Berkman in the News
“The options for getting facts and personal information removed once it’s been posted online in the U.S. are fairly limited,” says Christopher T. Bavitz, managing director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School. “It’s very challenging to regulate the spread of this kind of information, but it’s challenging for very good reasons. The first good reason is the First Amendment.”
Not everyone agrees, though. The group is focused on disrupting the flow of information from al-Sisi’s opponents, but also on trying to compromise them and expose anonymous online activists to identify them and facilitate their arrest, according to Helmi Noman, a researcher with the Berkman Center at Harvard University and the Ciizen Lab at University of Toronto.”They should be taken seriously because of the potential [harm] their attacks can cause, even if they use low level skills such as phishing,” he told Mashable.
This all points to a new normal for the way global Internet companies operate in Europe. Indeed, says Adam Holland, project coordinator at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, the right to be forgotten reflects starkly different notions of privacy in Europe and the US.
“In the US, we value freedom of speech and freedom of info more highly than necessarily moral rights to that information,” says Mr. Holland. “It is a moral issue, not necessarily a legislative issue. The EU places a higher precedent on the rights of the person.”
However, the ultimate irony is that in policing morality on the web, Chinese censors would be pushing citizens toward opportunities to communicate outside government controls. According to Rob Faris of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, unmonitored social networks are Beijing’s greatest fear. Beijing thus might not want to fully implement the censors’ guidelines. But that would force the government to backpedal and confront whatever clique has been pushing to curb titillation. As Mr. Faris notes, “Once you’ve put in the structures and systems for censoring the Internet, it’s vulnerable to the whims of people in power.”
Such transgressions have got Jonathan Zittrain, director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, thinking about how to ensure that data are protected for the promised time period. Among other concerns, he worries for philanthropic donations of papers or personal effects to libraries and the like. Often, such donations are made with a proviso that they not be revealed for a fixed period of time. “That type of donation will not happen if their stuff is only one subpoena away from disclosure,” he says.
An exhaustive 2009 roundup by researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society found the 38 multi-country economic studies of broadband regulation and investment they looked at to be hopelessly split between positive, negative, and inconclusive results. The Berkman researchers also argued that we shouldn’t pay too much heed to the economists because (1) a lot of the studies were sponsored by broadband incumbents, (2) there simply isn’t enough data yet for the empirical surveys to be trusted, and (3) different theoretical models of broadband investment deliver dramatically different results.
Jonathan Zittrain, professor of law and computer science at Harvard, on free speech, privacy, and the long reach of the technology behemoths
Joking aside what exactly is net neutrality?
To understand the concept of net neutrality you first have to understand the backdrop of the Internet itself, says Jonathan Zittrain who heads the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.
“The Internet is kind of a collective hallucination. It is only a set of protocols that say if somebody joining this network, connecting however it can, speaks those protocols, it’s a full-fledged member of the network. That’s one reason why the Internet has no main menu, it has no CEO, it has no business plan,” says Zittrain.
Reynol Junco of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard said social media has “definite positive effects if it is used in an educational way; positive and negative if the kids are left to their own devices.” He advocated for pulling social networks into the educational curriculum, while also warning that playing games through social media was largely a negative experience for kids.