Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Five Forces Shaping the 21st Century

Ranadive, Vivek. "The Five Forces Shaping the 21st Century." Forbes, November 27, 2012.

The 21st century didn’t start in the year 2000. It started in 2010, the same way the 20th century began in 1908 with the advent of the automobile. It became the century of highways and freeways, the century of the auto—the American century. Similarly, if you look at what happened a couple of years ago, there were all kinds of crossover points that happened around the same time: more cell phones than landlines, more laptops than desktops, more debit cards than credit cards, more farmed fish than wild fish, more girls in college than boys.

I am dedicated to the belief that if you get the right information to the right place at the right time and in the right context, you can make the world a better place. This is something I call the two-second advantage. In order to achieve that, you need to understand five forces shaping the 21st century.

Building an Iconography for Digital Privacy

Sengupta, Somini. "Building an Iconography for Digital Privacy." The New York Times, November 19, 2012.

Web site privacy policies are usually long, vague and notoriously neglected by most of us. Or as Alex Fowler, chief privacy officer at Mozilla, put it, “We have long upheld that privacy policies suck.”

Now, an experiment is under way to make those privacy policies somewhat more palatable. The idea is to have lawyers and coders muddle through thousands of words of legalese and distill their meaning into a set of graphic icons. In effect, the pros will read those notoriously unreadable policies, so the rest of us don’t have to.

You Got a Better Idea?

Koppell, Jonathan. "You Got a Better Idea?". Slate, November 28, 2012.

There’s an old saw about the weather: “Everyone complains about it, but no one ever does anything about it.” The same might be said about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

The U.S. government created ICANN in 1998 to oversee the coordination and management of the Domain Name System, which basically means that it coordinates the unique identifiers of every Web-connected device on the planet. Today, ICANN is most well-known for its rulemaking around website names. For the past 14 years, it has weathered volley after volley of criticisms (not to mention lawsuits) by an eclectic group of individuals, nation states, NGOs, companies, and global governance bodies for a laundry list of perceived ills, shortcomings, and outright failures. It has been criticized for imposing U.S. values, lacking foresight, and being the catspaw of special interest groups. At the same time, it has been criticized in the halls of the U.S.Congress, its ostensible master, for pursuing paths that were at odds with American interests. It has been taken to task by its own directors, critical of the changing rules by which the organization runs and a lack of transparency in its activities.

ICANN, Make a Difference

Meinrath, Sarah and Elliot Noss. "ICANN, Make a Difference." Slate, November 27, 2012.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is little known, but it wields a tremendous amount of power: It controls all of the Web’s top-level domains (those letters after the “dot,” like .com and .org). Currently, ICANN is in the midst of creating hundreds (and possibly thousands) of new, generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that span a host of different ideas, from .web to .cars to .anything_else_you_can_imagine. These new gTLDs have the potential to dramatically affect the future of Internet browsing, and they’re already stirring up some serious discussion. (Saudi Arabia, for one, doesn’t want .gay, .bible, or other dozens of other proposed domains to be approved.) But the auction process to distribute them also has the potential for even greater impact than currently envisioned.

‘Do Not Track’ Internet privacy initiative struggles to keep momentum

Timberg, Craig. "‘Do Not Track’ Internet privacy initiative struggles to keep momentum." The Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2012.

The two-year-old drive to give consumers a simple way to block companies from tracking their behavior as they move across the Internet has faltered, say participants in the process who are struggling to reconcile privacy concerns with an advertising model that pays for many free Internet services…

Industry groups voluntarily adopted a version last year giving consumers the ability to block advertising based on their Web browsing history. Officials from the Digital Advertising Alliance, which organized the effort, said that nearly 20 million users have visited the site at and that more than 1 million have chosen to opt out of ad tracking.

But privacy advocates have called this system hard to use and too permissive in the information it allows marketers to collect.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HHS Publishes Guidance on How to De-Identify Protected Health Information

From the article: "On November 26, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) published guidance on the two methods for de-identifying protected health information (“PHI”) in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The guidance, which was required by the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health (“HITECH”) Act, has been developed over several years by OCR in collaboration with healthcare entities and other industry experts and builds upon the discussions from a workshop on de-identification that took place in March 2010.

The guidance covers three main topics: (1) key terms in the HIPAA Privacy Rule, (2) the statistical expert method for de-identifying PHI, and (3) the safe harbor method for de-identifying PHI." Read more

See also

Integrity of Internet Is Crux of Global Conference

From the article: "A commercial and ideological clash is set for next week, when representatives of more than 190 governments, along with telecommunications companies and Internet groups, gather in Dubai for a once-in-a-generation meeting.  The subject: Control of the Internet, politically and commercially.

