Berkman in the News
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.
“A lawsuit is an awful way to sort out a situation like this one,” Computer Science and Law Professor Jonathan L. Zittrain wrote in an email Monday to The Crimson, adding that “there may be reasons to rethink how studies of this sort are done—who approves them, and who’s informed about it before, during, and after —but I don’t see any useful role for a lawsuit here, and I suspect the plaintiff’s firm is rather hoping to simply settle, banking on the University not wishing ongoing bad publicity.”
Harvard Law School visiting Professor Susan Crawford spoke with Morning Edition host Bob Seay about Net Neutrality saying the momentum behind the issue and President Obama’s recent support demonstrates the need to give oversight to the Internet. Crawford says, “Net Neutrality isn’t about the cars on the Super information Highway or the Internet, it’s about the roads.”
Options for an American right to be forgotten are beginning to emerge. Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, says focusing on search engines “allows for the information itself to remain public, with a question of how to narrow the indexing of it.” He also praised an experiment launched by Google years ago, allowing people quoted or mentioned in a news article to append a clarifying comment next to the article on the Google News service. The function doesn’t appear to be available any longer.
Justin Reich, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said the potential for a major cyber-attack is real, but the prospect of retaliation is one reason they have not occurred.“It hasn’t happened because mutually assured destruction works, or at least it has for 70 years,” Reich said.