June 26, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 24, 2011
June 19, 2011
Almost week after week, I read and hear about the dangers of cyber attacks and whether "the big one" is coming.
Just last week, the Federal Times (13 June 2011) wrote that the "U.S. government computer networks are attacked about 1.8 billion times per month."
June 18, 2011
June 17, 2011
June 16, 2011
I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to have worked and learned with such talented and dedicated professionals in the Office of Science and Technology.
June 15, 2011
June 11, 2011
Good Online is reporting (10 June 2011) that the “U.N. Declares Internet Access a Human Right.”
According to the U.N. report, “The Internet has become a key means by which individuals exercise their right to freedom of expression.”
But as Good points out, this is not just a “third-world concern,” since even in America those without high-speed access cannot adequately perform certain functions “and that surely this affects their ability to get informed, educated, and employed.”
The U.N. is pushing for more protections for people to “assert themselves freely online,” but Good proposes that Internet access means more than just freedom of expression, but also the right to more public Wi-Fi access, better access to technology in libraries and I would assume in schools as well.
Interestingly enough, just on Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg of NYC and AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson announced that as part of NYC’s “Road Map for the Digital City,” they were launching a five-year initiative for free Wi-Fi service at 20 NYC parks—this is seen as a “critical developmental tool” for children, families, and communities.
The Internet stands alone as a technology that is now a “human right.” Radios, televisions, and telephones—none of these have that status. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but the technologies that enable them are not seen as a human right.
Similarly, access to the printing press (i.e. the technology for printing) itself is not a human right—rather, freedom of press (i.e. expression through print) is.
Do we not communicate and express ourselves over radio, TV, telephone, and other technologies as we do over the Internet? Do we not get information from them and through them? Do we not reach out with them to others both nationally and globally as we do over Net?
The answer to all of these is of course, we do.
So what is distinct about the Internet that the mere access to it is declared a human right?
I believe it is the fact that the Internet is the first technology whose very access enables the protection of all the other human rights, since it empowers EVERYONE to hear and speak from and to the masses about what is going in—whether in the tumultuous streets of the Arab Spring to the darkest prisons silencing political dissent.
While radio and television, in their time, were important in getting information and entertainment, but they were essentially unidirectional modes of communication and these can be manipulated by the powers that be. Similarly, the telephone while important to bridging communications over vast distances was for the most part constrained between two or at most a few individuals conversing. And publishing was limited to the realm of the professionals with printing presses.
In contrast, the Internet enables each person to become their own TV producer (think YouTube), radio announcer (think iTunes), telephone operator (think Skype) or publisher (think websites, blogs, wikis, etc.).
The Internet has put tremendous power into the hands of every individual. This is now a declared right. With that right, there is a tremendous responsibility to share information and collaborate with others for the benefit of all.
Of course, as a powerful tool of expression, the Internet can also be used malevolently to express hatred, racism, bigotry, etc. and to malign other people, their thoughts or opinions. Of course, it can also be used to steal, spy, hack, and otherwise disrupt normal civilization.
So we also all have the responsibility to behave appropriately, fairly, and with dignity to each other on the Internet.
While I applaud the U.N. for declaring the Internet a human right, I would like to see this expanded to include both a right and responsibility—this to me would be more balanced and beneficial to building not only access, but also giving and tolerance.
(Photo Source: WorldVisionReport.org)
June 9, 2011
By now we are all familiar with the news story regarding a prominent lawmaker, recently married, who admitted to a longstanding pattern of inappropriate sexual exploits via Twitter.
As The Wall Street Journal (9 June 2011) notes, the individual got caught when he “mistakenly sent the photo to tens of thousands of Twitter followers,” rather than as a private message.
As a public servant who is a proponent of social media technology used appropriately, I was very concerned when I saw this in the news (note: all opinions my own).
The government needs social media tools like Twitter. It is an important tool for sharing information and alerts. It is obviously not for “sexting” your followers, especially with a Twitter handle that is apparently coming from someone in the government.
Twitter is an important means of engaging the public in important ways, moving this great country forward on policy issues and a vision that is noble, righteous, and for the betterment of our world. What a shame when these tools are misappropriated!
So while I cannot say “with certitude” what exactly this person was thinking, I am certain that we need social media in government and that there are numerous positive ways for it to be applied. With the caveat that the basis for social media by anyone in government has to be truth, transparency and genuine outreach on issues of importance to the people.
A lot of government people and agencies are doing a good job with Twitter and other social media tools. Let's go back to focusing on the positive work that we can do with them, even as we note with caution how badly they can be misused.
June 7, 2011
John Lennon sang the song Imagine—envisioning a time when everyone will be at peace “and the world will be as one.”
Perusing the bookstore, I came across a relatively new book that came out last year called 2048 by J. Kirk Boyd, Executive Director of the 2048 Project at the U.C. Berkeley Law School that carries a vision of peace, unity and human rights similar to the song.
By 2048, Boyd envisions a world with an “agreement to live together”—marked by an International Bill of Rights with five key freedoms:
1) Freedom of Speech—includes freedoms of expression, media, assembly, and associations.
2) Freedom of Religion—the right to worship in your own way and separation of church and state.
3) Freedom from Want—everyone has a right to a useful and fairly paying job, a decent home, adequate medical care, and a good education.
4) Freedom from Fear—freedom from repression, enabled by an independent judiciary and the enforcement of the rule of law.
5) Freedom of the Environment—driven by preservation and sustainability for future generations.
I would see the freedoms in the U.S. Bill of Rights that are not explicitly mentioned here to be implicitly covered by the broad categories of Freedoms from Want and Fear.
For example, the right to bear arms and such could be covered under the Freedom of Want. Similarly, the guarantees to a speedy, public trial and not to be put in double jeopardy or unreasonably searched etc. could be covered under Freedom from Fear.
Boyd’s 2048 implementation of an International Bill of Rights carries forward the Declaration of Human Rights—that consists of 30 articles—by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948—on it’s one hundred year anniversary—that has unfortunately not been fully realized yet.
In a time when so much oppression, repression, and global poverty still exist, I am awed by this vision and call for human rights throughout the world.
I like the clarity and simplicity of Boyd’s five freedoms. They can be easily understood and remembered.
The freedoms according to Boyd will enable us to focus together, think (and write) together, decide together, and move forward together.
This is a far different world than the one we live in today that is driven by scarcity, power and politics and that keep people in seemingly perpetual fighting mode.
What will it take to reach a world architecture that brings peace, prosperity, and dignity to all? A global catastrophe. A common enemy. A messianic fulfillment. Or is it possible, with G-d’s help, to move today—incrementally—through our own planning, reason and devices to live in peace as one humankind?
June 5, 2011
June 4, 2011
(Source Photo: CrunchGear)