More energy is expected to be spent on how companies make money off the Internet. In one submission to the conference, the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association, a lobbying group based in Brussels that represents companies like France Télécom, Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia, proposed that network operators be permitted to assess charges for content providers like Internet video companies that use a lot of bandwidth.

Analysts say the proposal is an acknowledgment by European telecommunications companies that they cannot hope to provide digital content. “The telecoms realize that they have lost the battle,” said Paul Budde, an independent telecommunications analyst in Australia. “They are saying, ‘We can’t beat the Googles and the Facebooks, so let’s try to charge them.’” Read more

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Patients Want Granular Privacy Control Over Health Information in Electronic Medical Records

From the report: "Patients expressed sharing preferences consistent with a desire for granular privacy control over which health information should be shared with whom and expressed differences in sharing preferences for sensitive versus less-sensitive EMR data. The pattern of results may be used by designers to generate privacy-preserving EMR systems including interfaces for patients to express privacy and sharing preferences." Read more 

Cell Phone Activities 2012

From the report: "Fully 85% of American adults own a cell phone and now use the devices to do much more than make phone calls. Cell phones have become a portal for an ever-growing list of activities. In nationally representative phone surveys in the spring and summer, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project obtained readings on some of the most popular activities including: 1) Taking pictures (82%), 2) Sending/receiving texts (80%), 3) Accessing the Internet (56%), and 4) Sending/receiving e-mail (50%)." Read more

The Gathering Storm: WCIT and the Global Regulation of the Internet

From the report: "At the upcoming International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, to be held from December 3-14, delegates will consider proposals to amend the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs,) binding rules that govern telecommunications network practices around the world…. If any change needs to be made at all in the ITRs with respect to the Internet, it should be limited to creating a firewall between the authority of ITU and the operation of the Internet. The Internet’s organic governance system has proved to be quite effective, in no small part due to its close proximity to the Internet’s technical standards and business practices. 

Technologies that enable rapid rates of change need the ability to adapt to changing conditions quickly; an international treaty organization that convenes once every fifteen years does not fit the bill. The ITU is facing obsolescence as we begin to retire the telephone networks that have been its sole focus since the phase-out of the telegraph, but this existential crisis does not justify a wholesale restructuring of Internet governance." Read more

Health Care System To Benefit From Recent HIE Progress

From the article: "The stars seem to be aligned for rapid progress in health information exchange. We are fast approaching a point in the development of the Health Internet where ubiquitous exchange of health data to improve care coordination and health care quality and ultimately lower costs might be possible. We still face some problems, and standards and policies must be aligned, but there is some great synergy in play that will help drive this vision forward. There are a variety of different initiatives which are coalescing, but there is also a great deal of work still left to do." Read more

Monday, November 26, 2012

Global Internet User Survey Reveals Attitudes, Usage, and Behavior

From the report: "A worldwide survey of more than 10,000 Internet users in 20 countries conducted by the Internet Society revealed attitudes towards the Internet and user behavior online. The Global Internet User Survey is one of the broadest surveys of Internet user attitudes on key issues facing the Internet. This year's survey covered areas such as how users manage personal information online, attitudes toward the Internet and human rights, censorship, and the potential for the Internet to address issues such as economic development and education.

Key findings from this year's survey cover a broad range of topics.
The Internet and Human Rights:
  • Eighty-three percent of respondents agreed or agreed strongly that access to the Internet should be considered a basic human right.
  • Eighty-nine percent agreed or agreed strongly that Internet access allows freedom of expression on all subjects, and 86 percent agreed or agreed strongly that freedom of expression should be guaranteed.
  • Sixty percent of respondents agreed or agreed strongly that Internet access has contributed significantly to civil action and political awareness in their country." Read more

The Impact of Electronic Patient Portals on Patient Care: A Systematic Review of Controlled Trials

From the report: "Modern information technology is changing and provides new challenges to health care. The emergence of the Internet and the electronic health record (EHR) has brought new opportunities for patients to play a more active role in his/her care. Although in many countries patients have the right to access their clinical information, access to clinical records electronically is not common. Patient portals consist of provider-tethered applications that allow patients to electronically access health information that are documented and managed by a health care institution. Although patient portals are already being implemented, it is still unclear in which ways these technologies can influence patient care." Read more

Avoiding a Data Divide Between the US and the EU

From the article: "The US and EU privacy regimes differ because their legal systems and political structures are distinct, but our values are similar. The ‘fair information practices principles' that informed the EU's privacy directive originated in a US government report in the 1970s. These principles are also the foundation of the Obama administration's consumer privacy bill of rights.

