Posts tagged with ‘policy’

How The Next FCC Head Will Affect the News →

Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, announced recently that he’s stepping down.

The agency focuses on broadband, competition, the spectrum, the media, and public safety and homeland security, and the Columbia Journalism Review looks at how decisions made under the next FCC chief will affect the news:

  • That person will likely decide whether Rupert Murdoch and other big media owners will be allowed to own both newspapers and TV or radio stations in large markets.
  • With more newspapers reducing print schedules and relying solely on digital, the next FCC chair will determine ways to either make broadband more accessible and cheaper or whether to maintain the status quo, with rising prices and a limited number of competitors in the marketplace.
  • The FCC is the only agency with a mandate to make the media more diverse, local, and accountable. A new chief could choose to use its enforcement powers to ensure diversity is reflected in the voices, perspectives, and owners in media.
  • The new chairperson could also determine whether to make political advertising more transparent in TV ads and online.

Read through for explanations of each.

Observed US Temperature Change
A new report by the US Global Change Research Program explores climate change and its implications. The first draft, issued for public review, is the work of a 60-person advisory committee and 240 different authors. It draws on data from across US agencies.
Via the report (PDF):

U.S. temperatures will continue to rise, with the next few decades projected to see another 2°F to 4°F of warming in most areas. The amount of warming by the end of the century is projected to correspond closely to the cumulative global emissions of greenhouse gases up to that time: roughly 3°F to 5°F under a lower emissions scenario involving substantial reductions in emissions after 2050 (referred to as the “B1 scenario”), and 5°F to 10°F for a higher emissions scenario assuming continued increases in emissions (referred to as the “A2 scenario”)…
Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather. Increases in ocean and freshwater temperatures, frost-free days, and heavy downpours have all been documented. Sea level has risen, and there have been large reductions in snow-cover extent, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. Winter storms along the west coast and the coast of New England have increased slightly in frequency and intensity. These changes and other climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society.

Image: Observed US Temperature Change, via the NCADAC. “The colors on the map show temperature changes over the past 20 years in °F (1991-2011) compared to the 1901-1960 average. The bars on the graphs show the average temperature changes by decade for 1901-2011 (relative to the 1901-1960 average) for each region. The far right bar in each graph (2000s decade) includes 2011. The period from 2001 to 2011 was warmer than any previous decade in every region. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC. Data from NOAA NCDC.)” Select to embiggen.

Observed US Temperature Change

A new report by the US Global Change Research Program explores climate change and its implications. The first draft, issued for public review, is the work of a 60-person advisory committee and 240 different authors. It draws on data from across US agencies.

Via the report (PDF):

U.S. temperatures will continue to rise, with the next few decades projected to see another 2°F to 4°F of warming in most areas. The amount of warming by the end of the century is projected to correspond closely to the cumulative global emissions of greenhouse gases up to that time: roughly 3°F to 5°F under a lower emissions scenario involving substantial reductions in emissions after 2050 (referred to as the “B1 scenario”), and 5°F to 10°F for a higher emissions scenario assuming continued increases in emissions (referred to as the “A2 scenario”)…

Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather. Increases in ocean and freshwater temperatures, frost-free days, and heavy downpours have all been documented. Sea level has risen, and there have been large reductions in snow-cover extent, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. Winter storms along the west coast and the coast of New England have increased slightly in frequency and intensity. These changes and other climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society.

Image: Observed US Temperature Change, via the NCADAC. “The colors on the map show temperature changes over the past 20 years in °F (1991-2011) compared to the 1901-1960 average. The bars on the graphs show the average temperature changes by decade for 1901-2011 (relative to the 1901-1960 average) for each region. The far right bar in each graph (2000s decade) includes 2011. The period from 2001 to 2011 was warmer than any previous decade in every region. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC. Data from NOAA NCDC.)” Select to embiggen.

Want an Open Internet? There's a Blueprint for That →

Yesterday Jihii wrote about an effort originating in the Reddit community to crowdsource a privacy bill to protect people’s online rights.

Perhaps, then, a trend, because yesterday also saw the launch The Internet Blueprint, an effort by Public Knowledge, a Washington DC-based digital advocacy group, that crowdsources technology bills that members of Congress can then pick up and run with.

The idea is certainly interesting. What we saw recently in the fights over SOPA and PIPA — and see generally over everything else — is reactive protests against proposed laws drafted with little public input and often by the lobbyists whose groups will most benefit from them.

