Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why We Can't Solve Big Problems

From the article: "That something happened to humanity's capacity to solve big problems is a commonplace. Recently, however, the complaint has developed a new stridency among Silicon Valley's investors and entrepreneurs, although it is usually expressed a little differently: people say there is a paucity of real innovations. Instead, they worry, technologists have diverted us and enriched themselves with trivial toys. 

… Let's stipulate that venture-backed entrepreneurialism is essential to the development and commercialization of technological innovations. But it is not sufficient by itself to solve big problems, nor could its relative sickliness by itself undo our capacity for collective action through technology." Read more
Holsen, Sarah and Martial Pasquier. "Insight on Information: The Role of Information Commissioners in the Implementation of Access to Information Policies." Journal of Information Policy 2 (2012): 214-241. 

From the report: "What factors impede “Access to Information (ATI)” laws – or make them effective? Drawing on international experience and analyses of ten different countries, Holsen and Pasquier describe and analyze several different forms of ATI implementation. Factors considered include the oversight bodies’ powers, independence, resources, and leadership. Special consideration is given to appeals processes and types of enforcement. In this context, the benefits of the “Information Commissioner” model have been found to outweigh its drawbacks." Read more

Adapt and Adopt: Governments’ Role in Internet Policy

Dean, David, et al. "Adapt and Adopt: Governments’ Role in Internet Policy." Boston Consulting Group Perspectives, October 23, 2012. 

From the report: "As The Boston Consulting Group’s latest update to the BCG e-Intensity Index indicates, the gap between the world’s Internet leaders and laggards is widening. Governments of countries that are at the top of the e-Intensity Index rankings—or are rapidly moving up—encourage Internet use among consumers, businesses, and within government itself, because they recognize that it can be a powerful edge in the competitive global economy. Countries further down the list in many cases have failed to implement effective policies that encourage widespread adoption and use. These countries risk falling further behind if they do not act.

Back in 1997, the White House also put forth five principles that described how governments should approach Internet policy. The first and most important was that “the private sector should lead.” This has been borne out by time. The Internet has enjoyed widespread adoption in countries with vibrant private sectors that allow the inventions of Apple, Google, Orkut, Rakuten, Spotify, and their kin to thrive.

But if we examine the e-Intensity Index leaders, a more complex—and interesting—story emerges." Read more 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winning Combo: Social Media and Health Care

From the report: "Social Media will be the preferred medium of communication, network and connections in time to come. This paper analyses the co-relationship between Social Media and healthcare sector. The study tried to see if there is link between social media and healthcare. The study found that there is very strong link and ordinary people surf the net to find about ailments and even medications prescribed. The study further found that people even interchange ideas, share issues and queries regarding various drugs, there usage and effect. Even pharmaceutical companies are active across the board. They try and create awareness by developing games, running campaigns etc. For this we studied social media policies of some companies. As healthcare is a vital sector which affects like and quality of life some regulations are required. Study found that US and EU have some regulations already in place. The key recommendation is that the tweets and comments should be carefully made and responded to. The study found that social media and health care is a major winning combo." Read more

HHS Questions GOP Calls to Suspend Meaningful Use

Versel, Neil. "HHS Questions GOP Calls to Suspend Meaningful Use." Healthcare IT News, October 23, 2012. 

From the article: "Health and Human Services officials, who spoke this week at the CHIME12 Annual Fall Forum, are pushing back against Republican questions of the appropriateness of the $27 billion meaningful use EHR Incentive Program.

Four GOP senators sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Oct. 17 questioning whether government-subsidized EHRs sometimes actually promote higher utilization of diagnostic testing and whether wider EHR adoption so far has increased Medicare billing." Read more

Charity Creates World's First Citizen Science Project to Speed Up Cancer Research

"Charity Creates World's First Citizen Science Project to Speed Up Cancer Research." Cancer Research UK, October 24, 2012.

From the article: "Cancer Research UK has launched the first ever interactive website - - that will allow the public to delve into real-life cancer data from research archives and speed up lifesaving research, outside of the laboratory.

At the moment, cancer samples are given special stains that highlight certain molecules as part of research. These molecules could reveal how a patient will respond to treatment. But this process is slow and analysis is mostly done by trained pathologists, who are often also cancer researchers." Read more

Physician, Steel Thyself for Electronic Records

Valinoti, Anne Marie. "Physician, Steel Thyself for Electronic Records." The Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2012.

From the article: "At first I thought EMR sounded like a good idea. Then our practice started using one.

Tasks that once took seconds to perform on paper now require multistepped points and clicks through a maze of menus. Checking patients into the office is an odyssey involving scanners and the collection of demographic data—their race, their preferred language, and so much more—required by Medicare to prove that we are achieving "meaningful use" of our EMR. What "meaningful use" means no one knows for sure, but our manual on how to achieve it is 150 pages long.