The US and the EU ultimately share the same goals – to protect privacy and facilitate trade and economic growth." Read more

The U.N.'s Internet Sneak Attack

From the article: "Who runs the Internet? For now, the answer remains no one, or at least no government, which explains the Web's success as a new technology. But as of next week, unless the U.S. gets serious, the answer could be the United Nations.

Many of the U.N.'s 193 member states oppose the open, uncontrolled nature of the Internet. Its interconnected global networks ignore national boundaries, making it hard for governments to censor or tax. And so, to send the freewheeling digital world back to the state control of the analog era, China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are trying to hijack a U.N. agency that has nothing to do with the Internet." Read more

Mobile Phones—Especially 3G Ones—Make Economies Grow Faster

Snow, Jackie. "Mobile Phones—Especially 3G Ones—Make Economies Grow Faster." Quartz, November 25, 2012.

From the article: "Now there is evidence that improving mobile Internet access helps economies too. A recent study examined the effect of faster 3G wireless data connections replacing slower 2G ones. The study by the GSM Association mobile trade group, Deloitte and Cisco, looked at 96 developed and developing markets from 2008 to 2011. When a market experienced a 10% shift from 2G to 3G, GDP per capita growth increased by an average of 0.15 percentage points. A separate look into 14 countries between 2005 to 2010 found that a doubling of mobile data use led to an increase of 0.5 percentage points in per capita growth." Read more

See also

European Parliament Warns Against UN Internet Control

"European Parliament Warns Against UN Internet Control." BBC, November 22, 2012. 

From the article: "Members of the European Parliament backed a resolution which urged member states to reject changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) which would "negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online"…. The European Parliament's objection follows loud opposition from search giant Google, which has invited concerned internet users to sign a petition.

"The International Telecommunication Union is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty," the company wrote." Read more

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why Big Data Could Sink Europe’s ‘Right To Be Forgotten'

Meyer, David. "Why Big Data Could Sink Europe’s ‘Right To Be Forgotten.'" GigaOm, November 20, 2012. 
From the article: "Europe’s proposed ‘right to be forgotten’ has been the subject of intense debate, with many people arguing it’s simply not practical in the age of the internet for any data to be reliably expunged from history.

Well, add another voice to that mix. The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) has published its assessment of the proposals, and the tone is sceptical to say the least. And, interestingly, one of the biggest problems ENISA has found has to do with big data." Read more

See also

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Willing to Pay for Quality Personalization? Trade-Off between Quality and Privacy

From the report: "Online personalization presents recommendations of products and services based on customers’ past online purchases or browsing behavior. Personalization applications reduce information overload and provide value-added services. However, their adoption is hindered by customers’ concerns about information privacy. This paper reports on research undertaken to determine whether a high-quality recommendation service will encourage customers to use online personalization. We collected data through a series of online experiments to examine the impacts of privacy and quality on personalization usage and on users’ willingness to pay and to disclose information when using news and financial services." Read more

Who Are the Doctors Most Trusted by Doctors? Big Data Can Tell You.

From the article: "By accessing information in government databases through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, healthcare innovators are now able to share connections between doctors that are based on millions of physician referrals — a valuable indicator of who doctors hold in esteem." Read more

Privacy and Security Aspects of Social Media: Institutional and Technological Environment

From the report: "Legitimate as well as illegitimate organizations and entities are gaining access to information about social media (SM) users through illegal, extralegal, and quasi-legal means. Worse still, many organizations and individuals using SM have become targets and victims of cybercrimes. SM have also led to an exposure of unethical and illegal conducts within some organizations. One estimate suggested that 36% of social networking users have reported experiencing malware attacks through their profiles. Another study suggested that one in four companies have become cybercrime victims via social networking sites. Likewise, about a quarter of employers surveyed by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics in 2009 had disciplined an employee for improper activities on social networking sites. Organizations that fail to take appropriate technological and behavioral measures related to SM are likely to suffer reputation damages, loss of customers' confidence, and other types of economic losses. The goal of this paper is to develop a framework that provides a simple, explicit mechanism for understanding privacy and security issues associated with SM." Read more

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Teens and Venture Investors Demand Online Safety and Privacy

Kolodny, Lora. "Teens and Venture Investors Demand Online Safety and Privacy." Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2012.

