Friday, March 30, 2012

In Age of Gadgets, Doctors Try To Keep Human Touch

Neergaard, Lauran. "In Age of Gadgets, Doctors Try To Keep Human Touch." USA Today, March 29, 2012.

From the article: "As the United States moves to paperless medicine, doctors are grappling with an awkward challenge: How do they tap the promise of computers, smartphones and iPads in the exam room without losing the human connection with their patients? Are the gadgets a boon or a distraction?...Across the country at Stanford University this summer, medical students will bring a school-issued iPad along as they begin their bedside training — amid cautions not to get so lost in all the on-screen information that they pay too little attention to the patient.

Face your patient, excuse yourself to check the screen and put away the gadget when you don't really need it, say Stanford guidelines that specialists say make sense for physicians everywhere. And, of course, no personal Internet use in front of a patient.

Electronic health records, or EHRs, are considered the future of health care for good reason — they can help prevent medical errors. For example, the systems can warn if doctors are about to prescribe a drug that could interact badly with another one the patient already uses. As these computerized charts become more sophisticated, they also have the potential to spur more efficient care: no more getting another X-ray just because you forgot to bring in your last scan if the doctor can call it up digitally." Read more

Huge Genetic Data Set Open To Public

Robeznieks, Andis and Christine LaFave Grace. “Huge Genetic Data Set Open To Public.” Modern Healthcare, March 29, 2012.

From the article: "Researchers worldwide now have public access to an enormous database of information on human genetic variation, officials from the National Institutes of Health and a public-private research collaboration announced Thursday. The database was produced by the 1000 Genomes Project, an international research consortium started in 2008 and supported by the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and numerous not-for-profit institutes and genetic-research companies. It represents the "world's largest set of data on human genetic variation," according to an NIH news release.

NIH officials and Amazon Web Services representatives announced the data set's availability at an event hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington. Also at the event, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the launch of the public-private Big Data Research and Development Initiative, which will commit more than $200 million and the resources of at least six federal agencies, including the NIH and the Energy and Defense departments, to develop technologies needed to analyze large data sets, according to the release." Read more

See Also
Tom. Big Data is a Big Deal.” Office of Science and Technology Policy, March 29, 2012.

Press release, “1000 Genomes Project data available on Amazon Cloud.” National Human Genome Research Institute, March 29, 2012.

2010 International Telecommunications Data

“2010 International Telecommunications Data.” Strategic Analysis and Negotiations Division, Multilateral Negotiations and Industry Analysis Branch, International Bureau, Federal Communications Commission. October 31, 2011.

From the Press Release: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today released an annual report entitled 2010 International Telecommunications Data regarding international message telephone, private line and miscellaneous services between the United States and other countries.

Statistical Findings
  • The per-minute charge to U.S. consumers for this traffic fell 19% from $0.08 per minute in 2009 to $0.06 per minute in 2010. From 2000 to 2010, the charge has decreased 87%, from $0.47 per minute to $0.06 per minute.
  • International “U.S.-billed” traffic – primarily traffic originating in the United States – decreased 14.5%, from 72.9 billion minutes in 2009 to 62.4 billion minutes in 2010. This is the first year there has been a decrease in U.S. – billed minutes of this magnitude.
  • Of the top ten countries with the most U.S.-billed minutes, India was the only country where traffic increased in 2010. U.S.–billed minutes to India increased 17% from 13.6 billion in 2009 to 15.9 billion in 2010.
  • Total U.S.-billed revenues for international telephone, private line and other miscellaneous services (e.g., frame relay/ATM, packet switching, switched Ethernet, TDM/TDMA, virtual private network, and virtual private line decreased collectively 30%, from $6.6 billion in 2009 to $4.6 billion in 2010. Read more

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Supreme Court: Man Can't Sue Feds For Sharing Medical Records

Muskal, Michael. “Supreme Court: Man Can't Sue Feds For Sharing Medical Records.” Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2012.

From the article: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a California pilot who tried to hide that he was HIV-positive cannot sue for emotional distress after two federal agencies shared the man's medical information.

In a 5-3 opinion, the court’s conservative majority upheld the federal government’s immunity from liability for a person who claims mental anguish or emotional distress, but who suffers no damage, such as loss of income.

The decision reverses a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that had struck down a ruling by a lower court in San Francisco.

"We hold that the Privacy Act does not unequivocally authorize an award of damages for mental or emotional distress,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the majority including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. "Accordingly, the act does not waive the federal government's sovereign immunity from liability for such harms." Read more

Patient Monitoring Market Pegged At $4.2B By 2018

Monegain, Bernie. “Patient Monitoring Market Pegged At $4.2B By 2018.” Health IT News, March 28, 2012.

From the article: "The U.S. patient monitoring market, valued at more than $3.1 billion in 2011 is expected to grow to nearly $4.2 billion by 2018, according to to a new report by iData Research.

Researchers say the growth will be driven by the rapid adoption of wireless ambulatory telemetry monitors, and low-acuity vital signs monitors as well as telehealth for both remote monitoring of chronic conditions and for patients with cardiac implantable devices. Traditional monitoring products including multi-parameter vital signs monitoring, telemetry, fetal and neonatal monitoring will continue to grow to replace outdated systems." Read more

Nearly 1 Billion Smart Connected Devices Shipped in 2011 with Shipments Expected to Double by 2016, According to IDC

“Nearly 1 Billion Smart Connected Devices Shipped in 2011 with Shipments Expected to Double by 2016, According to IDC.” International Data Corporation, March 28, 2012.