Now the staff scurry about, rictus-like grins plastered to their faces, trying to hide their underlying stress. The patients, each a Job after completing the elaborate new check-in process—and wondering why the government needs to know if they are an Alaska native, among many other things—arrive in my exam room bewildered by their bureaucratic ordeal.

When the clicks don't get me what I want, I naughtily handwrite a prescription. I skip ordering certain tests I might want because it takes too much time—I'll do it next visit. I dreaded the arrival of this season's flu-shot supply—now there were more orders to input" Read more

MasterCard Mines Purchase Data For Analytics

Davis, Wendy. "MasterCard Mines Purchase Data For Analytics." MediaPost, October 17, 2012.

From the article: "Credit card giant MasterCard has rolled out a new analytics offering that draws on purchase data to predict buying patterns. The company is offering that analysis to BlueKai, which can make it available to ad networks through its platform.

For the initiative, MasterCard is mining data from 34 billion annual transactions. The company then sifts through aggregated, anonymous data to figure out how that activity can predict people's propensity to make certain kinds of future purchases -- such as meals in restaurants." Read more

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FTC Releases Facial Recognition Tech Guidelines

Osborne, Charlie. "FTC Releases Facial Recognition Tech Guidelines." ZDNet, October 23, 2012. 

From the article: "The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has released "best practices" guidelines for companies that use facial recognition technology.

For many of us, tagging friends on Facebook or handing over biometric information may not seem like such a big deal -- but that information, stored on servers worldwide, can sometimes border on privacy infringement. Commercially, it's no longer a rare thing for such technology to be used -- but as adoption expands, if agencies wish to protect consumer rights, guidelines at the least should be implemented.

The new FTC report, titled "Facing Facts: Best Practices for Common Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies," is aimed at guiding businesses through the murky waters of using facial recognition for innovative products, but at the same time maintaining consumer privacy and rights." Read more

See also

Report: Building A Culture Around Big Data

Glick, Deanna. "Report: Building A Culture Around Big Data." AOL Government, October 16, 2012. 

From the article: "A report released today by the Partnership for Public Service aims to educate federal managers on how agencies can do just that. The report, From Data to Decisions II: Building an Analytics Culture, examines how to best use data – not anecdotes – to base decisions.

Building on an original report released last November that examined how several federal agencies use data, the new report identifies strategies for how to develop and grow an analytics culture within agencies and incorporate it into how federal workers perform the mission. It profiles seven agencies using analytics to achieve better results and the strategies used in a budget-cutting climate.

Both reports were joint efforts between the partnership and the IBM Center for The Business of Government." Read more

Social Media and Political Engagement

Rainie, Lee, et al. Social Media and Political Engagement, report prepared by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, October 19, 2012.  

From the report: "The use of social media is becoming a feature of political and civic engagement for many Americans. Some 60% of American adults use either social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, and a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that 66% of those social media users—or 39% of all American adults—have done at least one of eight civic or political activities with social media. 66% of social media users have employed the platforms to post their thoughts about civic and political issues, react to others’ postings, press friends to act on issues and vote, follow candidates, ‘like’ and link to others’ content, and belong to groups formed on social networking sites." Read more

Now It Gets Interesting: How to build a Social Contract for Broadband

Levin, Blair. "Now It Gets Interesting: How to build a Social Contract for Broadband." GigaOm. October 19, 2012. 

From the article: "For a century, our country has benefited from a communications social contract in telephone, broadcast, and multi-channel video in which through law, regulation, and franchise agreements, providers obtain public benefits in exchange for providing certain, limited public obligations. But how will we write the terms of the social contract between communities and communications providers in building the next infrastructure of world-class IP communications for the 21st century?

The question regarding how to build it has become increasingly important as Internet communications begin to supplant 20th Century methods of delivering voice and video, but it remains unanswered. When we developed the National Broadband Plan, we expressed our concern that the current social contracts governing communications would not create a critical mass of communities with world-leading bandwidth, without which the United States might lose its international leadership in developing the next generation of broadband applications." Read more

Is Google a Free Speech Opportunist?

Roberts, Jeff John. "Is Google a Free Speech Opportunist?" GigaOm, October 20, 2012. 

From the article: "Rumors are swirling that the federal government is about to sue Google over claims that the company rigs its search results. Google has responded by invoking its right to free speech — but not everyone is buying this.

Tim Wu, a prominent law professor at Columbia, is not convinced that Google is invoking its First Amendment rights in good faith. He suggests that Google and other big companies are cynically invoking constitutional freedoms as part of a corporate deregulation agenda.

“We’re living in a golden age of First Amendment opportunism,” said Wu, speaking Friday at a Penn Law School conference titled The Evolving Internet.”

