Urs Gasser

Professor of Practice

Executive Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

Biography

Urs Gasser is the Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School. He serves as a trustee on the board of the NEXA Center for Internet & Society at the University of Torino and on the board of the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen, and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin. He is a Fellow at the Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research.

Dr. Gasser has written and edited several books, and published over 100 articles in professional journals. He is the co-author of “Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives” (Basic Books, 2008 and 2016, with John Palfrey) that has been translated into 10 languages (including Chinese), and co-author of “Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems” (Basic Books, 2012, with John Palfrey).

Urs Gasser's research and teaching activities focus on information law, policy, and society issues and the changing role of academia in the digitally networked age. Current projects – several involving the Global Network of Internet & Society Centers, which he helped to incubate – focus on the governance of evolving and emerging technologies such as Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence, with a particular interest in privacy and security issues and the broader implications of these technologies, including questions of agency and autonomy. As a longer term research interest, he studies the patterns of interaction between law and innovation, and innovation with the legal system in the digital age.

Dr. Gasser frequently acts as a commentator on comparative law issues for the US and European media.

Areas of Interest

John G. Palfrey & Urs Gasser, Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age (Basic Books rev. ed. 2016).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Book
Abstract
The first generation of children who were born into and raised in the digital world are coming of age and reshaping the world in their image. Our economy, our politics, our culture, and even the shape of our family life are being transformed. But who are these wired young people? And what is the world they’re creating going to look like? In this revised and updated edition, leading Internet and technology experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser offer a cutting-edge sociological portrait of these young people, who can seem, even to those merely a generation older, both extraordinarily sophisticated and strangely narrow. Exploring a broad range of issues—privacy concerns, the psychological effects of information overload, and larger ethical issues raised by the fact that young people’s social interactions, friendships, and civic activities are now mediated by digital technologies—Born Digital is essential reading for parents, teachers, and the myriad of confused adults who want to understand the digital present and shape the digital future.
Urs Gasser, Recoding Privacy Law: Reflections on the Future Relationship Among Law, Technology, and Privacy, 130 Harv. L. Rev. F. 61 (2016).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
John G. Palfrey & Urs Gasser, Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems (Basic Books 2012).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
Type: Book
Abstract
In Interop, technology experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser explore the immense importance of interoperability—the standardization and integration of technology—and show how this simple principle will hold the key to our success in the coming decades and beyond. The practice of standardization has been facilitating innovation and economic growth for centuries. The standardization of the railroad gauge revolutionized the flow of commodities, the standardization of money revolutionized debt markets and simplified trade, and the standardization of credit networks has allowed for the purchase of goods using money deposited in a bank half a world away. These advancements did not eradicate the different systems they affected; instead, each system has been transformed so that it can interoperate with systems all over the world, while still preserving local diversity. As Palfrey and Gasser show, interoperability is a critical aspect of any successful system—and now it is more important than ever. Today we are confronted with challenges that affect us on a global scale: the financial crisis, the quest for sustainable energy, and the need to reform health care systems and improve global disaster response systems. The successful flow of information across systems is crucial if we are to solve these problems, but we must also learn to manage the vast degree of interconnection inherent in each system involved. Interoperability offers a number of solutions to these global challenges, but Palfrey and Gasser also consider its potential negative effects, especially with respect to privacy, security, and co-dependence of states; indeed, interoperability has already sparked debates about document data formats, digital music, and how to create successful yet safe cloud computing. Interop demonstrates that, in order to get the most out of interoperability while minimizing its risks, we will need to fundamentally revisit our understanding of how it works, and how it can allow for improvements in each of its constituent parts. In Interop, Palfrey and Gasser argue that there needs to be a nuanced, stable theory of interoperability—one that still generates efficiencies, but which also ensures a sustainable mode of interconnection. Pointing the way forward for the new information economy, Interop provides valuable insights into how technological integration and innovation can flourish in the twenty-first century.
Dennis Redeker, Lex Gill & Urs Gasser, Towards Digital Constitutionalism? Mapping Attempts to Craft an Internet Bill of Rights, 80 Int'l Comm. Gazette, 302 (2018).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Politics & Political Theory
,
European Law
,
International Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
The article develops digital constitutionalism as a common term connecting a constellation of initiatives that seek to articulate a set of political rights, governance norms, and limitations on the exercise of power on the Internet. We start by reporting on insights from an analysis of the substantive content of over 30 such documents, and make reference to the political and technological changes to which they may relate. We offer an overview of the core actors in the area of digital constitutionalism and a brief exploration of the processes by which their initiatives aim to entrench rights into law and practice. We discuss the changing sites of political and legal intervention, including a more recent focus on domestic and regional initiatives. Finally, we consider what a future research agenda could entail.
Micah Altman, Alexandra Wood, David R. O’Brien & Urs Gasser, Practical Approaches to Big Data Privacy Over Time, 8 Int'l Data Privacy L. 29 (2018).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
Abstract
Governments and businesses are increasingly collecting, analysing, and sharing detailed information about individuals over long periods of time. Vast quantities of data from new sources and novel methods for large-scale data analysis promise to yield deeper understanding of human characteristics, behaviour, and relationships and advance the state of science, public policy, and innovation. The collection and use of fine-grained personal data over time, at the same time, is associated with significant risks to individuals, groups, and society at large. This article examines a range of long-term research studies in order to identify the characteristics that drive their unique sets of risks and benefits and the practices established to protect research data subjects from long-term privacy risks. We find that many big data activities in government and industry settings have characteristics and risks similar to those of long-term research studies, but are subject to less oversight and control. We argue that the risks posed by big data over time can best be understood as a function of temporal factors comprising age, period, and frequency and non-temporal factors such as population diversity, sample size, dimensionality, and intended analytic use. Increasing complexity in any of these factors, individually or in combination, creates heightened risks that are not readily addressable through traditional de-identification and process controls. We provide practical recommendations for big data privacy controls based on the risk factors present in a specific case and informed by recent insights from the state of the art and practice.
Ryan Budish, Herbert Burkert & Urs Gasser, Encryption Policy and its International Impacts: A Framework for Understanding Extraterritorial Ripple Effects (Hoover Inst. Essay, Aegis Series Paper No. 1804, Mar. 2, 2018).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Comparative Law
,
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Other
Abstract
This paper explores the potential international ripple effects that can occur following changes to domestic encryption policies. Whether these changes take the form of a single coherent national policy or a collection of independent (or even conflicting) policies, the impacts can be unexpected and wide-ranging. This paper offers a conceptual model for how the ripple effects from national encryption policies might propagate beyond national borders. And we provide a set of factors that can help policy-makers anticipate some of the most likely ripple effects of proposed encryption policies.
Big Data, Health Law, and Bioethics (I. Glenn Cohen, Holly Fernandez Lynch, Effy Vayena & Urs Gasser eds., 2018).
Categories:
Health Care
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Bioethics
,
Health Law & Policy
,
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Medical Technology
Type: Book
Abstract
When data from all aspects of our lives can be relevant to our health - from our habits at the grocery store and our Google searches to our FitBit data and our medical records - can we really differentiate between big data and health big data? Will health big data be used for good, such as to improve drug safety, or ill, as in insurance discrimination? Will it disrupt health care (and the health care system) as we know it? Will it be possible to protect our health privacy? What barriers will there be to collecting and utilizing health big data? What role should law play, and what ethical concerns may arise? This timely, groundbreaking volume explores these questions and more from a variety of perspectives, examining how law promotes or discourages the use of big data in the health care sphere, and also what we can learn from other sectors.
Urs Gasser & Virgilio A.F. Almeida, A Layered Model for AI Governance, IEEE Internet Computing, Nov. 20, 2017, at 58.
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
,
Science & Technology
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
Abstract
AI-based systems are "black boxes," resulting in massive information asymmetries between the developers of such systems and consumers and policymakers. In order to bridge this information gap, this article proposes a conceptual framework for thinking about governance for AI.