From the article: "The universe of smart connected devices, including PCs, media tablets, and smartphones, saw shipments of more than 916 million units and revenues surpassing $489 billion dollars in 2011, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC)…Looking ahead, unit shipments for smart connected devices should top 1.1 billion worldwide in 2012. By 2016, IDC predicts shipments will reach 1.84 billion units, more than double the 2011 figure, as consumers and business of all shapes and sizes around the world are showing a nearly insatiable appetite for smart connected devices. This works out to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4% for the five-year forecast period." Read more

Vint Cerf Attacks European Internet Policy

Warman, Matt. “Vint Cerf Attacks European Internet Policy.” The Telegraph, March 29, 2012.

From the article: "Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the modern web, has condemned a central plank of European proposals to regulate the internet as impractical to enforce and 'terrifying' in prospect… (he) said that the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ online was "not possible to achieve." He told The Telegraph, "You can’t go out and remove content from everybody’s computer just because you want the world to forget about something. I don’t think it’s a practical proposition at all."… He added that "The analogue [equivalent of this digital idea] is terrifying; if somebody said 'I want everyone to forget about this book that I published because it's embarrassing', how would you implement that? You would have to break in to people's homes and take the book off the bookshelves. There's some legal issues with that and it seems to me that it shouldn’t be any easier in the online world." Read more

The Emerging Conflict between Newsworthiness and the Right to Be Forgotten

McNealy, Jasmine E. “The Emerging Conflict betweenNewsworthiness and the Right to Be Forgotten.” Northern Kentucky Law Review, March 22, 2012.

From the abstract: "In early 2010 it was reported that the some of the nations of the European Union were considering passing legislation aimed a protecting an individual's "right to be forgotten." The right to be forgotten is such that a person's past deeds, though chronicled and now available on the Internet, were considered private. Therefore, any person could demand that the possessor of this information erase it or face a lawsuit.

Although EU members hail the creation of this right to be forgotten as improving individual privacy rights, such a right creates a problem for American online news organizations. Not only does such law come into direct conflict with protections found in the First Amendment, but it also conflicts with traditional privacy jurisprudence, which states that information made public cannot become private again. At the same time, Americans seem to be attempting to assert a right to be forgotten. For instance, a man threatened to sue a college newspaper that had articles reporting on the misdeeds of his son in its online archives.

This paper analyzes the emerging conflict that recognizing a right to be forgotten online would have with American jurisprudence regarding the role of the press, both traditional and online, as a watchdog for the public as well as with traditional U.S. privacy policy. Section two attempts to examine the boundaries of the right to be forgotten from both theoretical and EU perspectives. Section three considers traditional U.S privacy law and some of the contours of that law including the protection for newsworthy information. Section four analyzes the right to be forgotten with respect to the protections for free expression detailed in Section three. This paper concludes with a consideration of how the right to be forgotten would not fit with traditional U.S. privacy jurisprudence."  Read more

Virtual Inequality

Penney, Jonathon. “Virtual Inequality.” Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property, Vol. 10, No. 3, February 28, 2011.

From the abstract: "Freedom, liberty, and autonomy are the ideals mainly associated with Internet's first generation of thinkers, writers and "netizens," those who helped forge the Internet and the early technological and intellectual foundations of the idea of “cyberspace.” These ideas were, says Lawrence Lessig, the “founding values of the Net” and inspired an entire generation of scholarship focused on preserving the free and open nature of the Internet’s culture and architecture. But what has anyone to say about equality? Few, if any, Internet scholars today focus on equality as a similar value to be promoted or achieved. Returning to some of the early influential Internet texts, this Article argues that equality was also heralded as another important value that the Internet could promote, but has since been largely neglected, including the ways that the Internet can actually promote or entrench inequality. It then offers reasons for this neglect -- such as the predominance and influence of libertarian oriented "cyber-utopian" works -- and provides an account of the different challenges for equality and distributive justice in relation to the Internet, including inequalities of ICT access, connectivity, security, and experience in online communities. It concludes with a discussion of measures to help address these digital divides." Read more

Transparency With(out) Accountability: The Effects of the Internet on the Administrative State

Shkabatur, Jennifer. “Transparency With(out) Accountability: The Effects of the Internet on the Administrative State.” Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 31, No. 1. March 25, 2012.

From the abstract: "Regulatory transparency is traditionally regarded as the primary means for strengthening the public accountability of administrative agencies. However, the effectiveness of transparency policies is undermined by agencies’ resistance to public exposure and lack of public engagement. The introduction of technology into regulatory transparency policies is often envisioned as a powerful game-changer that could overcome these past hurdles. This Article challenges this common perspective, complicating the marriage between transparency, technology, and public accountability.

First, the Article develops a new analytic typology of online transparency policies: a) mandatory transparency (e.g., e-rulemaking and online disclosure of federal spending), b) discretionary transparency (online release of governmental databases), and c) involuntary transparency (regulatory reaction to online leaks of information). Analyzing the effects of these policies on the public accountability of federal agencies, the Article demonstrates that both their design and implementation are flawed. They do not account for agencies’ resistance to exposure, reinforce traditional pitfalls of transparency policies, and fail to strengthen public accountability.

Against this backdrop, the Article advocates a major reappraisal of online regulatory transparency in the United States. It argues that transparency policies should be goal-oriented and more narrowly tailored to target accountability-related information. As part of this, agencies should be required to release structured information on their decision-making processes and performance. This transparency regime should be complemented with effective institutional and civil society-oriented enforcement measures - an element which is currently missing from the architecture of regulatory transparency. The Article examines the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed transparency regime and discusses the role of the internet in this framework." Read more

'Less is More': New Property Paradigm in the Information Age

Anand, Aarthi. "Less is More : New Property Paradigm in the Information Age." Duke Law & Technology Review, Vol. 11, No. 65, March 20, 2012.  

