Information society

Defining internet universality indicators: Participate in the first phase of the online consultation!
Defining internet universality indicators: Participate in the first phase of the online consultation! 22 June 2017

In 2015, UNESCO put the concept of “Internet Universality” at the heart of its work to promote an internet that works for all. Internet Universality points to four “fundamental norms that have been embodied in the broad evolution of the Internet to date, and which provide a comprehensive way to understand how multiple different aspects are part of a wider whole.” These norms – known for short as the ROAM principles – are concerned with: Rights (R) Openness (O) Accessibility (A) Mu...

Inside the Information Society: The impact of the Internet on democratic politics
Inside the Information Society: The impact of the Internet on democratic politics 23 April 2018 David Souter

One of the biggest news stories about the Internet in Britain and America right now concerns Facebook, a company called Cambridge Analytica, and the impact that they might have had on democratic decisions.  Two decisions in particular: the narrow vote in Britain to leave the European Union, and the election of Donald Trump. This story’s about many things: the power that data gives to data companies like Facebook; the potential that it gives those companies and others to influence opini...

Inside the Information Society: Whatever happened to competition online?
Inside the Information Society: Whatever happened to competition online? 15 April 2018 David Souter

The Internet, it used to be said, would let a thousand flowers bloom. The low cost of market entry would enable thousands of application and content developers to reach out to users. There’d be more diversity, more choice, more freedom for users to exercise that choice. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Sure, it’s easier for individuals and small companies to bring some...

Inside the Information Society: Competition - what happened to telecommunications?
Inside the Information Society: Competition - what happened to telecommunications? 09 April 2018 David Souter

Last week I wrote about the relationship between innovation and regulation in communications.  I identified six areas of that relationship which I said I’d write about over the next few months (along with other issues).  First up, this week and next, is competition.  This week some history and ‘points of principle’; next week, some implications for today/tomorrow.  (Th...

Inside the Information Society: Permissionless innovation and the precautionary principle
Inside the Information Society: Permissionless innovation and the precautionary principle 02 April 2018 David Souter

Facebook’s leading the news again, at least in Europe and America. Its current ‘crisis’ – if that’s what it is – has focused attention on the desirability or otherwise of regulation: of itself, its peers, the Internet in general. Can online businesses be trusted to do what’s right (with data or in other ways), or should they be regulated like other economic sectors? This week: a f...

Inside the Information Society: The road to artificial intelligence
Inside the Information Society: The road to artificial intelligence 26 March 2018 David Souter

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of this year’s hottest topics.  Governments and businesses are investing big-time (China’s said by some to be best placed).  Wide-eyed consultancies spell out the wonders they foresee ahead (with predictions of big dollars).  Androids and robots stalk the silver screen.  I’ve been listening lately to AI experts talking of AI, and mos...

Inside the Information Society: The Internet – but whose jurisdiction?
Inside the Information Society: The Internet – but whose jurisdiction? 05 March 2018 David Souter

I’ve been attending the second Internet and Jurisdiction Conference in Ottawa. This post is not a comment on the conference but on the context for resolving issues that it raises. What’s the question? The underlying question’s the relationship between national law and the international nature of the Internet. There’s an issue of philosophy in this, but also one of practice. So...

Inside the Information Society: W[h]ither Facebook?
Inside the Information Society: W[h]ither Facebook? 26 February 2018 David Souter

I don’t have a Facebook profile.  People ask me why I don’t?  After all, it seems, this puts me in the minority among users of the Internet worldwide.  Answering this question’s made me consider my relationship with social media, and social media’s relationship with our society.   A more personal post than most, therefore, this week, leading to some general observati...

Inside the Information Society: It was twenty years ago today
Inside the Information Society: It was twenty years ago today 19 February 2018 David Souter

Twenty years ago, in 1998, the UK Department for International Development asked me to help it ‘determine the value of involvement in information and communication technology in support of its objective of eliminating poverty in poorer countries.’ I’ve just re-read the paper and the presentation that I gave in response to that invitation. They’re a telling reminder of what’s changed a...

Inside the Information Society: Cybersecurity
Inside the Information Society: Cybersecurity 13 February 2018 David Souter

Cybersecurity’s become the most important issue for many people working on the future of the Internet.   The more important the Internet becomes to everything we do, and the more societies become dependent on it, the more vulnerable we are to those who would exploit it to our disadvantage. Loss of trust in the Internet would pose a major problem to governments, online businesses and user...

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