We contacted cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier, who is a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and one of the signatories on today’s letter, to learn more about what prompted the message to the president. Schneier said that repeated anti-encryption comments from top officials such as Comey in the U.S. and Prime Minister David Cameron in the U.K. indicated that “the cryptowars are back. This is Cryptowar 2.”
Berkman in the News
Therefore, cell phones will not be completely out of classrooms anytime soon. Cell phone ownership among young people and children has skyrocketed in the past few years. A Pew Research collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University reported that as of 2013, 78 per cent of teens ages 12 to 17 owned a cell phone, 47 per cent of which were smartphones.
Even simple features can have far-reaching effects, like improving voter turnout. As Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain wrote last year, Facebook could decide an election without anyone knowing it by notifying some users that their friends had voted but not others. While no evidence of “digital gerrymandering” has ever come to light, there’s enough risk to make people keep a close eye on the implementation of Facebook’s efforts to register people to vote and encourage them to participate in the democratic process.
Of all the winners of the 2015 Webby Awards, the winner of the law category might have the most lasting effect. And not just because it’s a groundbreaking project. Rather, perma.cc got the nod for an effort that could help solve a major problem for legal analysts and academics: the tendency, over time, of a hyperlink to “rot,” or lose its original URL.
Not surprisingly, some find fault with that assertion.“There is no scenario in which ‘user choices’ vs. ‘the algorithm’ can be traded off, because they happen together,” writes Christian Sandvig, an associate professor of Communication Studies and Information at the University of Michigan and associate at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, on the blog of the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England.
Christian Sandvig says only 9% of Facebook users identify their “ideological affiliation” in a way that was “interpretable.”Of those that report an affiliation, only 46% reported an affiliation that was “interpretable,” said Sandvig, who is an associate professor at the University of Michigan and a faculty associate of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
The month after my grandmother died, I received several emails from her. Not from her, of course, but from an old AOL email account of hers that had been taken over by spammers. My mother and other family members called to ask me — the granddaughter who studies computer security — to make the emails stop. We were all strangely unsettled by these messages from beyond the grave, by my grandmother’s sudden appearance in our inboxes so soon after we’d lost her. More than just spam, this felt like a ghost in the machine.
“If you’re selling consumers something they can’t live without, and you’re subject to neither oversight nor competition, consumers aren’t going to be happy,” Susan P. Crawford, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, recently told The New York Times.
Susan wford, visiting professor of law at Harvard University and a co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, calls it “a big concern” that Google and Facebook are the ones becoming the portal to Web content for many newcomers.“For poorer people, Internet access will equal Facebook. That’s not the Internet—that’s being fodder for someone else’s ad-targeting business,” she says. “That’s entrenching and amplifying existing inequalities and contributing to poverty of imagination—a crucial limitation on human life.”
Here’s how Rob Faris, research director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, breaks it down.”The basic idea is that all bits are treated equally as they’re passed on to computers,” Faris said.Online, everything’s made of bits — every email, high-resolution photo, or YouTube video. In a world of net neutrality, whether those bits add up to The New York Times home page or your cousin’s cat blog, they are treated equally and delivered at the same speed. Faris says it’s that level playing field that has made the Internet the Internet.”I think most of the innovations we’ve seen on the Internet, people have attributed to the ability for entrepreneurs to get on the Internet and deliver packets and bits unimpeded to consumers on basically equal grounds,” he said.