From the abstract: "Before striking down laws increasing copyright’s domain, judges and legislators are asking for evidence that information products will be created even if copyright protection is not provided. The future of Internet technology depends on locating this evidence in time to limit expansive copyright. United States law, however, already protects information products under copyright. Hence, this counterfactual evidence that judges request cannot be generated in the United States. In response to the demand for data, American legal scholars have attempted to mine evidence from open software and other non-commercial endeavors on the Internet. However, these endeavors have been dismissed as exceptions or "cults," unrelated to mainstream industry needs.

This Article, for the first time, provides evidence of growth in the commercial software industry without intellectual property protection. Between 1993 and 2010, the software industry in India emerged as the fastest growing in the world, accounting for $76 billion in revenues by 2010. In the same time period, the software industry in India remained unaffected by changes in intellectual property protection for software. By demonstrating industry growth without strong intellectual property protections, the Indian data fills the critical gap in American literature."  Read more

U.S. Outgunned in Hacker War

Barrett, Devlin. “U.S. Outgunned in Hacker War.” The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2012.

From the article: "The Federal Bureau of Investigation's top cyber cop offered a grim appraisal of the nation's efforts to keep computer hackers from plundering corporate data networks: "We're not winning," he said. Shawn Henry, who is preparing to leave the FBI after more than two decades with the bureau, said in an interview that the current public and private approach to fending off hackers is "unsustainable.'' Computer criminals are simply too talented and defensive measures too weak to stop them, he said.

His comments weren't directed at specific legislation but came as Congress considers two competing measures designed to buttress the networks for critical U.S. infrastructure, such as electrical-power plants and nuclear reactors. Though few cybersecurity experts disagree on the need for security improvements, business advocates have argued that the new regulations called for in one of the bills aren't likely to better protect computer networks." Read more

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ACLU: New Domestic Intelligence Rules Undermine Privacy, Security

Smith, Josh. "ACLU: New Domestic Intelligence Rules Undermine Privacy, Security." National Journal, March 23, 2012.

From the article: "New Justice Department rules allowing the government to retain domestic intelligence for up to five years not only infringe privacy, they could end up endangering national security, civil liberties advocates warned on Friday…. The idea is to give law enforcement and intelligence officials time to revisit information, but the American Civil Liberties Union says the rules could return the U.S. to the days of discredited Bush-era proposals…. Beyond the privacy implications, by expanding the amount of information retained, officials could find themselves overwhelmed with data, he said. "Making the haystack bigger will only make it harder to find the needle, endangering both privacy and security." Read more

Web Address Controversy Deepens After U.S. Warning

Prodhan, Georgina. "Web Address Controversy Deepens After U.S. Warning." Reuters, March 23, 2012.

From the article: "The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) depends on its U.S. government contract to coordinate the unique addresses that tell computers where to find each other, without which the global Internet could not function.

But this month the government warned that the non-profit body's rules against conflicts of interest were not strong enough and only temporarily extended ICANN's contract - which it has held since its formation in 1998 - instead of renewing it as many in the industry had expected.

A failure to secure the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract would severely damage ICANN's ability to implement its address expansion program, the most radical move in the organization's history.” Read more

House Committee Okays Latest Version of GOFA

Feinberg, Andrew. "House Committee Okays Latest Version of GOFA." The Hill, March 27, 2012.

From the article: “The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights approved by voice vote the latest iteration of the Global Online Freedom Act. The bill, which now moves to consideration by the full Foreign Affairs Committee, was actually a substitute amendment offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who is the bill's main sponsor.

The amended bill adds a safe-harbor provision exempting companies that participate in the Global Network Initiative from the bill's requirement to report interactions with foreign governments to the Securities and Exchange Commission…. This bill is a "dramatic step forward," said a senior Smith staffer, because it removes the "more onerous" requirements to report to the Justice department or face criminal penalties -- provisions that had been the centerpiece of previous editions. Instead, this year's bill errs on the side of transparency and corporate social responsibility. The criminal provisions were the source of much of the criticism previous versions of the bill received, and were a likely reason the bill hadn't advanced far in recent years.” Read more

The Drone Threat -- In the U.S.

Villasenor, John. "The Drone Threat -- In the U.S.." The Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2012.

From the Op-Ed: “President Obama signed a sweeping aviation bill in February that will open American airspace to "unmanned aircraft systems," more commonly known as drones. Much of the recent discussion about the coming era of domestic drones, which will include those operated by companies and individuals, has been focused on privacy questions. However, drone proliferation also raises another issue that has received far less attention: the threat that they could be used to carry out terrorist attacks.” Read more

McCaul, Langevin Raise Fears Of UN Internet Regulation

Smith, Josh. "McCaul, Langevin Raise Fears Of UN Internet Regulation." National Journal, March 27, 2012.

From the article: “Will the United Nations try to regulate the Internet? At least two members of Congress think that's a possibility. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., introduced a resolution on Tuesday that would urge the United States representative to the U.N. to oppose any plan that could lead to international regulation of the Internet. "Any action taken by the United Nations to attempt to limit Americans' right to free and open Internet content is unacceptable," McCaul said in a statement.The pair cited a September letter from China, Russian, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan stating their plan to introduce a U.N. resolution on Internet governance.” Read more

EU Lawmakers Back New Deal On Sharing Air Passenger Data

Torello, Alessandro. "EU Lawmakers Back New Deal On Sharing Air Passenger Data." The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2012.