In Wu’s view, search results are not really speech in the first space. Instead, he argues, Google’s algorithms are closer to other automated communication tools like navigation devices or even car alarms." Read more

Internet Anti-censorship Tools Are Being Overwhelmed by Demand

Ball, James. "Internet Anti-censorship Tools Are Being Overwhelmed by Demand." The Washington Post, October 21, 2012.

From the article. "U.S.-funded programs to beat back online censorship are increasingly finding a ready audience in repressive countries, with more than 1 million people a day using online tools to get past extensive blocking programs and government surveillance.

But the popularity of those initiatives has become a liability.

Activists and nonprofit groups say that their online circumvention tools, funded by the U.S. government, are being overwhelmed by demand and that there is not enough money to expand capacity. The result: online bottlenecks that have made the tools slow and often inaccessible to users in China, Iran and elsewhere, threatening to derail the Internet freedom agenda championed by the Obama administration." Read more

Big Data to Create 1.9M IT Jobs in U.S. by 2015, Says Gartner

Thibodeau, Patrick. "Big Data to Create 1.9M IT Jobs in U.S. by 2015, Says Gartner." Computerworld, October 22, 2012. 

From the article: "Big data, which refers to data collected and analyzed from every imaginable source, is becoming an engine of job creation as businesses discover ways to turn data into revenue, says Gartner. By 2015, it is expected to create 4.4 million IT jobs globally, of which 1.9 million will be in the U.S.

Applying an economic multiplier to those jobs, Gartner expects that each big data IT job added to the economy will create employment for three more people outside the tech industry in the U.S., adding six million jobs to the economy. That's the kind of estimate that presidential candidates, if they focused on IT's impact on the economy instead of fossil fuel fracking and pipelines, might jump on.

But Sondergaard's estimate included a caveat -- namely, that there's a shortage of skilled workers. Only a third of the big data jobs will be filled." Read more

See also

Internet Market Model: Don't Fix What's Not Broken - OECD

"Internet Market Model: Don't Fix What's Not Broken - OECD.", October 22, 2012. 

From the article: "A new OECD report concludes that despite ongoing and future challenges, the existing market model for the Internet has performed remarkably well, boosting growth and competition and driving down prices for data to 100,000 times less than that of a one minute telephone call.

The report, entitled Internet Traffic Exchange Market Developments and Policy Challenges argues that governments should largely take a hands-off approach to regulating the Internet market.

“If a regulatory obligation to interconnect were to be established, then this choice could be imposed unilaterally by one of the parties, which would dramatically change the dynamics of the market. It is extremely unlikely that the efficient outcomes produced so far would be maintained in this environment,” writes the report’s authors Dennis Weller, Bill Woodcock." Read more

See also

'Copyright World' and Access to Information: Conjoined Via the Internet

Sebastian, Tania. "'Copyright World' and Access to Information: Conjoined Via the Internet." Journal of Intellectual Property Rights, 17 (2012): 235-242.
From the report: "Access to information, despite wide intellectual acceptance, is still a struggle for many in various quarters of the world. In today’s era there exist constraints in the way information is shared; dividing continents based on the way information is accessible to its people. This paper strives to understand the underpinnings of the accessibility to information in the human rights perspective, with a special mention of the current debate on the accessibility of the Internet on the lines of concepts which constitute emerging access to knowledge coalition. The arguments of the present paper take the following form: it begins with an introduction to the oft-debatable access to information question; goes on to elucidate the view of various scholars on why information needs to be free and extends the aspect of freedom to information to the human rights paradigm; then expounds the activism of ‘access to knowledge’ advocates for access to information; and finally talks about European Union’s legalization of access to information on the internet as a ‘fundamental right’ before the conclusion." Read more

The Internet at 20: Evolution of a Constitution for Cyberspace

Perritt, Henry H. "The Internet at 20: Evolution of a Constitution for Cyberspace." William & Mary Bill of Rights, Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper, October 19, 2012. 

From the report: "The Internet’s “constitution” is not expressed in a single document. Instead, it comprises the open architecture inherent in the Internet’s technological protocols together with a collection of government policies, legislative enactments, and judicial decisions that seek to protect the basic architectural philosophy, ensure space for entrepreneurial freedom, and guard against the abuse of economic or political power.

This Article looks back over the Internet’s first twenty years, highlighting the crucial legal decisions by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches that have led to the Internet’s success, and which now frame its constitution. I participated in many of these decisions and wrote more than a dozen law review articles and reports suggesting directions for public policy and law. This Article uses this foundation to consider the future, focusing on major legal controversies, the resolution of which will define the Internet’s third decade — either strengthening or undermining its constitution." Read more

Defense Chief Calls Cyberspace Battlefront of the Future

Alexander, David. "Defense Chief Calls Cyberspace Battlefront of the Future." Reuters, October 19, 2012.