The Internet Blueprint attempts to turn this process on its head by proactively promoting Internet-related laws that are written in public, by the public (and with Public Knowledge lawyers massaging them into proper DC legalese). Visitors to the site can vote up and comment on particular bills, vote on ideas they think should become proposed bills, and contact their representatives to get behind completed bills.

Via Public Knowledge:

While it can be reasonably easy to get people to agree on broad principles, conflict can often come when it is time to focus on details. That is especially true when it comes to legislative language – a single word (or even a single comma) can change the impact of a bill. That is why The Internet Blueprint goes beyond broad concepts and proposes concrete legislative language. The bills on The Internet Blueprint could be introduced and passed as-is.

The Internet Blueprint is a place for everyone – individuals, organizations, and companies – to come together and make it clear what is important to them. When you visit the site, the first thing you will see is a list of complete bills. Along with the text there is a headline, a short explanation, and a more detailed explanation of both the problem and our solution.

Public Knowledge has seeded the site with a few completed bills that focus on copyright policy and openness in international intellectual property negotiations. You can view them here.

Four Ways to Slice Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal

A slightly hallucinogenic interactive from the New York Times.

Images: Screenshots of the New York Times infographic on President Obama’s budget proposal. Green indicates an increase in spending. Red indicates a decrease. Shown here are the overall budget, changes in discretionary spending and budgets by department. 

SOPA and PIPA are prime examples of big companies trying to do everything they can to stop new competitors from innovating. They’re also examples of how lobbying in the United States has become one of the most effective ways of limiting this sort of competition.

— James Allworth and Maxwell Wessel, Harvard Business Review. The Real SOPA Battle: Innovators vs. Goliath.

As Web Protests SOPA, Two Senators Change Course →

Via the New York Times

Internet protests on Wednesday quickly cut into Congressional support for anti-web piracy measures as lawmakers abandoned and rethought their backing for legislation that pitted new media interests against some of the most powerful old-line commercial interests in Washington.

Freshman Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, was first out of the starting gate Wednesday morning with his announcement that he would no longer back anti-Internet piracy legislation he had co-sponsored. Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who heads the campaign operation for his party, quickly followed suit and urged Congress take more time to study the measure that had been set for a test vote next week.

SOPA Dead, PIPA Next? →

Via the Examiner:

In a surprise move today, Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA, effectively killing the bill. This move was most likely due to several things. One of those things is that SOPA and PIPA met huge online protest against the bills. Another reason would be that the White House threatened to veto the bill if it had passed. However, it isn’t quite time yet to celebrate, as PIPA(the Senate’s version of SOPA) is still up for consideration.

A common refrain in Silicon Valley is that Congress should be smart enough to know how the Internet works. It may sound reasonable, but it isn’t. There are 535 people in Congress who are responsible for passing laws that relate to the environment, pharmaceuticals, transportation, infrastructure, foreign policy, social services — every topic under the sun.

Although it’s a top-of-mind issue for us, neither California Senator Dianne Feinstein nor Senator Barbara Boxer list PIPA (the Senate equivalent of SOPA) on their top issues pages. It’s unreasonable to expect that members of Congress, many of whom are career politicians, study our business. Some make gut reactions in the name of privacy or fear of “hacking.”…

…In an accident of geography, technology has to fight for advocacy in Congress with Hollywood because both are represented by senators from California. If you look at campaign contributions alone, Hollywood does a much better job at reaching out to Senators Feinstein and Boxer than the Internet industry does. According to OpenSecrets.org, Feinstein has received $168,000 from the TV/movie/music industry vs. $86,465 from the Internet industry in the 2012 campaign cycle. Boxer has received $898,568 from Hollywood vs. $431,489 from the Internet industry.

Both of California’s senators are listed as co-sponsors of PIPA.

The cynical thing to do is assume that members of Congress are acting purely in their own financial interests. That may be true for some, but just as many believe that they are doing the right thing. That’s because we suck at presenting our side.

Rocky Agrawal, VentureBeat. If SOPA passes, we’re as much to blame as Congress and Hollywood.

Agrawal argues that SOPA and PIPA opponents must do a better job at educating politicians and the media on these issues and their consequences.

Hey, honey! It’s the entertainment industry — they’re here to fix our Internet.
Noise to Signal.

Hey, honey! It’s the entertainment industry — they’re here to fix our Internet.

Noise to Signal.

