Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Internet freedom prevails over Guardian gag order

padraig_reidy- Padraig Reidy is news editor at Index on Censorship. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Solicitors Carter-Ruck have withdrawn the terms of an injunction preventing the Guardian from reporting a parliamentary question by Newcastle-under-Lyme Labour MP and former journalist Paul Farrelly.

This has been seen - rightly -  as a victory for free expression, and a demonstration of the amazing power of the web in the face of attempted censorship.

Once the Guardian had published its slightly cryptic story on its website last night, containing such tantalising phrases as: “Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret”, it was inevitable that people would go searching.

Within hours, the Internet was alive with speculation, links to leaked documents, and republication of cached articles. At one point on Tuesday morning, phrases relating to the case constituted four of Twitter’s top ten “trending topics” --- a scarcely believable profile for a story that, technically, no one was supposed to be talking about.

from The Great Debate UK:

The end of .com, the beginning of .yourbrand

Joe White-Joe White is chief operating officer at Gandi, an Internet domain name registration firm. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Despite the importance of domain names for companies and the extraordinary amount of money many have paid for them, the vast majority of businesses are unprepared for imminent changes to the Internet.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the international body that oversees the structure of the internet, is liberalising the market for domain name extensions – the .com or .net part of a web address – from the beginning of 2010. This means that anyone, in theory, can apply to operate an extension. So alongside .com, .net, and .org, we will see .whateveryoulike.

from The Great Debate UK:

Does the Internet empower or censor?

What if the Internet is not really a utopian democratic catalyst of change?

The Web is often seen as a positive means of instilling democratic freedoms in countries under authoritarian rule, but many regimes are now using it to subvert democracy, Evgeny Morozov, a contributing editor at "Foreign  Policy", proposes.

The Internet can actually inhibit rather than empower civil society, Morozov, argued in a lecture on Tuesday at London's Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Social media platforms are being used by certain governments to create a "spinternet" to influence public opinion. They are also being used as part of a process of "authoritarian deliberation" to try and increase the legitimacy of authoritarian rule, he said.

from The Great Debate UK:

Google juice dampens news headlines

Mic Wright

- Mic Wright is Online News Editor at Stuff. The views expressed are his own -

Google juice – it sure isn't tasty but it is vital for anyone writing news online. The slightly irksome term refers to the mysterious combination of keywords and linking that will drag a webpage to the top of Google's search pages.

While the exact way Google's search algorithm works is largely a mystery to outsiders, news sites know it's vital to write headlines stuffed with the keywords that the search engine seeks out.

Online, the perfect punning headlines created by The Sun newspaper's super sub-editors just won't cut it. News stories on the web are all about the facts and the most successful sites are constantly checking to see what keywords will send you soaring up the Google search rankings. If you story isn't on the front page, it's not getting clicks, the less clicks you get the less likely it is that your advertisers' ads are going to get seen.

China’s Web filtering starts in the West

Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

The Chinese government has backed away from mandating filtering software on all personal computers in China, in a move that averts a dangerous escalation in its censorship powers.

But however controversial and unworkable China’s plan to require Internet filters on PCs proved to be, Western firms have largely themselves to blame for creating and selling such filters in the first place.

Computer industry hopes lie in the clouds

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

No one can easily define it.

But the next phase of the computer revolution is busy being born out of the ashes of the current economic crisis. The new approach delivers computing power as a service over the Web, like an electric utility, instead of making customers buy computers they manage themselves.

It goes by the hazy term of “cloud computing.”

Forget your tidy distinctions between hardware and software, networking and storage, the Web and the desktop. Most disappear as they merge into the cloud.

Advancing global Internet freedom

Leslie Harris – Leslie Harris is the president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, DC. The views expressed are her own. —

In the wake of troubling reports as recently as last year that Western companies were assisting China with Internet censorship and the unmasking of cyber-dissidents, governments around the world seemed poised to regulate the conduct of Internet companies. Lawmakers appear to have stepped back from those efforts, but the challenges of advancing global Internet freedom remain.

The Global Online Freedom Act, drafted in the U.S. Congress, would have made it a crime for Internet companies to turn over personal information to governments in cases where that information could be used to punish dissent. The bill produced a firestorm of controversy. Human rights groups campaigned for swift passage, while the tech industry scrambled to stop the bill, which they viewed as a global eviction order from many difficult but emerging markets. At the same time, several members of the European Parliament proposed a European version of the measure, taking the accompanying controversy global.

First 100 Days: Harness the genie of citizen engagement

dontapscottheadshotDon Tapscott is chairman of the think tank nGenera Insight and the author of 13 books on the impact of the Internet on society. His latest book, Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing your World, discusses the Obama campaign and its implications for democracy. The views expressed are his own.

When President Obama announced last month that he’ll ask ordinary Americans to help him change America, it didn’t take long for the influencers inside the Washington beltway to ring the alarm: What happens if ordinary Americans actually come up with some new ideas to run government? Will things get out of control? Will they become bullies who will force Obama and Congressional lawmakers to bend to their will?

To me, they sound a lot like the traditional marketers who are worried that they’re losing control over their brand. Both marketers and lawmakers are struggling to adjust to a digital world where consumers and voters now have powerful tools to talk back, and even influence the brand or the policy. So let me give the Washington lawmakers the same message I have delivered to the marketers: Let go. You can’t control everything. The genie has slipped out of the bottle and she’s not coming back. And I think this is a really good thing.

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