From the article: “European Union lawmakers narrowly agreed Tuesday to allow the personal data of air passengers to be transferred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Tuesday's vote is a step forward on a highly controversial issue that's been putting the EU Parliament at odds with U.S. lawmakers for years.  Supporters of the legislation say Passenger Name Records, or PNR sharing will help security agencies track passengers and identify those who pose a security risk.  But the sharing of PNR data has raised concerns about the safeguarding of sensitive personal information of EU nationals. Sophie in 't Veldt, a member of the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats in the EU Parliament, said that pressure from the U.S. was a contributing factor for members of the committee to pass the bill.” Read more (subscription may be required)

See Also
Brand, Constant. "MEPs Back Passenger Data Deal with US.", March 27, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012: The Year of Meaningful Use

Mostashari, Farzad and Marilyn Tavenner. "2012: The Year of Meaningful Use." HealthITBuzz, March 26, 2012.

From the opinion: "Health IT plays a central role in building a 21st Century health care system—where care is safer, better coordinated, and patient-centered, where we pay for the right care, not just more care. Increasing the adoption and use of health IT is crucial, so we’ve set an ambitious goal for 2012: get 100,000 health care providers paid under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs by year’s end. For us to succeed, we need you—the states and our many other health IT partners—to join us in this effort." Read more

Confirmed: The Internet Does Not Solve Global Inequality

Madrigal, Alexis. "Confirmed: The Internet Does Not Solve Global Inequality." The Atlantic, March 26, 2012.

From the article: "If you live in a rich country, the Internet has probably changed the way you consume (and produce) information. But when you look at global-scale knowledge production, things are as they ever were: the Anglophone world dominates with the United States doing the lion's share of academic and user-generated publishing.

Those are the messages of the Oxford Internet Institute's new e-book, Geographies of the World's Knowledge, from which these two graphics were drawn. In the book's foreword, Corinne Flick of the Convoco Foundation reluctantly concludes that the Internet has not delivered on the hopes that it would make knowledge "more accessible." Read more

See Also
Graham, Mark, Monica Stephens, Scott A. Hale & Kunika Kono. Geographies of the World's Knowledge. Oxford Internet Institute, March 7, 2012. iTunes edition.

Decentralizing the Analysis of Health Data

Decentralizing the Analysis of Health Data, Center for Democracy & Technology, March 22, 2012.

From the report: "As the digitization of health records makes it easier and more cost effective to share and analyze health data, policymakers and businesses are increasingly looking to use health data for secondary purposes – uses beyond that for which the health data were originally collected. For example, health data that were primarily collected for treatment or payment can be valuable for such secondary uses as population-scale research and public health surveillance. Done properly, many secondary uses of health data can provide substantial benefits to patients and aid the creation of a more effective, information-driven health care system. Secondary use initiatives should be undertaken in a way that maximizes the confidentiality and security of patient data and preserves the trust of both health care providers and the public. While a strong policy framework based on Fair Information Practices is critical to achieve this balance, the technical architecture of information exchange – which is the focus of this paper – is another important factor. Currently, many government programs using health claims for secondary purposes collect and retain the data in a centralized fashion. The key message of this paper is that decentralized alternatives can achieve most secondary use program goals in a manner that is more protective of privacy and security in the long term." Read more

E-Health Records: Are We Safe(r) Yet?

From the article: "Electronic health records haven't exactly been touted as health care's Holy Grail. But there are high expectations for the technology's ability to fix some of health care's major comorbidities -- information unavailability, poor interprovider communication and inconsistent (or no) documentation -- and thereby improve patient safety across the board. Too high, some experts claim. … Those unreasonable expectations are one factor in some safety problems emerging in the EHR realm. Drug-dosing errors resulting from weight-conversion or -limit features, medication list discrepancies among systems, treatment delays resulting from faulty provider-computer interaction and important free-text comments that don't cross interfaces are among the hazards increasingly being reported." Read more

FTC Issues Final Commission Report on Protecting Consumer Privacy

FTC Issues Final Commission Report on Protecting Consumer Privacy, press release from the Federal Trade Commission, March 26, 2012.

From the press release: The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's chief privacy policy and enforcement agency, issued a final report setting forth best practices for businesses to protect the privacy of American consumers and give them greater control over the collection and use of their personal data. In the report, "Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers," the FTC also recommends that Congress consider enacting general privacy legislation, data security and breach notification legislation, and data broker legislation…. The final privacy report expands on a preliminary staff report the FTC issued in December 2010. The final report calls on companies handling consumer data to implement recommendations for protecting privacy, including:
  • Privacy by Design - companies should build in consumers' privacy protections at every stage in developing their products. These include reasonable security for consumer data, limited collection and retention of such data, and reasonable procedures to promote data accuracy;
  • Simplified Choice for Businesses and Consumers - companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom. This should include a Do-Not-Track mechanism that would provide a simple, easy way for consumers to control the tracking of their online activities.
  • Greater Transparency - companies should disclose details about their collection and use of consumers' information, and provide consumers access to the data collected about them.
See Also

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cultural Protectionism 2.0: Updating Cultural Policy Tools for the Digital Age

Burri, Mira. “Cultural Protectionism 2.0: Updating Cultural Policy Tools for the Digital Age.” Transnational Culture In The Internet Age, March 13, 2012.

From the abstract: This chapter explores cultural protectionism 2.0, i.e. the normative dimensions of cultural diversity policies in the global digital space, asking what adjustments are needed and in fact, how feasible the entire project of diversity regulation in this environment may be. The complexities of the shift from offline to online and from analogue to digital, and the inherent policy challenges are illustrated with some (positive and negative) instances of existing media initiatives. Taking into account the specificities of cyberspace and in a forward-looking manner, the chapter suggests some adjustments to current media policy practices in order to better serve the goal of sustainably diverse cultural environment. Read more

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Future of Apps and Web

Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, The Future of Apps and Web, Pew Internet and American Life Project, March 23, 2012.