From the article: "Cyberspace is the battlefield of the future, with attackers already going after banks and other financial institutions and developing the ability to strike U.S. power grids and government systems, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday….Panetta said last week the United States has made significant investments in cyber forensics to deal with the problem of identifying the source of a cyber attack. He warned potential attackers that the United States has "the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable." Read more

See also 

Research: Online Pediatric Health Information Is Not Reliable

Hamaker, Paul. "Research: Online Pediatric Health Information Is Not Reliable." Examiner, October 21, 2012.

From the article: "A first of its kind assessment of the reliability of internet web sites as sources of pediatric health information was presented at the October 21, 2012, session of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. …“The content of each website was scored out of a possible 100 points. Overall, academic websites had the highest content score (mean: 60.8 ± 15.5), followed by physician (57±18), non profit (54.2±20.2) and commercial (46.7±22.2). Among the disease/condition-specific information, osteochondroma websites had the highest content scores (mean: 75.8 ± 11.8), and those on leg length discrepancy had the lowest (39.5 ± 16.5).”

Part of the problem in accuracy and reliability was adjudged to be the fault of the site creator. An unaddressed part of the equation was the pay for placement schemes used by search engines to promote web sites that pay them to rank that web site in the top ten." Read more

See also

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Computer Viruses Are "Rampant" on Medical Devices in Hospitals

From the article: "Computerized hospital equipment is increasingly vulnerable to malware infections, according to participants in a recent government panel. These infections can clog patient-monitoring equipment and other software systems, at times rendering the devices temporarily inoperable….

Software-controlled medical equipment has become increasingly interconnected in recent years, and many systems run on variants of Windows, a common target for hackers elsewhere. The devices are usually connected to an internal network that is itself connected to the Internet, and they are also vulnerable to infections from laptops or other device brought into hospitals. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that manufacturers often will not allow their equipment to be modified, even to add security features." Read more

Data from Health Care Reviews Could Power “Yelp for Health Care” Startups

From the article: "Combining patients review data with government-collected performance data could be quite powerful in helping to drive better decisions and adding more transparency to health care. 

… More data collected by patients, advocates, governments and industry could help to shed light on the performance of more physicians and clinics engaged in other expensive and lifesaving surgeries and associated outcomes. 

Should that be extrapolated across the medical industry, it’s a safe bet that some medical practices or physicians will use whatever tools or legislative influence they have to fight or discredit websites, services or data that puts them in a poor light. This might parallel the reception that Bright Scope’s profiles of financial advisors have received in industry." Read more

Ad Spending Tops $800 Million; On Pace to Reach or Come Close to $1 Billion

Montanaro, Domenico. "Ad Spending Tops $800 Million; On Pace to Reach or Come Close to $1 Billion." NBC News, October 17, 2012.

From the article: "Ad spending in the presidential campaign has now topped $800 million and is on pace to reach or come close to $1 billion, according to an NBC analysis of data provided by ad-buying firm SMG Delta." Read more

Exclusive: White House Review Finds No Evidence of Spying by Huawei - Sources

Menn, Jospeh. "Exclusive: White House Review Finds No Evidence of Spying by Huawei - Sources." Reuters, October 17, 2012. 

From the article: "A White House-ordered review of security risks posed by suppliers to U.S. telecommunications companies found no clear evidence that Huawei Technologies Ltd had spied for China, two people familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Instead, those leading the 18-month review concluded early this year that relying on Huawei, the world's second-largest maker of networking gear, was risky for other reasons, such as the presence of vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

These previously unreported findings support parts of a landmark U.S. congressional report last week that warned against allowing Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE Corp to supply critical telecom infrastructure.

But it may douse speculation that Huawei has been caught spying for China." Read more

See also
Martinez, Jennifer. "White House Denies Huawei Investigation Report." The Hill, October 17, 2012.  

Asian Countries Top in Connection Speed, Attack Origin

From the article: "Internet speeds worldwide continue to be faster, led by Asia-Pacific countries South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, while China remains the source of the largest amount of observed attack traffic.

According to Akamai's Second Quarter 2012 State of the Internet report released Thursday, the global average connection speed increased 13 percent to 3Mbps in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, continuing a trend of strong growth." Read more

See also 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shared Minds: How Patients Use Collaborative Web-Based Information Sharing

From the report: "Online social media present a unique opportunity for patients to explore their health issues, share experiential information, and fulfill their need for health. The shared knowledge provides indirect experience of the sensory aspects of a medical treatment that are not available from the description of its tangible aspects alone. In this study, we examine various forms of WOM in online healthcare communities and investigate how patients educate themselves by using other patients’ experiences. We find empirical evidence for the existence of social contagion. More important, we find that experiential learning, a concept describing substantive experience-based information seeking and sharing, is a complex process and that, surprisingly, buzz effects outweigh similarity effects in social interactions about medical information. We also examine the opinion leadership concept and the managerial implications of these findings are discussed." Read more

The Voice of Business: Why Internet Governance Needs Strengthening

Brueggeman, Jeff. "The Voice of Business: Why Internet Governance Needs Strengthening." The Guardian, October 17, 2012.