David O’Brien, Ryan Budish, Robert Faris, Urs Gasser & Tiffany Lin, Privacy and Cybersecurity Research Briefing (Berkman Klein Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2016-17, Sept. 26, 2016).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Other
Abstract
Cybersecurity has evolved into a pressing issue that sits at the top of government policy and board room agendas as the prevalence and severity of incidents continue to increase. As we search for solutions, public and private sector actors must balance the numerous tensions inherent in securing products and services, keeping users safe, and maintaining a vibrant and innovative ecosystem that supports the continued development of new products. This research briefing aims to translate findings from ongoing Berkman Klein Center privacy and cybersecurity research and activities into practical considerations and takeaways for key stakeholders and decision-makers. It offers a snapshot of the cybersecurity ecosystem and the forces shaping it, a map of high-level overview of several current approaches aimed at addressing cybersecurity challenges, and identifies opportunities for collaborative approaches that will help prepare decision-makers to address the next generation of pressing cybersecurity issues.
Urs Gasser & Sandra Cortesi, Children’s Rights and Digital Technologies: Introduction to the Discourse and Some Meta-Observations, in Handbook of Children’s Rights: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives (M. Ruck, M. Peterson-Badali & M. Freeman eds., 2016).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Children's Law & Welfare
,
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Book
Abstract
This volume constitutes a comprehensive treatment of critical perspectives concerning children s rights in their various forms.
Micah Altman, Alexandra Wood, David O’Brien, Salil Vadhan & Urs Gasser, Towards a Modern Approach to Privacy-Aware Government Data Releases, 30 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 1967 (2016).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Government Transparency
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
Abstract
Governments are under increasing pressure to publicly release collected data in order to promote transparency, accountability, and innovation. Because much of the data they release pertains to individuals, agencies rely on various standards and interventions to protect privacy interests while supporting a range of beneficial uses of the data. However, there are growing concerns among privacy scholars, policymakers, and the public that these approaches are incomplete, inconsistent, and difficult to navigate. To identify gaps in current practice, this Article reviews data released in response to freedom of information and Privacy Act requests, traditional public and vital records, official statistics, and e-government and open government initiatives. It finds that agencies lack formal guidance for implementing privacy interventions in specific cases. Most agencies address privacy by withholding or redacting records that contain directly or indirectly identifying information based on an ad hoc balancing of interests, and different government actors sometimes treat similar privacy risks vastly differently. These observations demonstrate the need for a more systematic approach to privacy analysis and also suggest a new way forward. In response to these concerns, this Article proposes a framework for a modern privacy analysis informed by recent advances in data privacy from disciplines such as computer science, statistics, and law. Modeled on an information security approach, this framework characterizes and distinguishes between privacy controls, threats, vulnerabilities, and utility. When developing a data release mechanism, policymakers should specify the desired data uses and expected benefits, examine each stage of the data lifecycle to identify privacy threats and vulnerabilities, and select controls for each lifecycle stage that are consistent with the uses, threats, and vulnerabilities at that stage. This Article sketches the contours of this analytical framework, populates selected portions of its contents, and illustrates how it can inform the selection of privacy controls by discussing its application to two real-world examples of government data releases.
Effy Vayena & Urs Gasser, Between Openness and Privacy in Genomics, 13 PLoS Med. e1001937 (2016).
Categories:
Health Care
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Health Law & Policy
,
Bioethics
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
Abstract
Advancing genomic research depends on the accessing and sharing of genomic data. However, the increasing need for sharing escalates the tension between genomic privacy and openness. Promoting openness while protecting privacy is a challenge that cannot be overcome only with technical solutions such as encryption and differential privacy. Although such solutions are crucial, we still need to confront some fundamental normative tensions that are intensified in the era of genomics and big data. Here are at least three: The right to genomic privacy is not an absolute right. If privacy is understood as control over information or data, privacy is not about maximal levels of control, but rather about reasonable measures of control. Although individual control is necessary, it is not a sufficient safeguard of privacy. Individuals’ willingness to be open about their data does not obviate responsibility for reducing privacy risks on the part of the data users. Data governance models, such as data cooperatives, that enable meaningful and continuous roles of the individuals whose data are at stake hold promise for reconciling privacy and openness.
Effy Vayena, Urs Gasser, Alexandra Wood, David R. O’Brien & Micah Altman, Elements of a New Ethical Framework for Big Data Research, 72 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. Online 420 (2016).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Digital Property
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
Abstract
Emerging large-scale data sources hold tremendous potential for new scientific research into human biology, behaviors, and relationships. At the same time, big data research presents privacy and ethical challenges that the current regulatory framework is ill-suited to address. In light of the immense value of large-scale research data, the central question moving forward is not whether such data should be made available for research, but rather how the benefits can be captured in a way that respects fundamental principles of ethics and privacy. In response, this Essay outlines elements of a new ethical framework for big data research. It argues that oversight should aim to provide universal coverage of human subjects research, regardless of funding source, across all stages of the information lifecycle. New definitions and standards should be developed based on a modern understanding of privacy science and the expectations of research subjects. In addition, researchers and review boards should be encouraged to incorporate systematic risk-benefit assessments and new procedural and technological solutions from the wide range of interventions that are available. Finally, oversight mechanisms and the safeguards implemented should be tailored to the intended uses, benefits, threats, harms, and vulnerabilities associated with a specific research activity. Development of a new ethical framework with these elements should be the product of a dynamic multistakeholder process that is designed to capture the latest scientific understanding of privacy, analytical methods, available safeguards, community and social norms, and best practices for research ethics as they evolve over time. Such a framework would support big data utilization and help harness the value of big data in a sustainable and trust-building manner.
Lex Gill, Dennis Redeker & Urs Gasser, Towards Digital Constitutionalism? Mapping Attempts to Craft an Internet Bill of Rights (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-15, Nov. 9, 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Cyberlaw
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Abstract
The idea of an “Internet Bill of Rights” is by no means a new one: in fact, serious efforts to draft such a document can be traced at least as far back as the mid-1990s. Though the form, function and scope of such initiatives has evolved, the concept has had remarkable staying power, and now — two full decades later — principles which were once radically aspirational have begun to crystallize into law. In this paper, we propose a unified term to describe these efforts using the umbrella of “digital constitutionalism” and conduct an analysis of thirty initiatives spanning from 1999 to 2015. These initiatives have great differences, and range from advocacy statements to official positions of intergovernmental organizations to proposed legislation. However, in their own way, they are each engaged in the same conversation, seeking to advance a relatively comprehensive set of rights, principles, and governance norms for the Internet, and are usefully understood as part of a broader proto-constitutional discourse. While this paper does not attempt to capture every facet of this complex political behavior, we hope to offer a preliminary map of the landscape, provide a comparative examination of these diverse efforts toward digital constitutionalism, and — most importantly — provoke new questions for further research and study. The paper proceeds in four parts, beginning with a preliminary definition for the concept of digital constitutionalism and a summary of our research methodology. Second, we present our core observations related to the full range of substantive rights, principles and themes proposed by these initiatives. Third, we build on that analysis to explore their perceived targets, the key actors and deliberative processes which have informed their character, and the changes in their substantive content over time. Finally, we look forward, identifying future directions for research in this rapidly changing policy arena and for the broader Internet governance community.
Ryan Budish, Sarah Myers West & Urs Gasser, Designing Successful Governance Groups: Lessons for Leaders from Real-World Examples (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-11, Aug. 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Cyberlaw
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Abstract
In January 2015, the Global Network of Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC) published the results of a globally coordinated, independent academic research project exploring multistakeholder governance models. Facilitated by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the work evaluated a wide range of governance groups with the goal of contributing meaningfully to the current debate around the future of the Internet governance ecosystem. The report, entitled Multistakeholder as Governance Groups: Observations From Case Studies, included twelve case studies of real-world governance structures from around the world and from both inside and outside the sphere of Internet governance. The report also included a synthesis paper, which drew from the case studies lessons that challenged conventional thinking with respect to the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups. Through its work, the Network of Centers hopes to demonstrate new strategies and approaches for academia regarding its roles in research, facilitation and convening, and education in and communication about the Internet age. This ambition includes creating outputs that are useful, actionable, and timely for policymakers and stakeholders. In that spirit, this document is intended to help translate our original report into a form useful for those creating, convening, or leading governance groups. It is our goal that this document can provide an operational starting place for those who wish to learn more about some of the components critical to the success of a governance group. The original report goes into far greater depth on both the details of the case studies and the lessons learned from them, whereas this document highlights only a few of the points most relevant for operationalizing the findings of the full report. The full report is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2549270.