From the article: A new study from the Family Online Safety Institute, a nonprofit on a mission to “make the online world safe for kids and families,” found that teens are not only more connected than ever, increasingly using mobile devices and social networks, but they understand privacy and safety issues in a way that previous generations didn’t.

In addition, FOSI and venture investors say they are focused on ensuring that entrepreneurs consider safety and privacy issues and plan for them from the start when developing a business.  Read more

See also

A Survey of Primary Care Doctors in Ten Countries Shows Progress in Use of Health Information Technology, Less in Other Areas

Schoen, Cathy, et al. "A Survey of Primary Care Doctors in Ten Countries Shows Progress in Use of Health Information Technology, Less in Other Areas." The Common Wealth Fund, November 15, 2012.

From the article:

  • Two-thirds (69%) of U.S. primary care physicians reported using EMRs in 2012, up from less than half (46%) in 2009. Both U.S. and Canadian doctors expanded their use of health information technology (HIT), though the two countries lag the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia in EMRs and use of HIT to perform a range of functions, like generating patient information or ordering diagnostic tests. 
  • In the U.S.—the only country in the survey without universal health coverage—59 percent of physicians said their patients often have trouble paying for care. Far fewer physicians in Norway (4%), the U.K. (13%), Switzerland (16%), Germany (21%), and Australia (25%) reported affordability was a concern for their patients. 
  • More than half (52%) of U.S. doctors said they or their staff spend too much time dealing with insurers’ restrictions on covered treatments or medications—by far the highest rate in the survey.  Read more

The Right to Be Forgotten in the Internet Era

Graux, Hans, Jef Ausloos and Peggy Valcke. "The Right to Be Forgotten in the Internet Era." ICRI Research Paper No. 11, November 12, 2012.

From the report: Especially after its appearance in the European Commission's recent proposal for a new Data Protection Regulation, the 'right to be forgotten' has provoked quite some criticism. Much of the opponents, however, seem uninformed on the actual scope and meaning of the proposed provision. Additionally, the concept is often confused with the much older 'droit a l'oubli', which finds its rationale in the protection of privacy as a fundamental human right. This text starts by giving an overview of the more traditional droit a l'oubli and how it is applied throughout Europe. Subsequently, the more modern 'right to be forgotten' is analyzed from a normative, market, technological and legal perspective. Finally, this text makes a thorough and critical analysis of the current proposal. Despite its laudable goal, some deficiencies should be resolved. But, in general, the right seems to restore the power balance by giving (back) effective control to individuals over their personal data.  Read more

The Making of a (Big Data) President

Hurwitz, Judith. "The Making of a (Big Data) President." Bloomberg Businessweek, November 14, 2012.

From the article: For the first time in presidential politics, there is a considerable focus on the role that large amounts of data played in the course of the campaign. Technology has always been important for any political campaign, but in this presidential election, both campaigns attempted to use Big Data analytics as a strategic weapon. There were some important lessons to learn from how the data were used—and misused.  Read more

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reed Hundt and Blair Levin: For a Politics of Abundance, Growth First

From the article: "After the election, Washington, D.C., has the same power structure, but a very different strategic situation. Because existing law raises taxes and cuts spending at the beginning of 2013, the Republican House must compromise with both the Democratic Senate and re-elected President Barack Obama on the budget. No one can prize gridlock above agreement.

Washington's habitual inclination in such situations, however, is toward protracted negotiation of marginal changes. Now is the time for Silicon Valley leaders to demand that while negotiating budget compromises, Congress also immediately pass laws that allow the private sector quickly to deliver breakthroughs in information technology and clean energy to the market.

Potential technological abundance can give the United States both a high and rising standard of living and a rapid reduction in dependence on carbon-intense energy uses." Read more 

Global Information Society Watch 2012: The Internet and Corruption.

Finlay, Alan, ed. "Global Information Society Watch 2012: The Internet and Corruption." Association for Progressive Communications and the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries, 2012. 

