Perry Keller, Senior Lecturer at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London, and author of the recently released paper “Sovereignty and Liberty in the Internet Era,” discusses how the internet affects the relationship between the state and the media. According to Keller, media has played a formative role in the development of the modern state and, as it evolves, the way in which the state governs must change as well. However, that does not mean that there is a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, as Keller demonstrates using real-world examples in the U.S., U.K., E.U., and China, the ways in which new media is governed can differ radically based upon the local legal and cultural environment.
Scott Shackelford, assistant professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University, and author of the soon-to-be-published book Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations: In Search of Cyber Peace, explains how polycentric governance could be the answer to modern cybersecurity concerns.
Shackelford originally began researching collective action problems in physical commons, including Antarctica, the deep sea bed, and outer space, where he discovered the efficacy of polycentric governance in addressing these issues. Noting the similarities between these communally owned resources and the Internet, Shackelford was drawn to the idea of polycentric governance as a solution to the collective action problems he identified in the online realm, particularly when it came to cybersecurity.
Shackelford contrasts the bottom-up form of governance characterized by self-organization and networking regulations at multiple levels to the increasingly state-centric approach prevailing in forums like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Analyzing the debate between Internet sovereignty and Internet freedom through the lens of polycentric regulation, Shackelford reconceptualizes both cybersecurity and the future of Internet governance.
Vinton Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet,” discusses what he sees as one of the greatest threats to the internet—the encroachment of the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (ITU) into the internet realm. ITU member states will meet this December in Dubai to update international telecommunications regulations and consider proposals to regulate the net. Cerf argues that, as the face of telecommunications is changing, the ITU is attempting to justify its continued existence by expanding its mandate to include the internet. Cerf says that the business model of the internet is fundamentally different from that of traditional telecommunications, and as a result, the ITU’s regulatory model will not work. In place of top-down ITU regulation, Cerf suggests that open multi-stakeholder processes and bilateral agreements may be a better solutions to the challenges of governance on the internet.
A small but growing collection of companies has formed a coalition that will push the federal government to establish a standard system by which agencies categorize their data. …
“Our members understand that if the government identified its data elements in consistent ways, there would be vast new opportunities for the tools that they are building,” Executive Director Hudson Hollister said.
Early supporters include Microsoft and data analysis and management firms Level One Technologies, Teradata, and BrightScope. I’m on their Board of Advisors. One of their early priorities will be to pass H.R. 2146, the DATA Act.
(Here’s a nit I can’t help but pick: The Post says the coalition “aims to standardize ‘big data.’” No. It’s just data.)
The Cato Institute’s jobs page has a new posting. If you have the right mix of data/technical skillz, public policy knowledge, love of freedom, and vim, this could be your chance to advance the ball on government transparency! [Added: For more background on Cato's transparency work, see this and this.]
Data Curator, Center on Information Policy Studies
The Cato Institute seeks a data curator to support its government data transparency program. This candidate will perform a variety of functions that translate government documents and activities into semantically rich, machine-readable data. Major duties will include reading legislative documents, marking them up with semantic information, and identifying opportunities for automated identification and extraction of semantic information in documents. The candidate will also oversee the data entry process and train and supervise others to perform data entry. The ideal candidate will have a college degree, preferably in computer science and/or political science, and experience using XML, RDFa, and regular expressions. Attention to detail is a must, with an understanding of U.S federal legislative, spending, and regulatory processes preferred.
Applicants should send their resume, cover letter, and a short writing sample to:
Director of Information Policy Studies
1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
Fax (202) 842-3490
Here’s an exclusive insider tip for TechLiberationFront readers. Don’t send your application by fax! That would send the wrong signal…
Paying close attention to language can reveal what’s going on in the world around you.
Note the simple but important differences between the phrases “open government” and “open government data.” In the former, the adjective “open” modifies the noun “government.” Hearing the phrase, one would rightly expect a government that’s more open. In the latter, “open” and “government” modify the noun “data.” One would expect the data to be open, but the question whether the government is open is left unanswered. The data might reveal something about government, making government open, or it may not.
Recent public policies have stretched the label “open government” to reach any public sector use of [open] technologies. Thus, “open government data” might refer to data that makes the government as a whole more open (that is, more transparent), but might equally well refer to politically neutral public sector disclosures that are easy to reuse, but that may have nothing to do with public accountability.
It’s a worthwhile formal articulation and reminder of a trend I’ve noted in passing once or twice.
There’s nothing wrong with open government data, but the heart of the government transparency effort is getting information about the functioning of government. I think in terms of a subject-matter trio—deliberations, management, and results—data about which makes for a more open, more transparent government. Everything else, while entirely welcome, is just open government data.
President Obama’s third full year in office came to an end last week, and I’ve reviewed how well he’s doing with one particular campaign promise on the Cato@LIberty blog. “Sunlight Before Signing” is the moniker for the president’s campaign promise to post online the bills Congress sends him for five days before signing them.
At last Thursday’s FCC Open Commission Meeting, the Commission proposed to require television stations to make their “public inspection file” available online. But availability is not accessibility.
If the FCC follows its usual practice of having filers submit PDFs
(many of which are often scanned from printed documents), this data may
be nearly useless to the small number of researchers who would really
benefit from having a large set of public inspection files available
online. Continue reading →
Remember when you had to wait until the end of the month to see your bank statement?
Last week, on the cusp of failing to pass any annual appropriations bills ahead of the October 1 start of the new fiscal year, congressional leaders came up with a short-term government funding bill (or “continuing resolution”) that would fund the government until November 18th. For whatever reason, that deal (H.R. 2608) wasn’t ready to go before the end of the week, so Congress passed an even shorter-term continuing resolution (H.R. 2017) that funds the government until tomorrow, October 4th.
Every weekend, I hunch over my computer and update key records in the database of WashingtonWatch.com, a government transparency website I run as a non-partisan, non-ideological resource. Then I put a summary of what’s going on into an email like this one (subscribe!) that goes out to 7,000 or so of my closest friends.
Last weekend, the Library of Congress’ THOMAS website, which is one of my resources, was down a good chunk of the time for maintenance. Even after it came up again, some materials such as bill text and committee reports weren’t available. (They had come up by the wee hours this morning.) Maintenance is necessary sometimes, though when the service provider I use for the WashingtonWatch.com email does maintenance, it’s usually for an hour or so in the middle of a weekend night.