Urs Gasser, Interoperability in the Digital Ecosystem (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-13, July 6, 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
At its most fundamental level in the context of the digital ecosystem, interoperability (or “interop”) is the ability to transfer and render useful data and other information across systems, applications, or components. As a concept interop is central, and yet often invisible, to many parts of a highly interconnected modern society. The fact that someone can make a seamless international telephone call without thinking about things like “signaling standards” or transoceanic cables is a tribute to interop. So is the fact that someone can send and receive the same e-mail on a phone or in a browser, regardless of device manufacturer or ISP. And the development of the Internet of Things relies on interop. For that reason it is critical to develop a shared understanding how interop functions, the potential costs and benefits of increased levels of interop, and the variety of approaches for encouraging interop. This paper begins by offering a framework for understanding interop as a concept. An overview diagram of the benefits, potential risks and approaches to interop includes four quadrants: What? (technological, data, human, and institutional); Benefits (innovation, competition, autonomy, flexibility, and choice, and access, diversity, and openness); Potential Risks (increased security and privacy risks, increased homogeneity, decreased reliability, accountability and accessibility, and threats to business models); and Approaches (non-regulatory and regulatory). In theoretical terms, interoperability functions across four broad layers of complex systems: technological, data, human, institutional. For many people, it is the exchange of data through technological means that comes to mind when they think about interop. But it turns out that the human and institutional aspects of interoperability are often just as – and sometimes even more – important than the technological aspects. This paper next offers examples of some of the many benefits and drawbacks of higher levels of interop. On the benefits side this includes: innovation, competition, choice and access. While, the potential drawbacks include: security and privacy risks, an increase in homogeneity, a decrease in reliability, accountability, accessibility, and a threat to certain existing business models. The paper then offers a taxonomy for considering the various approaches that exist within the toolbox for managing and optimizing the level of interop. These approaches can either be deployed in a more unilateral fashion or they can be deployed in more collaborative ways. Moreover, there are approaches that can be deployed by the private sector and those that are utilized by regulators and other state actors. The paper also considers in more depth the unique role that governments and regulators can play in shaping the interop landscape. Finally, the paper concludes by identifying some of the biggest questions and challenges that confront future interoperable technologies.
Urs Gasser & Jens Drolshammer, The Brave New World of (Swiss) Law: Contours of a Framework and Call for a Strategy to Shape Law’s Digital Revolution (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-8, May 5, 2015).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Foreign Law
,
Networked Society
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Abstract
The emergence of computer networks in tandem with digitization — the rise of digital communication — has had a fundamental impact on the world we live in. Over the past few years, we have witnessed how digital communication has shaped how we communicate with each other, build and maintain friendships, work together, and engage in our communities and society. But digital technology not only affects our lives as individuals; it also has system level impact. The deep transformations in the economic system — consider the tectonic shifts in the entertainment or publishing industries, and more recently the advent of the so-called industrial Internet — are well-documented and demonstrate the disruptive potential of digital communication. However, many other systems are also deeply affected by digital technology: whether culture and arts, health care, transportation, or energy, virtually all sectors of society are currently undergoing changes fueled by digital communication. In some areas, the impact and the implications of digital communication are well studied and understood; in other systems, the effects have only become visible more recently and the transformation processes are still unfolding. In this essay, we look at one such system where the impact of digital communication — despite a long research history dating back to the 1950s — is still unfolding and is perhaps underestimated, particularly among policy- and decision-makers: the impact of digital communication on the legal system as an information processing system. We argue that a growing body of evidence suggests that law is profoundly affected by the digital revolution, at various levels and with manifold implications not only for the legal profession, but society at large. Given these deep transformation processes, we call for a pro-active, systematic, and strategic approach when dealing with these transformation processes in order to address associated challenges and manage risks, but perhaps most importantly, also to make use of the tremendous opportunities digital communication offers for the law and, more broadly, social justice. This essay is divided into three parts. In the first part, based on general patterns of change in the information ecosystem, we identify four areas with examples of structural transformations enabled by digital communication: the creation of law, the dissemination of law, access to law, and the use of law. For each category, we highlight recent manifestations and developments—mostly (but not exclusive) from the US — with the goal of illustrating the types of shifts we anticipate. In the second part of the essay, we argue that there is a need to map and evaluate the different moving elements identified in the first part more systematically. Towards this end, we develop an analytical framework on which the various moving elements discussed in the first section of the essay can be mapped, analyzed, and evaluated. Such a framework is an intermediate step when working towards a strategy dealing with the law’s digital revolution. Consequently, the third part builds upon this analytical framework and sketches the contours of a strategy for Swiss Law, which consists of a methodological and a substantive component. Methodologically, we call for a new strategic literacy enabling the analysis and management of the relationship between law, digital communication, and society in the digital age. The second component — again in form of a sketch — identifies a series of opportunities and possible next steps in the Swiss context.
David R. O’Brien, Jonathan Ullman, Micah Altman, Urs Gasser, Michael Bar-Sinai, Kobbi Nissim, Salil Vadhan, Michael John Wojcik & Alexandra Wood, Integrating Approaches to Privacy Across the Research Lifecycle: When Is Information Purely Public? (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-7, Mar. 29, 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Other
Abstract
On September 24-25, 2013, the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project at Harvard University held a workshop titled "Integrating Approaches to Privacy across the Research Data Lifecycle." Over forty leading experts in computer science, statistics, law, policy, and social science research convened to discuss the state of the art in data privacy research. The resulting conversations centered on the emerging tools and approaches from the participants’ various disciplines and how they should be integrated in the context of real-world use cases that involve the management of confidential research data. Researchers are increasingly obtaining data from social networking websites, publicly-placed sensors, government records and other public sources. Much of this information appears public, at least to first impressions, and it is capable of being used in research for a wide variety of purposes with seemingly minimal legal restrictions. The insights about human behaviors we may gain from research that uses this data are promising. However, members of the research community are questioning the ethics of these practices, and at the heart of the matter are some difficult questions about the boundaries between public and private information. This workshop report, the second in a series, identifies selected questions and explores issues around the meaning of “public” in the context of using data about individuals for research purposes.
Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media (Sandra Cortesi & Urs Gasser eds., Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-6, Mar. 26, 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Children's Law & Welfare
,
Communications Law
,
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Other
Abstract
Reflecting on the 25th anniversaries of the invention of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the adoption of the Convention on Rights of the Child by the US General Assembly, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and UNICEF co-hosted in April 2014 — in collaboration with PEW Internet, EU Kids Online, the Internet Society (ISOC), Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), and YouthPolicy.org — a first of its kind international symposium on children, youth, and digital media to map and explore the global state of relevant research and practice, share and discuss insights and ideas from the developing and industrialized world, and encourage collaboration between participants across regions and continents. With a particular focus on voices and issues from the Global South, the symposium addressed topics such as inequitable access, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, and spaces for participation, and civic engagement and innovation. The event also marked the launch of Digitally Connected — an initiative that brings together academics, practitioners, young people, activists, philanthropists, government officials, and representatives of technology companies from around the world who, together, are addressing the challenges and opportunities children and youth encounter in the digital environment. More information about the network (as well as the launch symposium) is available. This book is one contribution by this growing, global network of collaborators and consists of two parts. The first part brings together a series of reflection pieces in form of short essays written by friends and colleagues who attended the Digitally Connected symposium at Harvard University. The second part consists of a collection of stories, art, and digital media by youth about their experiences online. These creative pieces were submitted through an open call, which consisted of 10 prompts youth could reflect upon. The contributions in this book reflect the diversity of ideas and perspectives that form the core and spirit of Digitally Connected. Some of the reflection pieces are closely connected to issues discussed at the symposium, others reflect more generally on personal observations and/or opinions, or highlight and discuss insights and learnings from specific studies or concrete projects. By making these reflection pieces and the youth work available to the expanding Digitally Connected network as well as the public at large, we hope to continue and further stimulate the global conversation about both the challenges and opportunities children and youth encounter in the digital environment.
Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, Sarah Genner, Erhardt Graeff, Paulina Haduong, Reynol Junco, Luis Felipe R. Murillo, Dalia Othman, Geanned Perlman Rosenberg, Emily Robinson, Mayte Schomburg, Brittany Seymour, Hasit Shah & Sara M. Watson, Youth and Online News: Reflections and Perspectives (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-3, Feb. 17, 2015).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Children's Law & Welfare
,
Communications Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This publication includes a series of short essays that offer interesting, alternative, exciting, sobering, unusual, out-of-the box perspectives, observations, or reflections at the intersection of news, digital media, and youth - broadly defined. The contributions in this publication reflect the diversity of ideas and perspectives that form the core and spirit of the Berkman community. Some of the essays are closely connected to specific research and publications conducted by the Youth and Media team (www.youthandmedia.org) at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, others reflect more generally on personal observations and/or opinions, or highlight and discuss insights and learnings from other studies or concrete projects.
Urs Gasser, Ryan Budish & Sarah Myers West, Multistakeholder as Governance Groups: Observations from Case Studies (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2015-1, Jan. 14, 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Cyberlaw
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Abstract
This paper synthesizes a set of twelve case studies of real-world governance structures. Together with the underlying case studies, it is the result of a globally coordinated, independent academic research pilot project by the Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC). Facilitated by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, this study examines existing multistakeholder governance groups with the goal of informing the evolution of — and current debate around — the future evolution of the Internet governance ecosystem in light of the NETmundial Principles and Roadmap, discussions at the Internet Governance Forum, and the NETmundial Initiative, as well as other forums, panels, and committees. Internet governance is an increasingly complex concept that operates at multiple levels and in different dimensions, making it necessary to have a better understanding of both how multistakeholder governance groups operate and how they best achieve their goals. With this need in mind, at a point where the future of Internet governance is being re-envisioned, this project aims to deepen our understanding of the formation, operation, and critical success factors of governance groups (and even challenge conventional thinking) by studying a geographically diverse set of local, national, and international governance models, components, and mechanisms from within and outside of the sphere of Internet governance, with a focus on lessons learned. The research effort is grounded in a diversity of global perspectives and collaborative research techniques. Adhering to objective and independent academic standards, it aspires to be useful, actionable, and timely for policymakers and stakeholders. More broadly, the Network of Centers seeks to contribute to a more generalized vision and longer-term strategy for academia regarding its roles in research, facilitation and convening, and education in and communication about the Internet age.
Sandra Cortesi & Urs Gasser, Youth Online and News: A Phenomenological View on Diversity, 9 Int’l J. Comm. 1932 (2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Urs Gasser & Wolfgang Schulz, Governance of Online Intermediaries: Observations From a Series of National Case Studies, 18 Korea U. L. Rev. 79 (2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Comparative Law
,
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Article
Abstract
Online intermediaries in various forms – including search engines, social media, or app platforms – play a constitutive role in today’s digital environment. They have become a new type of powerful institution in the 21st century that shape the public networked sphere, and are subject to intense and often controversial policy debates. This paper focuses on one particular force shaping the emergence and future evolution of online intermediaries: the rapidly changing landscape of intermediary governance at the intersection of law, technology, norms, and markets. Building upon eight in-depth case studies and use cases, respectively, this paper seeks to distill key observations and provide a high-level analysis of some of the structural elements that characterize varying governance regimes, with a focus on intermediary liability regimes and their evolution. Analyzing online intermediary governance issues from multiple perspectives, and in the context of different cultures and regulatory frameworks, immediately creates basic problems of semantic interoperability. Lacking a universally agreed-upon definition, the synthesis paper and its’ underlying case studies are based on a broad and phenomenon-oriented notion of online intermediaries, as further described below. In methodological terms, the observations shared in the synthesis paper offer a selective reading and interpretation by the authors of the broader take-ways of a diverse set of case studies examining online intermediary governance frameworks and issues in Brazil, the European Union, India, South Korea, the United States, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. These case studies, in turn, have emerged in the context of an international research pilot by the Global Network of Internet & Society Research Centers (NoC), through a process of in-person consultations and remote collaborations among the researchers, and are based on a set of broader questions regarding the role of online intermediaries in the digital age.
Urs Gasser, Perspectives on the Future of Digital Privacy, Zeitschrift für Schweizerisches Recht (ZSR) II 337 (2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Sandra Cortesi & Urs Gasser, Public Service Media | Youth Online and News: A Phenomenological View, 9 Int’l J. Comm. 1425 (2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Children's Law & Welfare
,
Communications Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
As the amount of information consumed daily by young Internet users increases, researchers and policymakers have begun challenging conventional understandings of diversity exposure. Drawing upon findings from two mixed-method studies conducted in 2011 and 2013 by the Youth and Media project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, this article argues that a phenomenological approach to diversity that takes into account a broad range of developments in the digitally networked environment, including behavioral trends related to seeking, sharing, and creating information, might be a helpful starting point for discussing both the problems and solutions related to different facets of the diversity concept. Following the case study on youth interaction with online news, this article analyzes a spectrum of transformations: changing definitions of news, changes in news reading (such as new forms of participation, changing access modalities, and new types of gatekeepers), developments in social media practices, and emerging genres (such as memes). Throughout, this article discusses some of the conceptual challenges that emerge when applying current diversity frameworks to a real-world scenario and highlights complex behavioral patterns that should be taken into account before considering any interventions aimed at increasing diversity.
Urs Gasser, Jonathan Zittrain, Robert Faris & Rebekah Heacock Jones, Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World: Platforms, Policy, Privacy, and Public Discourse (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2014-17, Dec. 17, 2014).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This publication is the second annual report of the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Centerfor Internet & Society at Harvard University. As with the inaugural report, this year’s edition is a collaborative effort of the extended Berkman community. Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World includes nearly three dozen contributions from friends and colleagues around the world that highlight and discuss some of the most compelling events and trends in the digitally networked environment over the past year. The result, intended for a general interest audience, brings together reflection and analysis on a broad range of issues and regions — from an examination of Europe’s “right to be forgotten” to a review of the current state of mobile security to an exploration of a new wave of movements attempting to counter hate speech online — and offers it up for debate and discussion. Our goal remains not to provide a definitive assessment of the “state of the Internet” but rather to provide a rich compendium of commentary on the year’s developments with respect to the online space. Last year’s report examined the dynamics of Internet controls and online activity through the actions of government, corporations, and civil society. We focus this year on the interplay between technological platforms and policy; growing tensions between protecting personal privacy and using big data for social good; the implications of digital communications tools for public discourse and collective action; and current debates around the future of Internet governance. The report reflects the diversity of ideas and input the Internet Monitor project seeks to invite. Some of the contributions are descriptive; others prescriptive. Some contain purely factual observations; others offer personal opinion. In addition to those in traditional essay format, contributions this year include a speculative fiction story exploring what our increasingly data-driven world might bring, a selection of “visual thinking” illustrations that accompany a number of essays, a “Year in Review” timeline that highlights many of the year’s most fascinating Internet-related news stories (and an interactive version of which is available at the netmonitor.org), and a slightly tongue-in-cheek “By the Numbers” section that offers a look at the year’s important digital statistics. We believe that each contribution offers insights, and hope they provoke further reflection, conversation, and debate in both offline and online settings around the globe.
Alexandra Wood, David O’Brien, Micah Altman, Alan Karr, Urs Gasser, Michael Bar-Sinai, Kobbi Nissim, Jonathan Ullman, Salil Vadhan & Michael Wojcik, Integrating Approaches to Privacy Across the Research Lifecycle: Long-Term Longitudinal Studies (Berkman Klein Ctr. Res. Publ’n No. 2014-12, July 22, 2014).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Other
Abstract
On September 24-25, 2013, the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project at Harvard University held a workshop titled "Integrating Approaches to Privacy across the Research Data Lifecycle." Over forty leading experts in computer science, statistics, law, policy, and social science research convened to discuss the state of the art in data privacy research. The resulting conversations centered on the emerging tools and approaches from the participants’ various disciplines and how they should be integrated in the context of real-world use cases that involve the management of confidential research data. This workshop report, the first in a series, provides an overview of the long-term longitudinal study use case. Long-term longitudinal studies collect, at multiple points over a long period of time, highly-specific and often sensitive data describing the health, socioeconomic, or behavioral characteristics of human subjects. The value of such studies lies in part in their ability to link a set of behaviors and changes to each individual, but these factors tend to make the combination of observable characteristics associated with each subject unique and potentially identifiable. Using the research information lifecycle as a framework, this report discusses the defining features of long-term longitudinal studies and the associated challenges for researchers tasked with collecting and analyzing such data while protecting the privacy of human subjects. It also describes the disclosure risks and common legal and technical approaches currently used to manage confidentiality in longitudinal data. Finally, it identifies urgent problems and areas for future research to advance the integration of various methods for preserving confidentiality in research data.