From the report: "In an era of reciprocal accountability we are all inclined to fear omnipresent observation – not the divine judgement of the second millennium, but rather the constant, networked, live-streamed observation of the third millennium. It sounds exhausting, and often is, but if we aspire to our better selves, if we are tolerant of those who are different, if we always grant the benefit of doubt when lacking sufficient context, then reciprocal accountability might grant us all greater freedom and prosperity." Read more

Airbnb: Our Guests Stay Longer And Spend More Than Hotel Guests, Contributing $56M To The San Francisco Economy

Lawler, Ryan. "Airbnb: Our Guests Stay Longer And Spend More Than Hotel Guests, Contributing $56M To The San Francisco Economy." Tech Crunch, November 9, 2012.

From the article: "According to research conducted by real estate and economic development consulting firm HR&A Advisors, Airbnb guests helped contribute $56 million in total economic activity to the San Francisco economy from June 2011 to May 2012, the vast majority of which was unrelated to the money they spent on lodging. Airbnb guests spent $12.7 million in lodging during that time, but spent an additional $43.1 million while staying in town." Read more

Government Transparency and Secrecy: An Examination of Meaning and Its Use in the Executive Branch

From the report: "This report subsequently examines the statutes, initiatives, requirements, and other actions that make information more available to the public or protect it from public release. It also examines transparency and secrecy from the standpoint of how the public accesses government information, and whether the release of government data and information may make operation of the federal government more or, counter-intuitively, less transparent. Finally, this report analyzes whether existing transparency initiatives are effective in reaching their stated goals." Read more

Many Health Apps Are Based on Flimsy Science at Best, and They Often Do Not Work

From the article: "When the iTunes store began offering apps that used cellphone light to cure acne, federal investigators knew that hucksters had found a new spot in cyberspace….

Since then, the Food and Drug Administration has been mired in a debate over how to oversee these high-tech products, and government officials have not pursued any other app developers for making medically dubious claims. Now, both the iTunes store and the Google Play store are riddled with health apps that experts say do not work and in some cases could even endanger people." Read more

Hospitals Use Patient Data to Target Ads

From the article: "You might not know it when you seek care from some of central Ohio’s hospital systems, but your health information makes you a potential marketing target.

OhioHealth and Mount Carmel Health System routinely mine health data from their patients’ records to decide who should receive certain mailings. The approach — sometimes called “ customer-relationship management” — has been used for six years by OhioHealth and two years by Mount Carmel. Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center hasn’t used it, but it plans to take another look at the tactic soon, a spokesman said." Read more

More Companies Are Tracking Online Data, Study Finds

From the article: "The number of trackers collecting data on users’ activities on the most popular Web sites in the United States has significantly increased in the last five months, according to research from the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Berkeley project, called the “Web Privacy Census,” aims to measure online privacy by conducting periodic web crawls and comparing the number of cookies and other types of tracking technology found over time on the most visited sites." Read more

See also 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Despite ONC's Effort, Comparing PHR Privacy Policies Still Challenging

From the article: "To date, personal health record adoption has been somewhat limited, but the market is expected to get a big boost from Stage 2 of the meaningful use incentive program.

Deven McGraw -- director of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology -- said, "The market for those tools has been a little soft I think because people have really had to hand enter in the data or scan [them] in, as opposed to being able to feed [the information] directly from a provider's electronic health record, unless they happen to be a patient at Kaiser or part of a system that already offers them that tool." However, she said, "That's going to change in 2014 when a lot of the early adopters in the HITECH incentive program begin Stage 2 and start actively encouraging patients to view and potentially download and transmit their data."

But is the industry ready when it comes to privacy and security regulations?" Read more

Established Democracies, Internet Censorship and the Social Media Test

From the report: "Social media can test how firmly entrenched Internet freedom is in established democracies through a comparison with countries with an authoritarian track record. The method is to evaluate the use of social media in recent protests in a sample of established democracies and authoritarian regimes, and to compare differences and similarities in government responses." Read more

How ‘Social Intelligence’ Can Guide Decisions

From the article: "Social media should help companies overcome some limits of old-school intelligence gathering, which typically involves collecting information from a range of public and propriety sources, distilling insights using time-tested analytic methods, and creating reports for internal company “clients” often “siloed” by function or business unit.

Today, many people who have expert knowledge and shape perceptions about markets are freely exchanging data and viewpoints through social platforms. By identifying and engaging these players, employing potent Web-focused analytics to draw strategic meaning from social-media data, and channeling this information to people within the organization who need and want it, companies can develop a “social intelligence” that is forward looking, global in scope, and capable of playing out in real time." Read more

Russia’s Big Leap in Internet Control

From the article: "The Russian government this month began implementing a new Internet filtering policy, including a blacklist of banned Web sites. The policy is supposedly about protecting Russian minors from material about suicide, drugs or child pornography. But human rights advocates warn that the policy is intended to silence legitimate, independent speech in one of the last venues Russians have for it." Read more

Interoperability: Quick Route To Better Care

From the article: "Healthcare quality and efficiency could move forward 20 years in a matter of months if only there were true interoperability of electronic health information, according to a noted critic of the health IT industry.