From the report: "A high-impact cover story in Wired magazine in 2010 asserted in its title: “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”1 Authors Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argued that the World Wide Web was “in decline” and “apps” were in ascendance. This is not just a debate about technology use and which businesses will prevail. It involves different visions of the way that people will access information, learn, amuse themselves, and create material with others in the digital era…. The Pew Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center invited experts and Internet stakeholders to predict where things might be by the end of the decade. They were asked to take sides in the apps vs. Web debate by choosing among alternative visions of where things will stand in 2020. A number of survey participants who are most attuned to the nuances of this particular issue responded that the outcome will be a mix; they said apps and the Web are converging in the cloud. Some argued that the language framing the question did not frame the issue well.  While most people agreed with the statement that the Web will generally be stronger than ever by 2020, many who chose that view noted that it is more their hope than their firm prediction. Some 35% disagreed that the Web would be in better shape, and a number of survey participants said the outcome will be a combination of both scenarios." Read more

U.S. Relaxes Limits on Use of Data in Terror Analysis

Savage, Charlie. "U.S. Relaxes Limits on Use of Data in Terror Analysis." The New York Times, March 22, 2012.

From the article:  "The Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may retrieve, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday signed new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center, which was created in 2004 to foster intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse.

The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.

Intelligence officials on Thursday said the new rules have been under development for about 18 months, and grew out of reviews launched after the failure to connect the dots about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” before his Dec. 25, 2009, attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner." Read more

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Perils of Classifying Social Media Platforms as Public Utilities

Thierer, Adam D., The Perils of Classifying Social Media Platforms as Public Utilities, March 15, 2012.

From the abstract: "To the extent public utility-style regulation has been debated within the Internet policy arena over the past decade, the focus has been almost entirely on the physical layer of the Internet. The question has been whether Internet service providers should be considered “essential facilities” or “natural monopolies” and regulated as public utilities. The debate over “net neutrality” regulation has been animated by such concerns.

While that debate still rages, the rhetoric of public utilities and essential facilities is increasingly creeping into policy discussions about other layers of the Internet, such as the search layer. More recently, there have been rumblings within academic and public policy circles regarding whether social media platforms, especially social networking sites, might also possess public utility characteristics. Presumably, such a classification would entail greater regulation of those sites’ structures and business practices.

Proponents of treating social media platforms as public utilities offer a variety of justifications for regulation. Amorphous “fairness” concerns animate many of these calls, but privacy and reputational concerns are also frequently mentioned as rationales for regulation. Proponents of regulation also sometimes invoke “social utility” or “social commons” arguments in defense of increased government oversight, even though these notions lack clear definition."  Read more

The Data Dividend

From the summary: "In order for big data to play their part in transforming the state, public servants need to be skilled and confident users. The right mix of technology and culture change within public services can make data a tool for public servants, rather than simply a tool for complaint. This report looks at the uses of big data, the benefits to be gained from better use, and the challenges to effective deployment of data within public services. We do not oppose the ambitions of transparency and public and civil engagement – but we argue that this must be accompanied by radical changes to how government collects and collates data so as to ensure that public servants are part of the story too." Read more

Social Media and the Activist Toolkit: User Agreements, Corporate Interests, and the Information Infrastructure of Modern Social Movements

William Lafi Youmans and Jillian C. York. "Social Media and the Activist Toolkit: User Agreements, Corporate Interests, and the Information Infrastructure of Modern Social Movements." Journal of Communication (March 2012): 1460-2466.

From the abstract: "The uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere have been credited in part to the creative use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Yet the information policies of the firms behind social media can inhibit activists and empower authoritarian regimes. Analysis of Facebook's response to Egypt's “We Are All Khaled Said” group, YouTube's policy exemption for videos coming from Syria, Moroccan loyalist response to the online presence of atheists, and the activities of the Syrian Electronic Army illustrate how prohibitions on anonymity, community policing practices, campaigns from regime loyalists, and counterinsurgency tactics work against democracy advocates. These problems arise from the design and governance challenges facing large-scale, revenue-seeking social media enterprises." Read more (registration may be required)

EU Commissioner: States Must Work Together on Cybersecurity

Baker, Jennifer. "EU Commissioner: States Must Work Together on Cybersecurity." PC World, March 21, 2012.

From the article: "Internet security cannot be left to the national security agencies said the E.U.'s digital agenda commissioner on Wednesday as she outlined her plans for a Europe-wide cybersecurity strategy.

The Commission is due to present its plan for a European Strategy for Internet Security in the third quarter of this year, but Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that under the proposals, E.U. member states will be asked to guarantee minimum capabilities to respond adequately to threats.

Kroes also wants data breach notification rules, such as in the telecoms sector, for critical information-infrastructure sectors like energy, water, finance and transport. She pointed out that the recent World Economic Forum estimated that there is a one in 10 chance of a major breakdown of critical information infrastructure in the next decade." Read more

Deciphering the Alphabet Soup of Health Reform

Knickman, James R. "Deciphering the Alphabet Soup of Health Reform." The Huffington Post, March 20, 2012.

From the opinion: "Shortly after the Affordable Care Act was passed nearly two years ago, I spent a lot of time talking to people about the key elements of the law, how it would not only expand health care coverage but also support changes to improve quality while keeping costs in check. When I talked about these delivery system reforms, my favorite joke was to put up a slide with a mermaid, a unicorn, and the words "accountable care organization" and point out that no one had ever seen any of these things in real life.

Today, we're starting to see accountable care organizations take shape, but to many of us, they remain as mysterious as mermaids. The whole alphabet soup of health care payment and delivery models is dizzying: PCMHs, HHs, BHOs, ACOs! OMG, what do all these things mean?!" Read more

Can Healthcare IT Be Like the Railroads?