Justin Reich, Sandra Cortesi, Paulina Haduong & Urs Gasser, Evaluation in Context: Reflections on How to Measure Success of Your 'WNM' Program (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2014-4, Jan. 14, 2014).
Categories:
Corporate Law & Securities
Sub-Categories:
Nonprofit Organizations
Type: Other
Abstract
Evaluation is the systematic investigation of the effects that your program has on the lives of people touched by your program. The process of designing an evaluation system benefits your program by clarifying your goals and identifying indicators of progress towards your goals. The results of evaluation provide program staff with important evidence that can shape a reflective process of iteration and improvement. The products of evaluation are also vital for demonstrating to philanthropists and grant-makers the value of their charitable investments. For many non-profit programs, evaluation is foreign and scary. We plunge into public service out of a passion for serving people, not because we want to gin up data for analysis. For those whose work depends upon the charity of others, evaluations run the risk of revealing weaknesses and limitations. Many people can be intimidated by the quantitative aspects of evaluation or feel that numerical summaries of work can obscure the transformative impact of programs on individual lives. But the best non-profit agencies are learning organizations, committed to a constant cycle of experiment, inquiry, reflection, and refinement. By studying our programs, testing our assumptions, and gathering evidence of our impact and shortcomings, we have the opportunity to do our work even better. We can use evaluation to engage a growing audience of philanthropists and grant-makers who want to invest in programs committed to gathering evidence of their effectiveness.
Urs Gasser, Momin M. Malik, Sandra Cortesi & Meredith Beaton, Mapping Approaches to News Literacy Curriculum Development: A Navigation Aid (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 25, Nov. 14, 2013).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Networked Society
,
Information Commons
Type: Other
Abstract
For the current round of Why News Matters grantees, the McCormick Foundation has funded a diverse set of programs and organizations from varying backgrounds to develop innovative news literacy curricula. Building upon insights from earlier conversations among the grantees and discussion at a recent workshop on this topic, the present brief seeks to provide a concise map of the space of news literacy, point out how to understand existing curricula, identify potentially relevant resources, and ultimately, serve as a practical 'navigation aid' for designing a curriculum. The basic questions that go into designing a curriculum will be quite mundane: who is this for? What should they learn? Why should they learn it? How should we accomplish this? But the answers to these questions can be anything but mundane. This brief attempts to be a guide around the what and how questions, as these are the places where grantees will be making the key choices when designing curricula. We begin by briefly covering learning theory as a background for what kind of teaching is possible. Then, we talk about formats for learning news literacy, and lastly we talk about the possible content of news literacy curriculum. Throughout, we give examples of McCormick grantees and others (many of which appear multiple times for the different categories under which they fall) as a way to make these classifications concrete so that grantees starting off in curriculum design have a sense of the resources that exist within the formats and type of content they are interested in exploring. Two caveats are important: First, we have aimed to incorporate helpful feedback from the grantees on a draft version of this document. However, as this is a contribution by the Youth and Media Team at the Berkman Center, we acknowledge that not all grantees might agree on every point made in this document. In fact, our hope is that the brief will invite and inform discussions about the ways in which we can think about news literacy and curriculum development. Second, and more fundamentally, there is some disagreement whether the broad interpretation of news literacy with its different approaches as presented in this document is helpful or not; again, we invite (and are happy to engage in) a debate about this conceptual question.
Momin M. Malik, Sandra Cortesi & Urs Gasser, The Challenges of Defining 'News Literacy’(Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2013-20, Oct. 18, 2013).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Information Commons
Type: Other
Abstract
This research brief is a contribution by the Youth and Media Team at the Berkman Center to the first "Why News Matters" grantees workshop sponsored by the McCormick Foundation and organized by the Educational Development Center, Inc., which took place on March 8 and March 11, 2013, in Chicago. Informed by our own research and practice, with a focus on 'news literacy', the brief seeks to stimulate a discussion among the grantees about different approaches to defining, framing, and understanding core concepts such as 'news' and 'news literacy', and to provide a frame of reference for a debate about the question of 'why news matters'.
David O’Brien, Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, E-Books in Libraries: A Briefing Document Developed in Preparation for a Workshop on E-Lending in Libraries (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-15, July 1, 2012).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Other
Abstract
This briefing document was developed with helpful inputs from industry stakeholders and other practitioners in preparation for the “E-Books in Libraries” workshop, hosted on February 24, 2012, by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society with the generous support of the Charles H. Revson Foundation. The “E-Books in Libraries” workshop was convened as part of a broader effort to explore current issues associated with digital publishing business models and access to digitally-published materials in libraries. Workshop attendees, including representatives from leading publishers, libraries, academia, and other industry experts, were invited to identify key challenges, share experiences, and prioritize areas for action. This document, which contains some updates reflecting new developments following the February workshop (up to June 2012), is intended to build on and continue that discussion with a broader audience, and encourage the development of next steps and concrete solutions. Beginning with a brief overview of the history and the current state of the e-book publishing market, the document traces the structure of the licensing practices and business models used by distributors to make e-books available in libraries, and identifies select challenges facing libraries and publishers. Where possible, we have made an effort to incorporate stakeholder perspectives and real-world examples to connect analysis to the actual questions, issues, and challenges that arise in practice. The document concludes with a number of informative resources – including news articles, whitepapers, stakeholder and trade association reports, and other online sources – that might inform future conversations, investigations, pilot projects, and best practices in this space. The topics presented in this briefing come at an important moment for the publishing industry, and in particular the e-book market, both of which have been rapidly evolving over the last several years. These changes are, in turn, affecting the models used by publishers’ horizontal and vertical business partners, such as libraries and distributors. While we have endeavored to provide accurate information within this document, the dynamic flux of the industry can make it difficult to accurately capture a comprehensive snapshot of its current state. For instance, during the course of our initial research we found that some information published as recently as September 2011 had already become outdated; other salient information is not made publicly available for competitive reasons. Please note that we consider this to be a working document, which we hope to develop further as information changes and the issues evolve.
John G. Palfrey & Urs Gasser, Interoperability in Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade (NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper No. 2012/26, Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-21, June 1, 2012).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
International Trade
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This is one of three in-depth exploratory studies, which aim to gain a deeper understanding of the role that interoperability plays as an enabler of innovation and creativity in international trade. Each study explores the various institutions, policies and approaches that shape the interoperability landscape and investigates the effects of these factors and drivers on trade in the globalized economy. In this series, we examine: (i) to what extent and how interoperability has contributed to the promotion of international trade; (ii) what respective roles international organizations have played in concert with other stakeholders with regard to interoperability and international trade; (iii) what policies and approaches to supporting interoperability have been used, and with what results; and (iv) what can be learned from these experiences with regard to emerging interoperability issues in the context of international trade. The three studies address this set of questions from different angles, acknowledging the multi-faceted character of the concept of interoperability (Gasser & Palfrey, Basic Books 2012). Two of them – “Fostering innovation and trade in the global information society: The different facets and roles of interoperability”, and “Mapping Cloud Interoperability in the Globalized Economy: Theory and Observations from Practice” – focus specifically on cloud computing, an emerging technical paradigm through which to analyze the policy relevance of interoperability in a globalized economy. This example also facilitates exploration of some of the key issues and practical challenges that arise as various stakeholders engage with cloud services, infrastructure, and data across the world, as well as the implications for trade, policy, and different actors, especially, governments.
 The third study, “Interoperability in Information and Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade” is focused on the role, current debates, and associated benefits and challenges in establishing a system of interoperability for information and information systems in the service of trade in a global economy over time.
