With the recent FCC ruling on elements of Net Neutrality, the dog days of summer are witnesses to yet another chapter unfolding in this ongoing debate. Proponents of both sides will end up dissecting the FCC’s final decision line by line, deciding whether this applies to the debate writ large, or is limited to this specific instance. But out on the horizon, storm clouds are forming around a topic that will undoubtedly overshadow the current NN debate. The topic -- privacy. It’s risky making these types of predictions in such a public way -it’s always there for comparison -- but in this case, a straightforward reason exists in forecast this upcoming squall. Simplicity. People get it, politicians of all stripes understand it, and the mainstream media can wrap their heads around it. Whereas the debate on NN is focused on technology and its different permeations necessary to actively manage rapidly expanding networks, the technology side of privacy is quickly negated when viewed through the lens of falsification or theft of one’s own personal information.It’s far from being a new debate but with a spat of recent high-profile data breaches, the general public has rightful expressed concern. Of course with increased concern, legislators could be compelled into refreshing or creating new privacy measures to allay fears over a perceived lack of protection. What needs to be done? Principally, we need to avoid overreaction. Too often, in our haste to plug holes we rush in and unleash a whole host of unintended consequences. Secondly, we need to continually press business to recognize the importance of privacy and the necessity of implementing measures to protect it. And finally, persist with the ongoing education of consumers and how they can manage and protect their privacy. Naturally, some privacy advocates will claim that the measures above glaze over the whole issue of collecting information based on individual’s internet habits. While it is incumbent upon business and government to provide consumers with meaningful and easy accessible information on what’s being collected, unless it’s being used for duplicitous reasons, there are legitimate reasons for doing so. Records are a necessity for doing business; create an ability to provide increased customer satisfaction levels, and even create worlds of experiences and opportunities that might otherwise remain unexposed or uncreated. It will be healthy to have this debate over the possibilities and potential concerns of privacy, albeit without fear mongering. Openness to what the possibilities can entail, will continue to aid the net’s evolution. On the bright side -and at risk of being flamed for saying so -- with legislative and regulatory officials turning their focus towards privacy, the whole NN debate might finally be recognized for what it truly is. A non-issue which will eventually be recognized as a mere snap shot in time of the net’s evolution.
The debate about next generation access networks in the UK continues to develop apace. This week, the Broadband Stakeholders Group held a conference on next generation access called ‘Beyond Pipe Dreams’.Two interesting new reports were published at the conference which are relevant for considerations of investment in new access networks more generally.The first report looks at how we can evaluate the economic and social value of a next generation network. While the second report looks at models for public sector intervention in next generation broadband.The discussion at the conference placed as much emphasis on the potential quality of next generation broadband packages as on their raw speed. Characteristics such as symmetry, low latency, predictability etc. were seen to be essential for developing innovative services which could be delivered over broadband. This is an interesting evolution of the debate taking us beyond the simpler numerical modelling of bandwidth requirements that has done before to try and define the demand for better access networks.
It’s no secret that intellectual property is the capital upon which digital age companies build their business. If you look at the Fortune 500, the value of IP for its largest companies ranges between 45% -- 75% and also represents the highest growth area in the global economy.For many companies, the value of IP breaks down to protecting their return on investment while continuing to grow and innovate. It’s an acceptable ROI that enables growth and continued funding of continued innovation. Read More »
When I started to write this week’s blog on Monday’s afternoon, I was very optimistic to see Congress finally voting an agreement that has been pending since 2006 and that should pass on its merits because of the economic and national security benefits for both Colombia and the U.S.The significance of this agreement goes beyond the traditional benefits of free trade. This is also an agreement to back the closest U.S. ally in the hemisphere and a statement of support for democracy in the region.After being very close to collapse ten years ago, something that as a Colombian/American I had an opportunity to witness first hand, Colombia has transformed to an increasingly prosperous and peaceful democracy. The FTA will help Colombia to continue its path to peace and prosperity, by strengthening its economy, while at the same time -according to the U.S. International Trade Commission- will allow U.S. to increase its exports to Colombia by 1.1 billion, benefiting 9,000 American businesses of which 8,000 are small businesses.Unfortunately, my optimism from earlier this week did not last long. On Thursday, it was clear that the vote would not move forward, leaving the agreement indefinitely postponed.What is at stake?The consequences of the recent developments go well beyond the Colombia FTA. The U.S. credibility in negotiating and implementing trade agreements and the competitiveness of the U.S. industry are at risk.Colombia, as well as many countries in the world are opening markets to reap the benefits of international trade. These countries will sign trade agreements with major Asian countries that have industries that compete directly with U.S. industry in every single line of the economy. -As other countries’ FTAs move forward, U.S. industry will be at disadvantage. Foreign companies would have significant price advantages because of the lower tariff and non-tariff barriers they would enjoy. Furthermore, the increased employment that could have been created in the U.S. as a result of trade would not be realized.There is no doubt that among certain groups trade is a complex and sensitive issue, in particular in an election year. However, the stakes are too high to let short-term policy interests interfere with the future of our economy and the hemisphere.
LONDON, UK -- A substantial report called ‘Safer Children in a Digital World’ was published today by the Byron Review which set up by the British Government last autumn. The report looks at child safety in respect of video games and their use of the internet.The report contains a number of recommendations for the technology industry to consider. The overall tone is very constructive and practical. It makes it clear that there are no simple regulatory solutions but that the best outcomes will be achieved where there are partnerships between government, industry and parents working together. It points out that there is no such thing as a risk-free environment so we must also help children to gain the resilience they will need to deal with problems when they occur.When commenting on the report, its author, Dr Tanya Byron, has been complimentary about the internet industry’s willingness to engage with her on these sensitive issues, and of the partnership work that is already taking place. As well as UK specific initiatives, there are some good global examples of industry supporting child safety such as the Family Online Safety Institute.