In the opinion of University of Pennsylvania sociologist Ross Koppel, interoperability would help unlock "rich, extraordinary data that would make medicine more wonderful." Koppel offered this assessment at last week's American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) annual conference in Chicago, where he participated in a panel about why interoperability was "taking so darn long," as AMIA put it." Read more 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicago Designing Predictive Software Platform to Identify Crime Patterns

From the article: "Chicago is designing an analytic software system to improve city services and fight crime.

The system will allow policymakers to analyze disparate pieces of information from across agencies, including crime statistics, building and business permits, and transcripts from resident complaints, Chicago’s chief data officer, Brett Goldstein, told CIO Journal. Goldstein hopes the system, which will be available to all agencies, will help officials parse out patterns for violent crime and allow public workers to provide better services by understanding how different factors affect city life." Read more

Global Survey on Internet Privacy and Freedom of Expression

From the report: "This publication seeks to identify the relationship between freedom of expression and Internet privacy, assessing where they support or compete with each other in different circumstances. The book maps out the issues in the current regulatory landscape of Internet privacy from the viewpoint of freedom of expression. It provides an overview of legal protection, self-regulatory guidelines, normative challenges, and case studies relating to the topic." Read more

Mobile Health Starting to Come of Age

Heussner, Ki Mae. "Mobile Health Starting to Come of Age." Washington Post, November 9, 2012.

From the article: "Mobile health is starting to come of age.  In 2010, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that just 17 percent of cell phone owners used their devices to look up health information. 

But in a study released Thursday, the organization said that figure has climbed to 31 percent.

Mobile health is unsurprisingly even more popular among smartphone users, with 52 percent saying they have consulted their gadgets with medical questions." Read more

See alsoFox, Susannah, and Maeve Duggan. Mobile Health 2012. Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, November 8, 2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ambassador: Web Treaty Plans Pushed by Iran, China Could Lead to Censorship

From the article: "U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer on Friday warned that countries like China and Iran are looking to propose troublesome language for a telecommunications treaty that could lead to online censorship and government monitoring of Web traffic. 

The countries say those proposals are intended to protect computer networks from malicious spam and crack down on online child pornography, but the methods they suggest to accomplish this via the treaty would allow them to see "what information is flowing on the Internet," including what people are doing and saying on the Web, Kramer said at an event hosted by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Transatlantic Relations." Read more 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Despite Obama Win, Health IT Efforts Still Face Heavy Scrutiny

From the article: "The re-election of President Obama to the White House--and Republicans retaining control of the House and Democrats retaining control of the Senate--almost assuredly means the continuation of healthcare IT efforts currently underway such as the Meaningful Use incentive program.

But those efforts will likely face increased oversight and scrutiny…" Read more

U.N. Must Lead Internet Regulation Effort

Toure, Hamadoun I. "U.N. Must Lead Internet Regulation Effort ." Wired, November 7, 2012. 

From the article: "With over 90 percent of the world’s people now within reach of mobile phones, the challenge today is bringing internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population that is still offline. This challenge is compounded by the need to ensure connectivity is affordable and safe for all.

If we can achieve this, all the world’s citizens will have the potential to access unlimited knowledge, to express themselves freely, and to contribute to and enjoy the benefits of the knowledge society.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is the United Nations specialized agency charged with coordinating global information and communication technology (ICT) resources such as satellite slots and international wireless spectrum, will host the World Conference onInternational Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai next month ...

The conference will chart a globally agreed-upon roadmap that offers future connectivity to all, and ensures sufficient communications capacity to cope with the exponential growth in voice, video, and data. The sole focus of the event is making regulations valuable to all stakeholders, creating a robust pillar to support future growth in global communications." Read more

Big Bad Data: Law, Public Health, and Biomedical Databases

From the report: "The accelerating adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems will have profound impacts on clinical care. It will also have far-reaching implications for public health research and surveillance, which in turn could lead to changes in public policy, statutes, and regulations. The public health benefits of EHR use can be significant. However, researchers and analysts who rely on EHR data must proceed with caution and understand the potential limitations of EHRs. 

