Reading09: The Sky is a Neighborhood

Net Neutrality is a very broad term that essential has three components. First is the idea of blocking, that Internet Service Providers, ISP, cannot discriminate against lawful content by blocking websites or apps. This is essentially saying that the ISPs is restricted from creating a service similar to cable tv, where channels have to pay the cable provider in order to carry the channels and as such the providers essentially control what channels are able to be shown to the public. This makes sure that so long as the website is legal, the ISP cannot stop a consumer from getting to a website simply because the website is not paying the ISP. Second is the idea of throttling, ISPs cannot slow the transmission of data because of the nature of the content so long as that content is lawful. Essentially the ISPs cannot favor certain content over another, they cannot let’s say slow data transmission for video streaming data, while allowing text data to be loaded at full speed. Finally is the idea of paid prioritization, the idea that an “internet fast lane” could be created by ISPs that allow certain websites that pay for it to have faster data transmission simply because they paid for it. In other words, if facebook and google pay for faster data streaming but netflix does not, theoretically facebook and google would load faster than netflix. There are many arguments for and against Net Neutrality. Those that argue that Net Neutrality is a positive focus on the internet being free for all websites and apps an for this reason allowing these websites and apps to innovate more. They argue that if bigger companies had to pay for an “internet fast lane” they would then have less money to spend on innovation. Supporters also argue that with net neutrality repealed start ups would have a more difficult time competing with larger companies because where larger companies could probably afford to pay for faster internet access while startups could not. Those that argue for Net Neutrality argue that if ISPs were able to charge for “internet fast lanes,” they would then be able to improve their networks and also then improve competition within the industry. Currently there is a limited amount of competition within the ISPs most simply have relatively low data transfer rates and no competition in geographic areas. Without Net Neutrality, there would be more options for competition in the market. For this reason I am against Net Neutrality. While the idea of a free and open internet sounds like a wonderful idea, the internet is at the current moment still only accessible through private businesses. The United States has relatively low internet speeds, largely due to a lack of competition in the ISP industry. Without Net Neutrality there would be more competition and more reason for innovation within the ISP industry. Also, the argument that the average consumer would experience a difference because of a lack of Net Neutrality. Most of the websites most people use every day are owned by large businesses and as such would be able to pay for the faster internet lane. Also the idea that startups would be limited by increased prices is possible, it could also just be seen as another expense for the start up, just like how a nice building could be another expense if the startup were a brick and mortar store. That said the idea of totally blocking websites and creating an a le carte internet is frightening. For this reason I think the FCC should to a large degree not have net neutrality, but also not allow ISPs to create an internet like cable channels. That is to a large degree the beauty of the internet, that even if it takes forever to load we are able to access the entirety of the internet. Thus while not necessarily creating a totally even playing field, the government should ensure people the ability to access the entire internet.

Reading 08: Something Human

The concept of Corporate Personhood is that corporations have many of the same rights as people according to the law. Corporations have a freedom of speech, they also have other similar rights and recently they have been confirmed to have the freedom of religion. At first this concept seemed totally absurd. How could a corporation have the same rights as a person, like some critics have said, they cannot die, or go to prison. However, after reading the article by Kent Greenfield I am a lot more open to the idea of corporations being considered people under the law. Greenfield points out that in many ways in order to ensure that the government does not gain undue control over the private sector corporations must be considered people to a degree. Greenfield provided a great example of the Pentagon Papers. If the corporations, the New York Times and the Washington Post, could be considered people, they were able to have the freedom of speech and the ability to print these papers that the government was trying very hard to stop from being printed. This is just one example where the rights afforded to corporations because they are considered people have a positive impact on society. For this reason I feel like the corporation should have limited rights that are related to being a person. So for example they should have the right to freedom of speech, however corporations do not have the fifth amendment right. This is the way corporate personhood should be addressed, that they have a limited amount of the rights of people.

In the Google antitrust issue, I believe what Google did was wrong. That Google was limiting exposure to other websites that threaten their business model is morally wrong even if the legality of the issue is questionable. There is a difference, between the legality of the issue and the morality of the issue. Google should not be able to limit competitors or even steal from companies like they did from yelp. Despite having a good legal defense it was obviously morally wrong that google would essentially take yelp reviews and use them themselves to limit the number of people who visit yelp. I feel like even if the antitrust action at this point has been minor there could be major ramifications, like what happened with microsoft in the 90s. Just the action of antitrust threat could have major effects on Google. For these reasons I feel that the immoral actions of Google are being accurately responded to at the current time. However if things don’t change more action should be taken.

Corporations since they have many of the same rights as people should also have some moral and ethical obligations. Possibly not to the same degree, however there is some moral responsibility of the corporations. For example morally google should not skim other pages to limit people going to those pages, even if they claim it is for the betterment of the customer, it is an attempt to limit competition by limiting page hits to competitors who could offer similar services.