From the article: "The internet is facing increased threats from intervention that could stifle its unprecedented capacity for social and economic development.

As a member of the International Chamber of Commerce initiative ICC Basis, I firmly believe that governments must work in tandem with the business community to keep the web open for all companies and civil society to engage in legitimate activity, and to capitalise on the positive correlation between internet investment and economic growth." Read more

The Dynamic Internet: How Technology, Users, and Businesses are Transforming the Network

From the paper: "Since the Internet burst into the public’s consciousness during the mid-1990s, it has transformed almost every aspect of daily life. At that time, the economic and technological environment surrounding the Internet remained relatively simple: a small number of users ran a handful of applications over a narrow range of technologies interconnected by a simple set of business relationships.

Time has undermined each of these premises. The population of end users has grown exponentially and become increasingly diverse. The applications that dominated the early Internet — email and web browsing — have been joined by new applications such as video and cloud computing that place much greater demands on the network. Wireless broadband and fiber optics have emerged as important alternatives to transmission services provided via legacy telephone and cable television systems, and mobile devices are replacing personal computers as the dominant means for accessing the Internet. At the same time, the networks comprising the Internet are interconnecting through a wider variety of locations and economic terms than ever before.

These changes are placing pressure on the Internet’s architecture to evolve in response. The Internet is becoming less standardized, more subject to formal governance, and more reliant on intelligence located in the core of the network. At the same time, Internet pricing is becoming more complex, intermediaries are playing increasingly important roles, and the maturation of the industry is causing the nature of competition to change. Moreover, the total convergence of all forms of communications into a single network predicted by many observers may turn out to be something of a myth.

In short, policymakers and scholars must replace the static view that focuses on the Internet’s past with a dynamic view flexible enough to permit the Internet to evolve to meet the changing needs of the future." Read more

Winning Combo: Social Media and Health Care

From the paper: "Social Media will be the preferred medium of communication, network and connections in time to come. This paper analyses the co-relationship between Social Media and healthcare sector. The study tried to see if there is link between social media and healthcare. The study found that there is very strong link and ordinary people surf the net to find about ailments and even medications prescribed. The study further found that people even interchange ideas, share issues and queries regarding various drugs, there usage and effect. Even pharmaceutical companies are active across the board. They try and create awareness by developing games, running campaigns etc. For this we studied social media policies of some companies. As healthcare is a vital sector which affects like and quality of life some regulations are required. Study found that US and EU have some regulations already in place. The key recommendation is that the tweets and comments should be carefully made and responded to. The study found that social media and health care is a major winning combo." Read more

Should High Schools Teach Big Data?

From the article: "Given the anticipated shortage of data scientists, should students start learning the precepts of big data in high school?

Changing when advanced database technology is taught has real-world implications, given the realities of today's job market. Both data analytics and big data skills are in high demand in private industry and government.

But there is a looming shortage of workers with these abilities. McKinsey & Co. sounded this alarm back in 2011 with its seminal report that predicted the U.S. would face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 workers with the skills to manage and analyze big data." Read more 

The Future, as Imagined by Google

Miller, Claire Cain. "The Future, as Imagined by Google." The New York Times, October 15, 2012.

From the article: "In Eric E. Schmidt’s future, his life will be a lot easier.

His bed will wake him up when he cycles out of R.E.M. sleep. A driverless car will take him to work. Returning phone calls, scheduling events and other routine tasks will be taken care of by devices using artificial intelligence. A microrobot he swallows will monitor his insides and alert his doctor if something is wrong. At night, a robot will go to parties in his place." Read more

Infostructure Is the New Infrastructure

Mead, Walter Russell. "Infostructure Is the New Infrastructure." The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2012.

From the article: "The question is no longer whether government has a role to play, but what that role is in today's economy. In the 1820s and 1830s, many states jumped on the canal bandwagon after the success of the Erie Canal, but the arrival of the railroads made that investment essentially worthless. Mule-drawn canal barges don't compete with trains. Even the Erie Canal soon became more tourist attraction than working piece of infrastructure.

In today's economy there are three big problems with the conventional case for infrastructure spending. The first is that nothing is shovel-ready anymore. Not-in-my-backyard, or "Nimby," lawsuits and environmental requirements tie up significant projects for years if not decades." Read more 

The Doctor Can See You Now. Really, Right Now.

Barrow, Karen. "The Doctor Can See You Now. Really, Right Now." The New York Times, October 15, 2012. 