Urs Gasser, John G. Palfrey & Matthew B. Becker, Mapping Cloud Interoperability in the Globalized Economy: Theory and Observation from Practice (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-19, June 1, 2012).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
International Trade
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This is one of three in-depth exploratory studies, which aim to gain a deeper understanding of the role that interoperability plays as an enabler of innovation and creativity in international trade. Each study explores the various institutions, policies and approaches that shape the interoperability landscape and investigates the effects of these factors and drivers on trade in the globalized economy. In this series, we examine: (i) to what extent and how interoperability has contributed to the promotion of international trade; (ii) what respective roles international organizations have played in concert with other stakeholders with regard to interoperability and international trade; (iii) what policies and approaches to supporting interoperability have been used, and with what results; and (iv) what can be learned from these experiences with regard to emerging interoperability issues in the context of international trade. The three studies address this set of questions from different angles, acknowledging the multi-faceted character of the concept of interoperability (Gasser & Palfrey, Basic Books 2012). Two of them “Fostering innovation and trade in the global information society: The different facets and roles of interoperability”, and “Mapping Cloud Interoperability in the Globalized Economy: Theory and Observations from Practice” – focus specifically on cloud computing, an emerging technical paradigm through which to analyze the policy relevance of interoperability in a globalized economy. This example also facilitates exploration of some of the key issues and practical challenges that arise as various stakeholders engage with cloud services, infrastructure, and data across the world, as well as the implications for trade, policy, and different actors, especially, governments.
 The third study, “Interoperability in Information and Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade” is focused on the role, current debates, and associated benefits and challenges in establishing a system of interoperability for information and information systems in the service of trade in a global economy over time.
John Kelly, Vladimir Barash, Karina Alexanyan, Bruce Etling, Robert Faris, Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, Mapping Russian Twitter (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-3, Mar. 23, 2012).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
Drawing from a corpus of over 50 million Russian-language tweets collected between March 2010 and March 2011, we created a network map of 10,285 users comprising the ‘discussion core,’ and clustered them based on a combination of network features. The resulting segmentation revealed key online constituencies active in Russian Twitter. The major topical groupings in Russian Twitter include: Political, Instrumental, CIS Regional, Technology, and Music. There are also several clusters centered on Russian regions, which is significant given the limited reach of the Internet in the regions outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russian Twitter features a great deal of activity generated by marketing campaigns and search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives, including both automated and coordinated human actors. After our initial mapping resulted in a network dominated by these ‘instrumental’ actors, we constructed a filter to limit their presence in the network and discover relationships among a wider variety of ‘organic’ actors. Similar to the Russian blogosphere, the Twitter network includes a democratic opposition cluster associated with Gary Kasparov and the opposition Solidarity movement.1 In other respects the political clusters identified in Weblog and Twitter networks display interesting variation. Nationalists, who are very active in Russian blogs, do not appear to be organized in Russian Twitter (at least as of March 2011). Conversely, pro-Putin youth groups like the Young Guards and Nashi, and elected officials allied with them, have a distinct Twitter footprint. While other clusters within Twitter often mirrored those in Weblogs, such as one cluster focused on major bloggers and online personalities, there were some Twitter clusters that had no clear Weblog analog. Most notably, there are two clusters of Twitter users affiliated with local government administrations in Tver and Ivanovo, representing active outreach to citizens by local government actors. While the filtered version of the map successfully reduced the presence of SEO actors, it curiously eliminated a pro-government cluster as well. In the filtered map, whereas the number of political actors was greatly increased overall, a cluster in the original map that focused on President Medvedev’s economic modernization policy disappeared, along with related hashtags. One possibility is that, as we observed in the Russian blogosphere, some political initiatives have adopted the tactics and/or services of online marketers.
Karina Alexanyan, Vladimir Barash, Bruce Etling, Robert Faris, Urs Gasser, John Kelly, John G. Palfrey & Hal Roberts, Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-2, Mar. 2, 2012).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Urs Gasser, Sandra Cortesi, Momin Malik & Ashley Lee, Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-1, Feb. 16, 2012).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Commons
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
Building upon a process- and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities. A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality — primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies — reveals patterns in youth’s information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation. Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure.
John G. Palfrey & Urs Gasser, Fostering Innovation and Trade in the Global Information Society: The Different Facets and Roles of Interoperability (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2012-20, NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper No. 2011/39, June 1, 2011).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
International Trade
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
This is one of three in-depth exploratory studies, which aim to gain a deeper understanding of the role that interoperability plays as an enabler of innovation and creativity in international trade. Each study explores the various institutions, policies and approaches that shape the interoperability landscape and investigates the effects of these factors and drivers on trade in the globalized economy. In this series, we examine: (i) to what extent and how interoperability has contributed to the promotion of international trade; (ii) what respective roles international organizations have played in concert with other stakeholders with regard to interoperability and international trade; (iii) what policies and approaches to supporting interoperability have been used, and with what results; and (iv) what can be learned from these experiences with regard to emerging interoperability issues in the context of international trade. The three studies address this set of questions from different angles, acknowledging the multi-faceted character of the concept of interoperability (Gasser & Palfrey, Basic Books 2012). Two of them – “Fostering innovation and trade in the global information society: The different facets and roles of interoperability”, and “Mapping Cloud Interoperability in the Globalized Economy: Theory and Observations from Practice” – focus specifically on cloud computing, an emerging technical paradigm through which to analyze the policy relevance of interoperability in a globalized economy. This example also facilitates exploration of some of the key issues and practical challenges that arise as various stakeholders engage with cloud services, infrastructure, and data across the world, as well as the implications for trade, policy, and different actors, especially, governments. 
The third study, “Interoperability in Information and Information Systems in the Furtherance of Trade” is focused on the role, current debates, and associated benefits and challenges in establishing a system of interoperability for information and information systems in the service of trade in a global economy over time.
Urs Gasser, Herbert Burkert, John G. Palfrey & Jonathan L. Zittrain, Accountability and Transparency at ICANN: An Independent Review (Final Report)(Berkman Ctr. Res. Publ’n No. 2010-13, Oct. 20, 2010).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
In August 2010, selected faculty and researchers at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, an independent, exploratory study analyzing ICANN’s decision-making processes and communications with its stakeholders. The study focused on developing a framework and recommendations for understanding and improving ICANN’s accountability and transparency. The study was undertaken as part of ICANN’s first Accountability and Transparency Review. On November 4, 2010, the Berkman team’s independent report was publicly posted alongside ICANN’s Accountability and Transparency Review Team's Draft Proposed Recommendations for Public Comment. The Executive Summary below outlines key Findings and Recommendations for Improvement. In addition to this Final Report, associated research materials, resources, and other supplementary inputs that were gathered in the course of the Berkman team’s work. 1. Problem Statement: In recent years, ICANN has taken important actions — ranging from significant policy changes to formal reviews — to improve its accountability, transparency, and the quality of its decision making. Despite considerable efforts and acknowledged improvements, ICANN continues to struggle with making decisions that the global Internet community can support. 2. Independent Review of Transparency and Accountability at ICANN: As part of a larger independent review process, faculty and researchers from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society have taken on the challenge of researching ICANN’s current efforts to improve accountability via mechanisms of transparency, public participation and corporate governance, and of analyzing key problems and issues across these areas. 3. Findings and Assessment: In-depth research into the three focus areas of this report reveals a highly complex picture with many interacting variables that make fact-finding challenging and also render simple solutions impossible. With this complexity in mind, and referring to the main text of the report for a more granular analysis, the findings and assessments of this report can be condensed as follows. ICANN’s performance regarding transparency is currently not meeting its potential across all areas reviewed and shows deficits along a number of dimensions. It calls for clearly defined improvements at the level of policy, information design, and decision making. ICANN has made significant progress in improving its public participation mechanisms and gets high marks regarding its overall trajectory in this regard. Remaining concerns about the practical impact of public participation on Board decisions are best addressed by increasing visibility and traceability of individual inputs, in order to clarify how these inputs ultimately factor into ICANN decision-making processes. ICANN’s greatest challenge ahead, despite significant recent efforts, remains corporate and Board governance. Proposed measures identified in this report aim to increase efficiency, transparency and accountability within the current context and in the absence of standard accountability mechanisms. 4. Recommendations: There is no straightforward way to address the various challenges ICANN faces. The approach underlying this report’s recommendations takes an evolutionary rather than revolutionary perspective. This approach is aimed at continually improving ICANN’s accountability step by step, based on lessons learned, through a series of measured interventions, reinforced by monitoring and subsequent re-evaluation. For each of the three focal areas covered in this report and for each of the key issues addressed, this report suggests ways in which the status quo can be improved. Some of these recommendations can be implemented quickly, others require policy changes, and still others call for more in-depth research, consultation and deliberation among the involved stakeholders. This report’s recommendations vary in kind and orientation. They encourage the adoption of best practices where available and experimentation with approaches and tools where feasible. Several of the recommendations are aimed at improving information processing, creation, distribution, and responsiveness at different levels of the organization.