Conn, Joseph. "Can Healthcare IT Be Like the Railroads?" Modern Healthcare, March 21, 2012.

From the article: "To be most effective, standards should be used by everyone; but must everyone pay for those standards?For most U.S. railroads, variability in rail gauge—the distance between the rails—is no longer a barrier it once was to the interoperability of rolling stock. With passage of the Pacific Railway Act in 1863, the federal government adopted 4 feet 8 1/2 inches as the U.S. standard gauge for the transcontinental railroad, thus promoting its widespread adoption and facilitating the movement of goods and passengers from one rail line to another.  But neither the federal government nor the rail industry needed to spend a lot of money maintaining our national rail gauge standard, largely because 4 feet 8 1/2 inches is the same distance today as it was 149 years ago.

Would that the healthcare IT industry be so lucky. Its multiple standards cost money to maintain because they must be updated frequently to keep pace with the changes in medicine and technology. That requires a process to propose those changes, vet, adopt and promulgate them." Read more

Doctors' Online Practices Need Improvement

From the article: "A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that most state medical licensing boards have reported cases of “physician violations of online professionalism,” and some of these violations have resulted in serious disciplinary actions such as license revocation or suspension.

In a survey of 68 licensing boards, researchers found that inappropriate online patient communications or sexual misconduct were reported to the boards at 69% of the 48 boards responding. Also, 63% reported cases of inappropriate practices such as Internet prescribing for patients they did not have an established clinical relationship with and 60% reported cases of online misrepresentation of credentials."  Read more

See Also

HHS Launches Twitter Public Health App Contest

Mosquera, Mary. "HHS Launches Twitter Public Health App Contest." Government Health IT, March 20, 2012.

From the article: "The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has launched a developer’s challenge to create a public health application that takes Twitter data for a specific geographic area and counts the frequency of common illness-related terms to come up with a list of top five trending illnesses for the past 24 hours.

The top-five list would be automatically delivered daily to public health practitioners at health departments via a Web-based widget.This information can then be used by the health departments to build a baseline of trend data, engage the public on trending health topics, serve as an indicator of potential health issues emerging in the population, or cross-reference other data sources." Read more

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Space Invaders: Intrusion in the Digital Age

Yakowitz, Jane. "Space Invaders: Intrusion in the Digital Age." Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 88, 2012; Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 265, March 9, 2012.

From the abstract: "The tort of intrusion upon seclusion offers the best theory to target legitimate privacy harms in the information age. This Article introduces a new taxonomy that organizes privacy regulations across four key stages of information flow — observation, capture (the creation of a record), dissemination, and use. Privacy scholars typically propose placing constraints on the dissemination and re-use of personal information, and these dominant models are at the heart of President Obama’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. But these restrictions conflict with the First Amendment and other important shared values. Instead, observation is the most promising stage for legal intervention.

Intrusion imposes liability for conduct — offensive observations. The tort is theoretically coherent and constitutionally sound because an individual’s interests in seclusion co-exist comfortably with society’s interests in data dissemination. This puts intrusion in stark contrast with other privacy models, where the alleged harm is a direct consequence of an increase in knowledge. The classic intrusion tort can adapt sensibly to new technologies when it is reduced to two essential elements: (1) an observation, (2) that is offensive. This approach vindicates privacy law’s historical roots in torts and offers a path to principled privacy regulation." Read more

Ethics Fight Over Domain Names Intensifies

Pfanner, Eric. "Ethics Fight Over Domain Names Intensifies." The New York Times, March 18, 2012.

From the article: "A boardroom dispute over ethics has broken out at the organization that maintains the Internet address system after its most important supporter, the United States government, reproached the group for governance standards said to fall short of “requirements requested by the global community.”

The Commerce Department said this month that while it was temporarily extending a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to manage the allocation of computers’ Internet protocol addresses — and the .com and .net names of Web sites associated with them — it warned the organization that it needed to tighten its rules against conflicts of interest or risk losing a central role.

Icann, as the company is known, has filled that role since 1998. The Commerce Department said it had received no suitable bids for the contract, and was temporarily extending Icann’s services for six months.

After the department’s announcement, the soon-to-depart chief of Icann, Rod Beckstrom, went on the offensive, taking an unusual public swipe at his own organization’s 21-member board." Read more

See Also
Rod Beckstrom, "Beckstrom Opening Ceremony Speech ICANN Costa Rica" (March 12, 2012).

How the Government Built Silicon Valley

From the article: "The fact that most of the innovations in Silicon Valley can trace their source back to federal support for research seems to escape these folks. In fact, Silicon Valley would still be full of apricot trees without federal support for research…. No, Silicon Valley libertarians want to deny all this. You do not need collective action, they would say, to solve problems (that is, all of us as taxpayers contributing a bit each year so that government agencies like DARPA, ARPA-E, NIH, NIST, and NSF can fund leading-edge innovation around the nation). No, just rely on the rich guys…. But for cyber-libertarians, the world is moving to self-organizing systems where people are empowered by IT networks. Big organizations — government and industry — "don't get it." (That phrase is a cyber-libertanian's favorite insult. If you don't agree with them, you just "don't get it.")… Techno-utopians base their visions on the fact that there are more scientists and engineers on the planet than ever before — and therefore there should be more innovation than ever. It is important to remember, however, that innovation is getting harder to achieve at the same rate, even with the growth of resources we throw at it." Read more

Jedi Knights of Online Privacy Strike Back at Data-mining Empires

Goodale, Gloria. "Jedi Knights of Online Privacy Strike Back at Data-mining Empires." The Christian Science Monitor, March 14, 2012.