From the article: "That realization led Mr. Oks to create Appointment Status, a Web site devoted to improving appointment efficiency and providing patients with information to avoid long waits. …It’s one of several innovations meant to help patients. While many digital developments — electronic medical records and mobile medical encyclopedias — have streamlined doctors’ work, new tools for patients are starting to hit cellphones and the Internet offering help in keeping track of medications, recording heart rate and glucose levels and managing personal and family medical history, among other tasks." Read more

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

EU data chiefs ask Google to change privacy policy

Davenport, Claire and Leila Abboud. "EU Data Chiefs Ask Google to Change Privacy Policy." Reuters, October 15, 2012.

From the article: "European Union regulators want Google to make changes to its new privacy policy to protect the rights of its users, the EU's national data protection regulators said in a letter to the U.S. internet company… The letter, which stopped short of declaring Google's approach to collecting user data illegal, follows an investigation led by France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique (CNIL) that began in February.

Leading the inquiry on behalf of Europe, France's data protection watchdog had already questioned the legality and fairness of Google's new privacy policy, introduced in March. This consolidated 60 privacy policies into one and pooled data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and its social network Google+. Users cannot opt out." Read more

Monday, October 15, 2012

Intelligence Agencies Turn to Crowdsourcing

Weinberger, Sharon. "Intelligence Agencies Turn to Crowdsourcing." BBC, October 10, 2012.

From the article: "Research firm Applied ResearchAssociates, has just launched a website that invites the public—meaning anyone, anywhere—to sign up and try their hand at intelligence forecasting. The website is part of an effort, sponsored by the IntelligenceAdvanced Research Projects Activity (Iarpa), to understand the potential benefits of so-called crowdsourcing for predicting future events. Crowdsourcing aims to use the “wisdom of crowds” and was popularised by projects like Wikipedia." Read more

Measuring the Information Society 2012

Measuring the Information Society 2012, prepared by the International Telecommunication Union (Geneva, Switzerland, 2012).

From the report: "For the fourth consecutive year, this report presents two authoritative benchmarking tools to monitor information society developments worldwide. The ICT Development Index (IDI) ranks 155 countries’ performance with regard to information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure and uptake. The ICT Price Basket (IPB) is a unique metric that tracks and compares the cost and affordability of ICT services in more than 160 countries globally. Both the IDI and the IPB combined are powerful measures for benchmarking and explaining differences among countries and within regions when it comes to ICT developments. This year’s edition of the report also features brand new data and analyses on revenue and investment in the ICT sector and proposes a new methodology to measure the world’s telecommunication capacity." Read more

Ten Years that Shook the Media World

Nielson, Rasmus Kleis. "Ten Years that Shook the Media World." Report prepared for the Reuters Institute, October 11, 2012. 

From the brief: "A new report published today by the Reuters Institute, shows that even after more than a decade of often dramatic turmoil in the media sector, we are only at the beginning of a longer transitional period….. In the absence of major business innovations, the commercial underpinnings of professional journalism continue to erode in most of the Western world as “old media” decline or move away from news and very few online-only new media companies have found sustainable models for news production. While new digital platforms have created exciting new opportunities for socializing, information sharing, and search, it is not clear that they provide a hospitable environment for professional journalism." Read more

GAO Report Dings Location-Tracking Privacy Policies

Smith, Josh. "GAO Report Dings Location-Tracking Privacy Policies." National Journal, October 11, 2012.

From the article: "Vague privacy policies are making it hard for consumers to protect their location and other information collected by mobile devices, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.

"Companies GAO examined disclosed in their privacy policies that the companies were collecting consumers' location data, but did not clearly state how the companies were using these data or what third parties they may share them with," GAO investigators wrote. "Furthermore, although policies stated that companies shared location data with third parties, they were sometimes vague about which types of companies these were and why they were sharing the data."" Read more

See also
U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Mobile Device Location Data," Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, September 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Panel: Protect Patients Who Use Whole Genome Sequencing

Lloyd, Janice. "Panel: Protect Patients Who Use Whole Genome Sequencing." USA Today, October 11, 2012. 

From the article: "A government panel issued a report Thursday calling for consistent policies and laws to protect the privacy of patients who submit to whole genome sequencing and to ensure the data security.

The panel recommends officials create laws at the state and federal level to prevent the data from falling into the hands of insurance companies, employers and others who could use it as a form of discrimination, to ensure patients are told when being tested, and to hold collectors, storers and users of the information accountable for any breaches of data." Read more

See also
Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethics. "President's Bioethics Commission Releases Report on Genomics and Privacy." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 11, 2012. 

Big Data: The End of Privacy or a New Beginning?

Rubinstein, Ira. "Big Data: The End of Privacy or a New Beginning?" New York University, Information Law Institute, October 5, 2012.