Bruce Etling, Karina Alexanyan, John Kelly, Robert Faris, John G. Palfrey & Urs Gasser, Public Discourse in the Russian Blogosphere: Mapping RuNet Politics and Mobilization (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2010-11, Oct. 19, 2010).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Abstract
We analyzed Russian blogs to discover networks of discussion around politics and public affairs. Beginning with an initial set of over five million blogs, we used social network analysis to identify a highly active ‘Discussion Core’ of over 11,000. These were clustered according to long term patterns of citations within posts, and the resulting segmentation characterized through both automated and human content analysis. Key findings include: • Unlike their counterparts in the U.S. and elsewhere, Russian bloggers prefer platforms that combine features typical of blogs with features of social network services (SNSs) like Facebook. Russian blogging is dominated by a handful of these "SNS hybrids." • While the larger Russian blogosphere is highly divided according to platform, there is a central Discussion Core that contains the majority of political and public affairs discourse. This core is comprised mainly, though not exclusively, of blogs on the LiveJournal platform. • The Discussion Core features four major groupings: — Politics and Public Affairs (including news-focused discussion, business and finance, social activists, and political movements) — Culture (including literature, cinema, high culture, and popular culture) — Regional (bloggers in Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Israel, etc.) — Instrumental (paid blogging and blogging for external incentives) • Political/public affairs bloggers cover a broad spectrum of attitudes and agendas and include many who discuss politics from an independent standpoint, as well as those affiliated with offline political and social movements, including strong ‘Democratic Opposition’ and 'Nationalist' clusters. • The Russian political blogosphere supports more cross-linking debate than others we have studied (including those of the U.S. and Iran), and appears less subject to the formation of self-referential 'echo chambers.' • Pro-government bloggers are not especially prominent and do not constitute their own cluster, but are mostly located in a part of the network featuring general discussion of Russian public affairs. However, there is a concentration of bloggers affiliated with pro-government youth groups among the Instrumental bloggers. • We find evidence of political and social mobilization, particularly in those clusters affiliated with offline political and social movements. • The online 'news diet' of Russian bloggers is more independent, international, and oppositional than that of Russian Internet users overall, and far more so than that of non-Internet users, who are more reliant upon state-controlled federal TV channels. • Popular political YouTube videos focus on corruption and abuse of power by elites, the government, and the police.
Urs Gasser, Colin M. Maclay & John G. Palfrey, Working Towards a Deeper Understanding of Digital Safety for Children and Young People in Developing Nations (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2010-7, June 21, 2010).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Developing & Emerging Nations
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This exploratory study is a first output of an ongoing collaboration between the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and UNICEF. It is intended as a contribution towards building a deeper understanding of children’s safety in a digital context in developing nations. More specifically, the objectives of the paper are threefold: First (and foremost), it seeks to raise awareness about issues related to digital safety for youth in developing nations. Second, it aims to provide a tentative map of these issues and give insights into the current state of the respective research based on an exploratory literature review. Third, the paper seeks to outline the contours of a research framework through a series of working hypotheses that might inform subsequent research efforts on these issues by connecting efforts in developing and industrialized nations. The topic of this paper is challenging along a number of dimensions, including the complexity of the subject of investigation, cultural expectations and tolerance, language barriers, the highly limited availability of data, and limited access to scholarship from developing nations to the extent that it exists. We therefore decided not only to take a collaborative approach to research this paper (see methodology paragraph in paper), but also to release it as a “learning document” by soliciting feedback, comments, pointers to additional materials, etc. At the end of such a participatory period and after additional research on our end, the hope is to publish a revised and extended version of this paper in the format of a white paper.
danah boyd, Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, How the COPPA, as Implemented, is Misinterpreted by the Public: A Research Perspective (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2010-12, Apr. 29, 2010).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Other
Abstract
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Senate Subcommittee, and Commissioners of the United States Federal Trade Commission: Thank you for focusing attention on the important issues of youth privacy and safety online. As researchers, we welcome the opportunity to provide input into these hearings regarding the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). We write as individuals, but we work together as the principal investigators of the Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The goal of our working group is to explore policy issues that fall into three substantive categories that emerge from youth media practices: 1) Risky Behaviors and Online Safety; 2) Privacy, Publicity, and Reputation; and 3) Information Dissemination, Youth-Created Content and Information Quality. Our work is intended to consider how research on the intersection of youth and technology can and should be used to inform policy. We seek to translate research from those who study youth media practices into terms responsive to the children’s privacy hearings. There is no doubt that protecting children’s privacy and safety is of utmost importance in our society. These issues are growing in importance with every passing year. We commend the authors of COPPA for being so deeply concerned about privacy and safety. As you consider the future of legislation and rule-making in this area, we urge you to consider the gap between the intentions of COPPA and how children and their parents perceive the implementation. It is this gap that we’d like to address in our submission. And it is our proposal that this Subcommittee consider how COPPA’s two P’s – of Privacy Protection – might be worked more effectively back into any revision of COPPA.
John G. Palfrey, Urs Gasser & danah boyd, Response to FCC Notice of Inquiry 09-94: Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2010-02, Feb. 24, 2010).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Other
Abstract
This paper is a response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (09-94) on Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape (PDF). The response synthesizes current research and data on the media practices of youth, focusing on three main areas -- 1) Risky Behaviors and Online Safety, 2) Privacy, Publicity and Reputation, and 3) Information Dissemination, Youth-Created Content and Quality of Information -- in order to highlight issues of genuine concern, such as growing participation and literacy gaps, and, crucially, in order to discuss the positive and creative opportunities that electronic media provide for young people. In each area, potential policy responses are discussed.
Urs Gasser & Miriam Simun, Digital Lifestyle and Online Travel: Looking at the Case of Digital Natives, in Trends and Issues in Global Tourism 83 (Roland Conrady & Martin Buck eds., 2010).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Commons
,
Networked Society
Type: Book
Abstract
The integration of digital technologies into daily life is transforming human behaviour and social practices. This change has come especially quickly to many commercial activities. The travel industry has been especially transformed. Where once the travel agent was the chief mediator between the customer and a multitude of travel services, travel consumers are now enabled to interact with travel services directly from the comfort of their home. With the emergence of an Internet travel market, travel information and services have become marked by fragmentation. Further, a multitude of user-created travel information and services now augment and compete with traditional commercial enterprises. Digital Natives – young people who can not imagine a life without Google, Youtube and Wikipedia – are often found at the forefront of recent transformations in the travel experience – and therefore, the travel industry.
Urs Gasser, James M. Thurman, Richard Stäuber & Jan Gerlach, E-Democracy in Switzerland: Practice and Perspectives (Dike Publishers 2010).
Categories:
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
,
Technology & Law
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Elections & Voting
,
Foreign Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Book
Abstract
Electronic democracy is a relatively new subject of study. However, with the globalization of Internet use, the deployment of information and communication technology to improve democracy has rapidly gained worldwide attention. The authors of this book explore the practice of e-democracy in Switzerland, using three examples that roughly map three stages of the democratic process: 1) the pre-voting stage of Smartvote, a candidate-voter matching system; 2) the voting stage itself on the implementation of electronic voting (e-voting); and 3) the post-voting phase on the use of blogs by Moritz Leuenberger and Christoph Blocher, a current and a former member of the Swiss government, respectively. The authors describe and assess the implications of these uses of the Internet on democratic processes in Switzerland. They conclude that developing the tools discussed would hold opportunities for Swiss democracy, as they contribute to central principles of the democratic process, namely voter participation and citizen awareness. This report is a contribution by the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) to a series of related studies from various countries around the world, produced by the Internet & Democracy Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, which investigates the impact of the Internet on civic engagement and democratic processes.