From the article: "This has been dubbed “the year of Big Data,” meaning a time when online firms such as Facebook and Google are capitalizing on an unprecedented and vast amount of personal, user-generated information. But the rush to corral, and monetize, that data is also fast ushering in a new digital management industry built around growing worries over the loss of personal privacy…. So far, voluntary moves by players such as Facebook and Google to address privacy concerns – notably a “Do Not Track” button that has no enforcement mechanism behind it – lack teeth, say critics.

Private companies such as Los Angeles-based CloudCapture, which launched Wednesday, and Abine, which debuted its “Do Not Track Plus” application in February, see a ripe opportunity to turn the same complex technology that was developed to mine personal data into a tool consumers can use to fight its abuse." Read more

Pioneering Innovation Through Health Data Transparency

Todd Park, March 15, 2012, "Pioneering Innovation Through Health Data Transparency," The White House Open Government Initiative Blog.

From the blog entry: "As advocates across the country celebrate Sunshine Week, a time to focus on government transparency, the Department of Health and Human Services is proud of its work in spearheading greater data transparency.  Signature among our work in this area is the Health Data Initiative (HDI).  Founded in early 2010, the HDI is a three-pronged effort to publish brand new HHS data for public access; use tools to that make existing HHS data much more accessible; and energetically market and promote our data to innovators who can creatively use it as raw material to develop applications and services to improve health. Based on the principles of improved access to data from all sectors of health and healthcare, collaboration by a wide array of organizations, and participation by many individuals, HDI is a powerful emerging catalyst for change.  Remarkable insights are being gained into some of our most vexing challenges in health care, and new windows of opportunity are opening for an incredible array of data-fueled innovations that embody American ingenuity." Read more

U.S. Accelerating Cyberweapon Research

Nakashima, Ellen. "U.S. Accelerating Cyberweapon Research." The Washington Post, March 18, 2012.

From the article: "The Pentagon is accelerating efforts to develop a new generation of cyberweapons capable of disrupting enemy military networks even when those networks are not connected to the Internet, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The possibility of a confrontation with Iran or Syria has highlighted for American military planners the value of cyberweapons that can be used against an enemy whose most important targets, such as air defense systems, do not rely on Internet-based networks. But adapting such cyberweapons can take months or even years of arduous technical work." Read more

Health IT Boosts Care but Requires More Investment: CDW

Horowitz, Brian T. "Health IT Boosts Care but Requires More Investment: CDW.", March 16, 2012.  

From the press release: "The research, called "Healthcare IT Tipping Point Report," found that 84 percent of caregivers believe health care IT improves the care of patients.

For the survey, CDW interviewed 200 health care IT professionals and 202 caregivers—doctors and nurses—at large hospitals between Jan. 9 and Jan. 23. The company announced the results March 6.
About 40 percent of caregivers said health care IT gives them more time to spend with patients.  

"With well-conceived and supported health care IT, caregivers spend less time accessing and verifying information and more time using that information," Bob Rossi, vice president of CDW Healthcare, told eWEEK in an email. "Moreover, new endpoint systems put tools and information within reach of the caregiver while they are with the patient—proximity is a big advantage in utilization." 

In the survey, 85 percent of doctors and nurses believed that the information gleaned from health care IT applications would lead to better patient care, while 72 percent thought technology would make care more accurate.

Meanwhile, 68 percent of caregivers interviewed believed IT workflows could help them follow up with patients.

Despite the prospects for patient care, the report exposed some challenges for IT in health care as far as networking, storage and computing, according to Rossi." Read more

See Also
CDW Healthcare IT Tipping Point Report, CDW, March 6, 2012.

iPad Features May Accelerate Healthcare Productivity

Lewis, Nicole. "iPad Features May Accelerate Healthcare Productivity." Information Week, March 19, 2012.

From the article: "Healthcare providers who lined up with the masses this weekend to purchase the new iPad will soon discover that the world's first Bluetooth Smart-Ready tablet may improve their clinical workflow. That is because the iPad will enable healthcare providers to directly access data from Bluetooth-enabled medical home monitoring devices that collect patient data…. According to officials at the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which announced the availability of Bluetooth Smart-Ready technology for the new iPad, the greatest benefit for healthcare providers is the ability to gather patient data without hooking up the patient to a cluster of wires and machines…. Furthermore, Bluetooth technology can empower patients to keep abreast of their health and wellness. For example, individuals monitoring their fitness can record their workout analytics (heart rate, distance, speed, elevation, etc.) on an app that talks to their Bluetooth-enabled heart-rate monitor. Diabetics can monitor their blood sugar levels from their Bluetooth-enabled glucose meter through an iPad app. Patients can see a chart of their blood sugar levels over the past six months on their new iPad (in full high definition) and show it to their doctor." Read more

Can Health Care Orgs Maintain Trust With Electronic Records?

Savitz, Eric. "Can Health Care Orgs Maintain Trust With Electronic Records?" Forbes, March 19, 2012.

From the article: "You don’t want your personal health information to spread virally around the Internet. Save that for the talking baby videos on YouTube.

The truth is, the electronic health information of millions of patients can be breached in a matter of seconds. As the industry moves from paper records to electronic health records (EHR), protected health information (PHI) is now more susceptible to exposure than ever.The White House just published the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, stating that “trust is essential to maintaining the social and economic benefits that networked technologies bring to the United States and the rest of the world.” Trust is a precious thing. Trust is the cornerstone of solid doctor-patient relationships. We also trust that our health-care providers will protect our confidential patient information. That trust is at the core of the viability of our health care delivery system. Without it, the entire industry will crumble and put patients at risk. Yet as the industry moves toward EHR adoption, that trust is being seriously tested." Read more

The Value Of Data Privacy To Consumers? About 65 Cents.