Reading07: Land of Connection

The internet of things could allow the entire world to be able to communicate with itself. The idea behind the internet of things is that everything we interact with in our day to day lives could possibly connected via networks. Every aspect of a house, from the climate control to the washing machine could be connected to the internet and allow a user different options. This would for example allow the user to see when the washing machine was done, set the climate control from our phone rather then having to go to a wall unit. This would ideally allow consumers to have better, more accurate and easier to use controls of their home and the systems inside their home. I think this could definitely benefit consumers allowing better connectivity of the different devices and machines we use in our everyday life. However, I understand the negatives of the Internet of Things. When every device is connected to the internet there are more potential points of failure and security vulnerabilities. Though computers have very advanced operating systems that actively try and fight malware and prevent being hacked into, many of the chips in the internet of things do not have these protections. As such there are a large number of faults in these designs. One of the articles, the one by Andy Greenberg, he describes how two researchers were able to hack into the Jeep Cherokee he was driving from a significant distance away over Sprint’s cellular network. This hack gave the researchers control of everything from the radio to the transmission and the brake pedal. This was extremely frightening to read. If there were faults of this level in machines that could potentially kill users, such as cars or medical devices, there is a very large risk inherent in the Internet of Things. I feel like the Internet of Things is a great concept that has not been properly protected yet, however, given how quickly the Internet of Things is being implemented, it should be a much bigger aspect of development then it is at present. Programmers should attempt to create random passwords to access the devices wirelessly, as the article by Porup suggests. This would create better security for devices and not allow there to be a website that can very easily access the feeds of baby monitors or the control systems of cars. I feel like most of the liability lies with a company when a hack occurs as they should not put out products that do not have adequate protection and if they do not already they should have both dedicated departments to protecting their IoT devices and third party testing. The effects of the IoT will be hard to predict though I believe it will allow for technology to become more personalized a well as society to move move towards specialized implementations of big market technology. With the IoT not only would we be able to better represent a person in their own home, but also speed up medical care, streamlining the process and potentially allowing for constant checks to make sure equipment is working properly. I feel like the government should try and ensure companies maintain a baseline of security on their devices, as well as limit what data is allowed to be collected from IoT devices. While a part of me is very excited for the possibility of the connectivity possibility of the IoT, however I am also afraid of how it could be exploited and mishandled. I feel we have to worry about both hackers as well as the companies themselves collecting information on us.

Reading 06: A Fistful of Secrets

Edward Snowden is both a hero and a traitor. While his actions in regard to informing the American people of possible constitutional infractions by the government in regards to individual privacy, his actions releasing United States Intelligence in regards to foreign powers makes him a traitor. When looking at the article from Newsweek, the author very obviously viewed Snowden as a traitor for his actions, however, I feel the author made an important distinction when he described the three effects of Snowden’s leak on the American people. There was the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. While it is a great Clint Eastwood movie, when the phrase is ascribed to real life situations it becomes obvious that there is often more bad that came about than good. Snowden considers himself, and all others who leak information to be heroes. What Snowden himself does not take into account but the Newsweek article references, is motivation. I feel like this is an important part of any discussion when considering Whistleblowers. Snowden for example is commonly viewed as having blown the whistle for the good of the American people, something Snowden seems to suggest himself in his forward to Inside the Assassination Complex. Newsweek, however, has another theory, based on what Snowden released and how he released the information it appears that the good of the American people was not his only motivation. As the article points out if Snowden had only been aiming for the good of the American People he would not have released information about the United States actions against their enemies or the processes they use to gather this information. He gathered and deleted so much information that it is likely the whistleblowing had a negative effect on United States intelligence agencies, which, if we have any faith whatsoever in the government would not be good for the common welfare of the American citizen. While he released information about gathering information on American servers and citizens, most of it was legally gathered information, even if the legality was questionable, he also released information about how the United States gathers information on foreign powers and terrorist powers. With all of this together, while he holds his actions were ethical, I do not believe that they were totally ethical. The negative effects of many of his more security compromising information may have long reaching negative effects. For this reason and the fact that he did in fact break many laws as well as his contract and clearance with the United States government, Snowden should be extradited and prosecuted for treason. At the very least this will allow him to defend himself and his actions in a legal battle. At this point we are not very far removed from Snowden’s initial leak and as such I feel it is hard to determine the far reaching effects of his actions. On an individual level I feel there is more distrust of the government than their was in the past, influential people such as Mark Zuckerberg are telling the citizenry to cover the web cameras of their computers, in order to stop spying. Personally I am very conflicted about the information, because while I feel the government may have gone to far, certain actions are needed to keep up with the ever evolving field of technological advancement.