Mexico’s Drug War
The Guardian is publishing an important and eye-opening series that explores Mexico’s ongoing drug war. 
The series mixes media with stories presented in a variety of formats. For example:
Text: The US gun smugglers recruited by one of Mexico’s most brutal cartels 
Interactive: Mexico’s war on drugs: stories from the front line
Video: Mexico drug wars: ‘the majority of the weapons used by the cartels are coming from the US’
Image: Still from an interactive timeline indicating that Mexican media organizations estimate 45,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past five years.

Mexico’s Drug War

The Guardian is publishing an important and eye-opening series that explores Mexico’s ongoing drug war

The series mixes media with stories presented in a variety of formats. For example:

Image: Still from an interactive timeline indicating that Mexican media organizations estimate 45,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence over the past five years.

This week, the free and open Internet millions of Americans have come to depend on is under attack.

In a procedural move, Senate Republicans are trying to overturn the rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put in place late last year to help protect net neutrality — the simple idea that all content and applications on the Internet should be treated the same, regardless of who owns the content or the website. The House already pushed through this dangerous legislation, which would effectively turn control of the Internet over to a handful of very powerful corporations.

I sincerely hope the Senate doesn’t follow suit, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure this terrible legislation never reaches the President’s desk.

While millions of Americans have become familiar with the concept of net neutrality, it’s important that we’re all on the same page. Net neutrality isn’t a government takeover of the Internet, as many of my Republican colleagues have alleged. It isn’t even a change from what we have now. Net neutrality has been in place since the very beginning of the Internet.

What Google’s “Real Names” Policy Teaches the Newsroom

Google’s caught a lot of heat over its G+ real name policy. Part of it’s simply the arbitrary nature of the real name enforcement: many people using their real names — and well known nicknames — have been kicked off Plus. 

But there’s a much deeper and more important conversation taking place that has to do with identity, privacy and the right to anonymity.

Danah Boyd, a researcher with Microsoft and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center, considers real name policies an abuse of power:

I’m really really glad to see seriously privileged people take up the issue, because while they are the least likely to actually be harmed by “real names” policies, they have the authority to be able to speak truth to power. And across the web, I’m seeing people highlight that this issue has more depth to it than fun names (and is a whole lot more complicated than boiling it down to being about anonymity, as Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg foolishly did).

What’s at stake is people’s right to protect themselves, their right to actually maintain a form of control that gives them safety. If companies like Facebook and Google are actually committed to the safety of its users, they need to take these complaints seriously. Not everyone is safer by giving out their real name. Quite the opposite; many people are far LESS safe when they are identifiable. And those who are least safe are often those who are most vulnerable.

News sites are continuously grappling with how to elevate the tone of reader comments. One chosen way is to make people use their real names in order to comment on stories. For example, some sites require you to swipe your credit card for a nominal one-time fee (say, a dollar) in order to prove you’re you.

Site’s that have done this (or found other ways to implement “real name” systems) generally report that while the overall number of comments goes down, the quality of discussion improves. That is, there’s less of an impulse to lob rhetorical bombs when people know exactly who you are.

But apply what Boyd writes here to the newspaper rather than the social network and we have the same dynamic. Namely, the paper dictating who can comment and participate, and ignoring the very real reasons why some in a community would need to anonymously contribute to a conversation about sensitive issues.

If news sites want to clean up comment sections, create a civil culture within them by having moderators, reporters and editors set the tone by actively participating in them. Otherwise, your crazies with an axe to grind will continue to ruin the roost.

The United States will ensure that the risks associated with attacking or exploiting our networks vastly outweigh the potential benefits.

The United States released its “International Strategy for Cyberspace" (PDF) Monday.

Translated diplomatize comes from Ars Technica: Hack Us and We Might Bomb You.

Clearly what we’ve seen over the last couple of years is the power of the Internet. And what we’ve seen is that countries that are not supportive of the Internet are working together, sharing information to try to push back. That’s very clear. We see cooperation between Cuba and Venezuela. We see the Iranians as well. We have the emergence of Freedom 2.0 and the reaction of Repression 2.0. We need to see this as more than a human rights issue.

Robert Guerra, Director of the Internet Freedom Project at Freedom House, via an interview with Deutsche Welle. New Internet freedom report ranks Estonia first, Iran last.

In mid-April, Freedom House released a 400-plus page report on Internet freedom in 37 different countries.

The report concludes that “threats to internet freedom are growing and have become more diverse. Cyber attacks, politically-motivated censorship, and government control over internet infrastructure have emerged as especially prominent threats.”