Roberts, Paul. "The Value Of Data Privacy To Consumers? About 65 Cents." Threat Post, March 14, 2012.

From the article: "What is the value of data privacy to online shoppers? About 65 cents, according to a new study of by researchers in Britain and Germany.

From the report: "Study on Monetising Privacy: An Economic Model for Pricing Personal Information" was released in February and presents the results of work by researchers from DIW Berlin, the German Institute for Economic Research, and the University of Cambridge in the UK. The study was sponsored and released by ENISA, the European Network and Information Sharing Agency. In it, researchers found that consumers consistently prefer companies that protect the privacy of their data over companies that don't. Unfortunately, that preference for privacy wasn't very strong. Online consumers in the ENISA-sponsored test were reluctant to spend more than a €.50 (.$65) premium to protect information like their e-mail address and cell phone number from marketers, researchers found, suggesting that the intrinsic value of privacy protections is low for most consumers." Read more

See Also
Somini Sengupta, March 19, 2012, "What Would You Pay for Privacy?," The New York Times Bits Blog.

Dr. Nicola Jentzsch, Sören Preibusch, and Andreas Harasser, Study on Monetising Privacy. An Economic Model for Pricing Personal Information, European Network and Information Security Agency report, February 28, 2012.

Google in New Privacy Probes

Angwin, Julia. "Google in New Privacy Probes." The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2012.

From the article: "Regulators in the U.S. and European Union are investigating Google Inc. GOOG -0.08% for bypassing the privacy settings of millions of users of Apple Inc.'s AAPL +0.81% Safari Web browser, according to people familiar with the investigations. Google stopped the practice last month after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal. The investigations—which span U.S. federal and state agencies, as well as a pan-European effort led by France—could embroil Google in years of legal battles and result in hefty fines for privacy violations. The Journal in February reported that Google was using special computer code to install tiny tracking files, or "cookies," on some people's computers, iPhones and iPads, even if the devices were set to block this kind of tracking." Read more

How Super-Connectivity Kills Economics

Davidow, Bill. "How Super-Connectivity Kills Economics." The Atlantic, March 20, 2012.

From the opinion: "For those of you who have been following my posts here, you'll notice a familiar refrain: I see the explosive growth in interconnections driven primarily by the Internet as something that, if ignored, can lead to dangerous situations. Because they're so powerful, interconnections must be handled with care -- something our current crop of economists and policy makers have failed to do.

Since the late 1980's, economists have been concerned about the effects of positive feedback, a term used to describe a process where growth creates more growth. As the Internet multiplied and strengthened interconnections, positive feedback increasingly drove our economic, financial, political, business, and social spheres, which in turn led to overconnectivity. The result has been a more volatile and less predictable economy -- an economy that has stymied policy makers." Read more

The World in 2050: Deutsche Post DHL Releases a Study on the Future

The World in 2050: Deutsche Post DHL Releases a Study on the Future, press release from Deutsche Post DHL (Plantation, FL, Berlin and Bonn, Germany, February 27, 2012).

From the article: "With its release of the study of the future, "Delivering Tomorrow: Logistics 2050", Deutsche Post DHL is taking a far-reaching look into the future of trade, business and society. The study examines five different scenarios of life in the year 2050. These five visions of the future are based on a detailed analysis of the most critical factors -- including trade and consumption patterns, technological and social trends as well as climate change -- and estimate their probable impact on people's behavior and values in 2050.

The central finding of the study is a comprehensive collection of five credible visions of the future. They outline how different the world could appear in 2050 in terms of the degree of globalization, the extent of economic and social development, predominant technology standards and environmental conditions. The study describes five far-reaching, occasionally radical, versions of life in 2050. All scenarios share a common element: the broadly transformed role of logistics. Overall demand for logistics services does indeed climb in most of the five alternative scenarios. But the particular requirements placed on logistics providers and the special challenges they face vary widely from scenario to scenario." Read more

Civil Society Must Have Voice as ITU Debates the Internet

From the article: "In December 2012, the International Telecommunication Union will convene a meeting of the world’s governments to renegotiate the ITU’s underlying treaty, the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs).  Currently, the ITRs do not address Internet technical standards, infrastructure, or content. However, some states, notably China and Russia, are advocating for an expansion of the ITRs to include Internet regulation.  …CDT has issued a memo analyzing the threat posed by ITU entry into Internet regulation. In this Policy Post, we summarize the issues at stake….The first hurdle in ensuring that the ITU does not unduly extend regulatory authority over the Internet is to determine what is being proposed.  Currently, civil society participation in the work of the ITU is limited and the costs of membership are prohibitive for most civil society organizations – especially those from emerging markets and less-developed economies.  Most working documents and ITU products are only available to members and governments, including the proposed revisions that will feed into the renegotiation process.

So the first step for civil society is to press national delegations to insist that the treaty renegotiation process is transparent and open to participation from all stakeholders." Read more

See Also

Misunderstanding the Internet

From the abstract: "The growth of the internet has been spectacular. There are now more 1.5 billion internet users across the globe, about one quarter of the world’s population. This is certainly a new phenomenon that is of enormous significance for the economic, political and social life of contemporary societies. However, much popular and academic writing about the internet takes a technologically deterministic view, assuming that the internet’s potential will be realised in essentially transformative ways. This was especially true in the euphoric moment of the mid-1990s, when many commentators wrote about the internet with awe and wonderment. While this moment may be over, its underlying technocentrism – the belief that technology determines outcomes – lingers on, and with it, a failure to understand the internet in its social, economic and political context.
Misunderstanding the Internet is a short introduction, encompassing the history, sociology, politics and economics of the internet and its impact on society." Read more