaten to death’, but brought to life again through the public statements of Chairman Wheeler and President Obama. Huge implications for better or worse.

Future of Internet Governance: Normative and empirical perspectives on governance of the Internet at the global and national level. Timely issue critical to future of the Internet, and a global information age, and rise of national Internet policy initiatives.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Avshalom Ginosar, Visiting Fellow at the Quello Center

by

Avshalom Ginosar, a Senior Lecturer in Israel, is visiting MSU’s Department of Media and Information this year, focusing his research on media governance, policy and regulation, all topics aligned well with the Quello Center, where Avshalom will be based.

Avshalom most recently developed a framework for classifying and analyzing media systems based on the concept of governance as conceived in public policy theory. He is studying the positions and perceptions of media regulators with respect to the public interest(s) they should preserve and promote. This has been an enduring issue for US regulation, and therefore promises to be of interest to faculty and students of regulation in the US. His past research focused more on the regulation of advertising, with his PhD dissertation focused on product placement in regulatory policies of the EU, Canada and Israel.

He is also interested in the Internet, and its regulation. One research project on this issue focused on the different positions of surfers’ versus industry representatives on the preferred mode and content of online advertising regulation. His current research (in collaboration with Dr. Yaron Ariel) on Internet regulation deals with privacy on the Internet, investigating the relationships between knowledge-understanding-and perceptions regarding privacy with reference to different types of Internet sites (such as governmental, commercial, and institutional). They are collecting data from the general public as well as sites managers, policy makers and regulators.

Another field of interest for Avsha is journalism, particularly around the concept of ‘patriotic journalism’. He is currently writing a paper that addresses patriotic journalism not only in the context of wars or during other national crises, where most of the research on this topic is centered, but also in more typical or normal contexts.

Avshalom Ginosar, Visiting Fellow at the Quello Center

Avshalom Ginosar, Visiting Fellow at the Quello Center

Avsha Ginosar received his Ph.D. in 2011 in Public Policy from the University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel, after a career in journalism, having completed his B.A. in International Relations in 1982 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication of The Academic College of Yezreel Valley, Israel.

Tags: , , , , , ,