Much has been written about the risk of EHR privacy breaches. This paper focuses on a different set of concerns, those relating to data quality. EHR data can be erroneous, miscoded, fragmented, and incomplete. In addition, if causation is at issue, analysts must grapple with the complexities of causal inference. Public health findings can be tainted by the problems of selection bias, confounding bias, and measurement bias. These and other obstacles can easily lead to invalid conclusions and unsound public health policies.

The paper will highlight the public health uses of EHRs. It will also probe the shortcomings of EHR information and the challenges of collecting and analyzing it. Finally, we outline several regulatory and other interventions to address data analysis difficulties." Read more

2012: The First Digital Election

From the article: "2012 could well be the Twitter Election. By December, election retweets and hashtags will inevitably feature in the postscript to this election, as tweets are by nature terse and very quotable – easy fodder for journalists. The volume of tweets surged from the moment Romney questioned federal funding to PBS and Big Bird. Many of those with Twitter accounts were raised on Sesame Street. This could be the first election where social media rather than advertising made the difference. ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox are all using the volume of blog and tweet activity as a real time barometer of this too-close-to-call campaign." Read more

See also

The Unbearable Trust of the Internet

From the report: "As a result of the Internet's rapid growth, a number of private sector companies have found themselves thrust from the role of scrappy start-up to prominent global institution in a very short period of time. These new global institutions have had to work to advance accountability and trust without relying entirely on traditional democratic governance mechanisms offered by national organizations. In the past several years, the private, civil and public sectors have worked together to advance an explosion of institutional innovations, each an experiment in building accountability mechanisms and trust for this still-young ecosystem. For the long-term health of the Internet, it is imperative that these experiments continue, and that resources be poured into making the most promising of them a success." Read more

The Two Key Investments to Build Back Better Post-Sandy

From the article: "What disempowered New Yorkers most wanted during the storm, in addition to safety and electricity, was a way to communicate. My suggestion: Prioritize rebooting communications infrastructure for New York City and its environs at the same time that we think seriously about water barriers and other infrastructural needs.

Our communications problems boil down to two central issues: Lack of capacity and lack of a safety net." Read more

Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win

From the article: "Exactly what that team of dozens of data crunchers was doing, however, was a closely held secret. “They are our nuclear codes,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt would say when asked about the efforts. Around the office, data-mining experiments were given mysterious code names such as Narwhal and Dreamcatcher. The team even worked at a remove from the rest of the campaign staff, setting up shop in a windowless room at the north end of the vast headquarters office. The “scientists” created regular briefings on their work for the President and top aides in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, but public details were in short supply as the campaign guarded what it believed to be its biggest institutional advantage over Mitt Romney’s campaign: its data." Read more

The World Is Not Enough: Google and the Future of Augmented Reality

From the article: "It is The Future. You wake up at dawn and fumble on the bedstand for your (Google) Glass. Peering out at the world through transparent screens, what do you see? 

If you pick up a book, do you see a biography of its author, an analysis of the chemical composition of its paper, or the share price for its publisher? Do you see a list of your friends who've read it or a selection of its best passages or a map of its locations or its resale price or nothing? The problem for Google's brains, as it is for all brains, is choosing where to focus attention and computational power. As a Google-structured augmented reality comes closer to becoming a product-service combination you can buy, the particulars of how it will actually merge the offline and online are starting to matter." Read more 

Social Media and Voting

From the report: "On Election Day 2012, the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds social media to be a significant part of the process by which voters are talking about their ballot selections, especially younger voters:
  • 22% of registered voters have let others know how they voted on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter.
Social media platforms have also become a notable venue for people to try to convince their friends to vote.
  • 30% of registered voters have been encouraged to vote for Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney by family and friends via posts on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • 20% of registered voters have encouraged others to vote by posting on a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter." Read more 

Let the Crowd Fix Your Product's Bugs

From the article: "I'm starting to come to the conclusion that of all the myths businesses and their leaders tell themselves, one of the most harmful is that they know where the expertise is. The more I learn about the results from crowdsourcing and open innovation efforts, the more I believe that the smart strategy is to expose your problems and challenges to as many people as possible and let them show you what they can do. Here's my most recent example of the power of this approach." Read more

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CMS: $7.7 Billion in EHR Payments through September

From the article: "More than 300,000 physicians and other eligible professionals have signed up to participate in the federal electronic health-record system incentive payment programs, while more than 4,000 hospitals have enrolled in the Medicare EHR incentive program, the Medicaid incentive program or both, according to the latest CMS data.