From the report: "'Big data' refers to novel ways in which organizations, including government and businesses, combine diverse digital data sets and then use statistics and other data mining techniques to extract from them both hidden information and surprising correlations. While big data promises significant economic and social benefits, it also raises serious privacy concerns. In particular, big data challenges the Fair Information Practices (FIPs) as embodied in various privacy laws including the EU Data Protection Directive. This past January, the European Commission released a proposal to reform and replace the Directive by adopting a new Regulation. In this paper, I argue that this Regulation relies too heavily on the discredited informed choice model, and therefore fails to fully engage with the coming big data tsunami. My contention is that when this advancing wave arrives, it will so overwhelm the core privacy principles of informed choice and data minimization on which the Directive rests that reform efforts alone will prove inadequate. Rather, an adequate response must combine legal reform with encouragement of new business models premised on consumer empowerment and supported by a personal data ecosystem. This new business model is important for two reasons: first, existing business models have proven time and again that privacy regulation is no match for them. Businesses inevitably collect and use more and more personal data, and while consumers realize many benefits in exchange, there is little doubt that businesses, not consumers, control the market in personal data with their own interests in mind. Second, a new business model, which I describe in this paper, promises to stand processing of personal data on its head by shifting control over both the collection and use of data from firms to individuals. This “control shift” — and this alone — stands a chance of making the FIPs efficacious by giving individuals the capacity to benefit from big data and hence the motivation to learn about and control how their data is collected and used, while also enabling businesses to profit from a new breed of services that are both data-intensive and imbued with privacy values." Read more

Senator Opens Investigation of Data Brokers

Singer, Natasha. "Senator Opens Investigation of Data Brokers." The New York Times, October 10, 2012.

From the article: "The multibillion-dollar data brokerage industry, a growing force in online marketing, is drawing intensified government scrutiny. 

On Wednesday, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, opened an extensive investigation of nine leading information brokers. Because Americans now conduct much of their daily business online, the senator said he was concerned that “an unprecedented amount” of personal, medical and financial information about people could be collected, mined and sold, to the potential detriment of consumers." Read more

The Benefits of Open Data – Evidence from Economic Research

Xu, Guo. "The Benefits of Open Data – Evidence from Economic Research." Open Economics, October 3, 2012. 

From the article: "Making information accessible to the public can improve public service delivery. In countries where corruption is pervasive, services and funds often do not reach the frontline provider. And even if services do reach the people, the quality of services provided is often shockingly poor: Survey evidence from Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Peru and Uganda found absence rates as high as 20% and 35% for school teachers and health workers. In many cases, the staff is poorly trained.

Releasing data on service delivery in this case can help reduce corruption and improve public services. In Uganda, researchers provided information to parents by publishing funding data for a random subset of schools in local newspapers. In consequence, corruption decreased significantly, while schooling outcomes improved substantially. Similar evidence in health delivery and redistributive policies suggest that providing information can help the public to discipline public service providers, improving the quality of services." Read more

How Much Do Google and Facebook Profit from Your Data?

Mullin, Joe. "How Much Do Google and Facebook Profit from Your Data?" Ars Technica, October 9, 2012.

From the article: "Savvy Internet users know that all the great stuff they get from the Internet for "free"—the searches, the social networks, the games, even the news—isn't really free. It's an exchange, where companies are able to take user data, sell it to advertisers, and make money that allows them to give themselves a paycheck while keeping you afloat in free digital services. 

So that data you're giving away online is worth something, but have you ever taken a stab at figuring out how much? A just-released privacy add-on for Firefox and Chrome, Privacyfix, gives it the old college try. Both Congress and the executive branch have been talking more about online privacy in the past couple years.  

The estimates for Google and Facebook are imprecise, as the program's creator, Privacy Choice founder Jim Brock, readily admits. "We wanted people to understand, it is a value exchange" when they use these sites, said Brock." Read more

ISE Set to Play Larger Role in Cybersecurity Info Sharing, Says Paul

Perera, David. "ISE Set to Play Larger Role in Cybersecurity Info Sharing, Says Paul." Fierce Government IT, October 10, 2012.

From the article: "The Information Sharing Environment program will play an increased role in federal efforts to coordinate cybersecurity with state and local governments, said Kshemendra Paul, ISE program manager, after speaking Oct. 10 at an AFCEA-Bethesda panel.

ISE officials have pushed for expansion of their program beyond counterterrorism information sharing, and cybersecurity is an area "where we're getting increasingly involved," Paul said. Other areas of potential expansion include combating transnational crime and human trafficking, he added." Read more

Cybersecurity: A Pre-history

Warner, Michael. "Cybersecurity: A Pre-history." Intelligence and National Security 27 (2012)

From the article: "The ‘cyber’ issue is not new, but rather has taken a half-century to develop. Indeed, it was already decades old before the general public and many senior leaders recognized its salience in the mid-1990s. It developed, moreover, along a logical path, which can be depicted as the successive dawning (for American policymakers, officials, and intelligence officers) of four insights, each of which was glimpsed in theory at least shortly before empirical evidence verified that it was indeed a reality to consider in setting policies, standards, and doctrine. Thus the official responses to the emergence of the cyber issue in the late-1990s were shaped by the outcomes of those earlier debates; the options available to policy-makers in the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and the various agencies were already conditioned and even determined by previous arguments." Read more

See more
"Special Issue: A Decade of Intelligence Beyond 9/11: Security, Diplomacy and Human Rights." Intelligence and National Security 27 (2012).

Big Data, Bigger Outcomes

Fernandes, Lorraine, O’Connor, Michele, and Victoria Weaver. "Big Data, Bigger Outcomes." Journal of the American Health Information Management Association 83 (2012): 38-43.

From the article: "Big Data has tremendous potential to add value in all healthcare settings. Big Data solutions can help organizations personalize care, engage patients, reduce variability and costs, and improve quality. Once Big Data is managed and integrated, organizations can apply analytics to better understand the clinical and operational states of their business based on historical and current trends, and predict what might occur in the future with a trusted level of reliability." Read more

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

International Internet Governance, Innovation & The International Telecommunications Union

Sallet, Jonathan. "International Internet Governance, Innovation & The International Telecommunications Union." O'Melveny & Myers LLP; Silicon Flatirons, October 1, 2012.

From the report: "The 19th Century telegraph and the 20th Century telephone are relatively simple mechanisms of communication. A single technology, widely deployed, with content supplied by its users. The Internet ecosystem is much more complex – bringing together divergent technologies of transmission (mobile and fixed), usage, storages, hardware and software – empowering very divergent forms of content, personalized on each device that is connected to the network of networks.

In December 2012, the International Telecommunications Union, an organization born to promulgate the international flow of telegraph traffic in the 19th Century, which evolved to regulate international traffic between telephone networks owned and/or regulated as monopolies in the 20th Century, will confront the quintessential 21st Century information technology: The Internet.

In so doing, it will consider a fundamental question: Is the regulatory regime designed for the international activities of the telegraph and the telephone the best form of governance over economic issues that impact the future of innovation on the Internet?

This paper contends that the answer to that question is “No”. Not because any dearth of legitimate issues that need to be confronted, nor because the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has failed in its legacy of telegraph and telephone regulation. But because the Internet ecosystem is not the analog of telegraphy and telephony." Read more

The Privacy Merchants: What is to Be Done?

From the report: "Rights have been long understood, first and foremost, as protection of the private from the public, the individual from the State. True, we also recognize positive rights (such as socioeconomic rights) and the government’s duty to protect citizens from violations of rights by other actors besides the State. However, when violations of privacy are discussed, the first violator that typically comes to mind is “Big Brother”—that is, the State.

This Article focuses on the growing threat to privacy from private actors, specifically profit-making corporations. It briefly outlines a range of options aimed at protecting individual privacy against encroachment by private actors, and it evaluates them within the prevailing normative, legal, and political context in the United States." Read more

How to Maintain a Competitive Internet

West, Darrell M., and Elizabeth Valentini. "How to Maintain a Competitive Internet." Paper released in conjunction with the Fostering Internet Competition Conference, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., October 10, 2012.

From the paper: "To protect these virtues, a number of academic experts and business leaders have concluded that the government should be cautious about applying competition law to the Internet market.  They argue we should have a “hands-off” competition policy given the rapidly changing nature of digital technology, the complexity of networked industries, the slow pace of government decision-making, the lack of substantive knowledge on the part of regulators, and the globalization of service delivery. 

In this paper, we argue that robust competition policy, including the application of law and enforcement, are vital to ensure the continuing benefits of Internet communications and commerce. Competition is good for consumers, and we need to protect against threats to open competition in Internet markets in order to maintain its beneficial features.  It is important to have antitrust enforcement and fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory market behavior to gain the full benefits of the Internet. We need public policies that promote consumer choice and encourage innovation without stifling competition." Read more

Blue Button for Patients: More than Just a Lapel Pin

Holliday, Regina. "Blue Button for Patients: More than Just a Lapel Pin." iHealth Beat, October 9, 2012.

From the article. "Some folks may wonder why companies are implementing this data-sharing agreement. In the past, patient information was sold as a de-identified aggregate and was a valuable resource. In these changing times of data transparency and media sharing, patients want to work with companies that that both respect their privacy and allow for ease of information access. Those companies that do not recognize the patient as the ultimate end-user will be left behind in this new open access frontier.

But what makes this version of Blue Button radical is the potential for third-party applications. We are in an amazing time of open data. Each year, our government opens more and more data sets to allow brilliant minds to hack new answers. Those same minds who are crunching data into large aggregates can apply that knowledge of big data to an individual." Read more