In total, $7.7 billion has been paid out in what has been estimated will be $27 billion in incentive payments through the lives of the two programs." Read more 

‘Do Not Track’ Effort at a Standstill

From the article: "Little progress has been made toward implementing a “Do Not Track” button for the Web more than nine months after a highly publicized launch event at the White House. 

Advertisers, privacy groups and government officials came together in February to tout their agreement to give Internet users an easy way to opt out of online tracking.

But stakeholders involved in the effort are "not really any closer to an agreement" to make the feature happen, according to Mike Zaneis, general counsel of the Interactive Advertising Bureau." Read more

Backdoors are Forever: Hacking Team and the Targeting of Dissent?

From the article: "In this report, Citizen Lab Security Researcher Morgan Marquis-Boire describes analysis performed on malicious software used to compromise a high profile dissident residing in the United Arab Emirates. The findings indicate that the software is a commercial surveillance backdoor distributed by an Italian company known as Hacking Team. The report also describes the potential involvement of vulnerabilities sold by the French company, VUPEN." Read more

Choice-of-Law in the Internet Age – US and European Rules

Czigler, Tamas Dezso. "Choice-of-Law in the Internet Age – US and European Rules." Acta Juridica Hungarica - Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies 53 (2012): 193–203.

From the report: "With use of the Internet, a new form of contract has appeared: the electronic contract, which is concluded online. Most of these involve a relationship of two parties: a consumer who is in a relatively vulnerable position, and a business entity. There are numerous examples of such transactions: youngsters downloading music from a website and paying for it – as they would in a music store. Many physical goods can also be purchased online – e.g. even though they live in Europe, the authors of this article regularly purchase books from the US. There are numerous ways such transactions can take place: one of the most obvious ways is buying goods on Amazon or eBay, on the website of a company, or purchasing goods using e-mail communication. The article attempts to summarize the choice of law rules affecting electronic contracts in the US and in Europe – i.e. to give an overview of which country’s or state’s law would apply to a contract concluded online, what the limits are on such a transaction and which state’s laws can protect us in case of a breach." Read more

Wikis Allow Patients to Help Develop Clinical Practice Guidelines

From the article: "Patients can play a key role in developing clinical practice guidelines (CPG) through a specialized wiki, a group of Dutch researchers report in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers tested their theory by developing a wiki about infertility treatment, according to the article, "Feasibility of a Wiki as a Participatory Tool for Patients in Clinical Guideline Development." Read more

There Goes Gravity: How Ebay Reduces Trade Costs

From the report: "This paper compares the impact of distance, a standard proxy for trade costs, on eBay and offline international trade flows. It considers the same set of 62 countries and the same basket of goods for both types of transactions, and finds the effect of distance to be on average 65 percent smaller on the eBay online platform than offline. Using interaction variables, this difference is explained by a reduction of information and trust frictions enabled through online technology. The analysis estimates the welfare gains from a reduction in offline frictions to the level prevailing online at 29 percent on average. Remote countries that are little known, with weak institutions, high levels of income inequality, inefficient ports, and little internet penetration benefit the most, as online markets help overcome government and offline market failure" Read more

Benefits of 4G Overstated, Says Report

From the article: "Superfast broadband is unlikely to deliver the rapid returns for the UK economy that have been predicted, according to a leading business consultancy, before Britain’s first 4G network launch on Tuesday.

The Economist Intelligence Unit will say on Tuesday that expectations of big early returns from superfast fibre and mobile broadband may be overstated, even if there is greater confidence of a beneficial longer-term impact.

….The report – Superfast Britain? Myths and realities about the UK’s broadband future – was sponsored by Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker, and will be presented at a conference on Tuesday attended by Ed Vaizey, communications minister." Read more

Showdown Set on Bid to Give UN Control of Internet

From the article: "It is expected to be the mother of all cyber diplomatic battles.

When delegates gather in Dubai in December for an obscure UN agency meeting, fighting is expected to be intense over proposals to rewrite global telecom rules to effectively give the United Nations control over the Internet.

Russia, China and other countries back a move to place the Internet under the authority of the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency that sets technical standards for global phone calls.

US officials say placing the Internet under UN control would undermine the freewheeling nature of cyberspace, which promotes open commerce and free expression, and could give a green light for some countries to crack down on dissidents.

Observers say a number of authoritarian states will back the move, and that the major Western nations will oppose it, meaning the developing world could make a difference." Read more