John G. Palfrey, Urs Gasser, Miriam Simun & Rosalie Barnes, Youth, Creativity, and Copyright in the Digital Age (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n, June 1, 2009).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Cooperation, Peer-Production & Sharing
,
Intellectual Property Law
,
Networked Society
,
Digital Property
Type: Other
Abstract
New digital networked technologies enable users to participate in the consumption, distribution, and creation of content in ways that are revolutionary for both culture and industry. As a result, “Digital Natives” - young people growing up in the digital world with access to the technologies and the skills to use them in sophisticated ways - are now confronting copyright law on a regular basis. This article presents qualitative research conducted with students age 12-22 that explores youth understanding, attitudes, and discourse on the topic of digital creativity and copyright law. Our findings suggest that young people operate in the digital realm overwhelmingly ignorant of the rights, and to a lesser degree the restrictions, established in copyright law. They often engage in unlawful behavior, such as illegal peer-to-peer music downloading, yet they nevertheless demonstrate an interest in the rights and livelihoods of creators. Building upon our findings of the disconnect between technical, legal, and social norms as pertaining to copyright law, we present the initial stages of the development of an educational intervention that posits students as creators: the Creative Rights copyright curriculum. Educating youth about copyright law is important for empowering young people as actors in society, both in terms of their ability to contribute to cultural knowledge with creative practices and to engage with the laws that govern society.
Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, Mastering Multitasking, 66 Educ. Leadership 14 (2009).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
It's part of every digital native's life. Can we help students do it right? In 2007 alone, 161 billion gigabytes of digital content were created, stored, and shared around the world. This is equivalent to 12 stacks of books reaching from the Earth to the sun, or six tons of books for every living person (Gantz, 2008). It's not only the exponential growth of digital information that is staggering. The number of communication channels is also growing rapidly. A business research firm recently calculated that a typical worker in the knowledge economy deals with 200 e-mails, dozens of instant messages, multiple phone calls, and several text messages a day (Spira & Goldes, 2007).
Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, Breaking Down Digital Barriers: When and How ICT Interoperability Drives Innovation (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2007-8, Mar. 6, 2008).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Digital Property
,
Cooperation, Peer-Production & Sharing
,
Information Commons
,
Intellectual Property Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
Interoperability, like openness, is something that we generally think of as a good thing in the context of information and communications technologies (ICTs). One of the reasons why we tend to like interoperability is that we believe it leads to innovation, as well as other positive things like consumer choice, ease of use, and competition. In this study, we have done a deep-dive on three cases - DRM-protected music, Digital ID, and Mashups in the Web services context - as well as cursory reviews of other narratives with a goal of understanding a range of views on how interoperability comes to pass, what is optimal in terms of interoperability, how interoperability relates to innovation, and how we ought to approach achieving greater interoperability. Our research suggests that these inclinations about interoperability are on the mark in a general sense, but that the picture is filled with nuance. Interoperability does not mean the same thing in every context. Interoperability is not always good for everyone all the time. And the relationship between interoperability and innovation, while it likely exists in most cases, is extremely hard to prove. There is no one-size-fits-all way to achieve interoperability in the ICT context. There are a range of approaches that have relative merits depending upon the circumstances: efforts within a single firm to interconnect products or within firms; collaboration between or among two or more firms; standards processes, including open fora and ad hoc cooperation; and a wide range of roles for governments, most of which are ex post rather than ex ante modes of regulation. In various contexts, one or more of these approaches may be the best suited to accomplishing the goal of interoperability and the relevant subsidiary goals (Not surprisingly, European attitudes toward the mode of accomplishing interoperability are quite different from American inclinations). Our conclusion is that interoperability generally supports innovation in the ICT context, but that the relationship between the two is highly complex and fact-specific. We conclude also that the best path to interoperability depends greatly upon context and which subsidiary goals matter most, such as prompting further innovation, providing consumer choice or ease of use, and the spurring of competition in the field. We conclude further that the private sector generally ought to lead efforts in interoperability, with the public sector ready either to lend a supportive hand or to determine after the fact whether the market has failed in a way such that state action is the best means of rectifying the problem. In many instances, a blended approach - involving one or more approaches concurrently - may be optimal. We recommend a process solution for considering which approach or approaches makes the most sense in a given context. We also highlight the issue that sustaining interoperability - not just establishing it in the first instance - is a key place to focus attention. Our case study of mashups points to the concern that the most informal arrangements in the context of Web 2.0 functioning as a kind of operating system may lead to problems in the future if not stabilized in some fashion.
John G. Palfrey & Urs Gasser, Born Digital Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic Books 2008).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Book
Abstract
The most enduring change wrought by the digital revolution is neither the new business models nor the new search algorithms, but rather the massive generation gap between those who were born digital and those who were not. The first generation of "digital natives"--children who were born into and raised in the digital world--is now coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our cultural life, even the shape of our family life will be forever transformed. But who are these digital natives? How are they different from older generations, and what is the world they're creating going to look like? Based on original research and advancing new theories, the authors explore a broad range of issues, from the highly philosophical to the purely practical. --From publisher description.
Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, Case Study: Digital Identity Interoperability and eInnovation (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2007-11, Dec. 12, 2007).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This paper, one of three case studies in a transatlantic research project exploring the connection between Information and Communication Technology interoperability and eInnovation, considers the current state and possible evolution of Digital Identity. While consumers would undoubtedly reap convenience benefits from an ubiquitous single sign-on (SSO) technology, the potential for privacy and security issues makes Digital ID a complex issue. The user-centric, federated, and centralized models of Digital ID each have their advantages and drawbacks. While a few companies have previously attempted to establish a single Digital ID standard that they would control, the failure of those efforts has led to a situation where most players in the industry seem to see interoperability as essential to build up the market in the face of frequent ambivalence from consumers, e-commerce merchants, and other potential users. Broadly, Digital ID could enable a wide range of new Web-based applications, increasing consumers' flexibility and reducing transactions costs. However, having Digital ID be too ubiquitous could threaten the continued viability of anonymous speech in some contexts. It could also lead to more entities having greater access to personal data of consumers, raising the stakes of potential data breaches. The paper concludes that the route to interoperability most likely to lead to innovation would include continued collaboration among industry players to settle on one or a few consolidated efforts. Except in special areas, governments can best play a peripheral role, encouraging coordination through soft regulatory approaches like bringing stakeholders together and using their market power as major data holders and users. If privacy and security issues are addressed (and current stakeholders seem acutely aware of them), Digital ID interoperability has the potential to be extremely generative, creating new markets and enabling interoperability among other applications and services. If, however, coordination breaks down among market leaders and rival technologies emerge, it seems likely that user adoption will remain low and the benefits will be limited.
Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, Case Study: Mashups Interoperability and eInnovation (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2007-10, Nov. 28, 2007).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cooperation, Peer-Production & Sharing
,
Digital Property
,
Intellectual Property Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
Web services have been wildly hyped for a long while now. Web services, and more specifically mashups, on which we focus here, are an area of enormous innovation. That innovation is manifested through new business models, new technologies, and clever new ways to use and share data. It's also an area where interoperability is the name of the game; the notion that people, data, and code can interact with other people, data, and code is the starting point for these services. The word interoperable is often in the definition of what a Web service is. The focus of this case study is the relationship between innovation in Web services applications and the interoperability (or interoperability potential) that we see. We conclude that the connection between interoperability and innovation is plain in this context. A wide variety of mashups that are useful to individuals, enterprises, and society as a whole have been enabled by interoperability in Web services, and could not exist without it. The drivers of interoperability have been market demand, private ordering, and work done in standards bodies. But the system by which it has come to pass is currently unstable, in the sense that a lawsuit or withdrawal of interoperable interfaces by a key stakeholder could set back innovation considerably. We consider several options for creating greater sustainability over time, such as license interoperability, open standards, and back-up in the form of traditional law enforcement.
Urs Gasser & John G. Palfrey, Catch-As-Catch-Can: A Case Note on Grokster (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2005, Oct. 2005).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Digital Property
,
Intellectual Property Law
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
In summer 2005, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision which is surely destined to play a significant role in the interrelation between law and technology in the coming years. The case, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., et al. v. Grokster, Ltd., et al., pitted copyright holders against the operators of certain peer-to-peer online file-sharing services and was awaited by many in both the legal and technology communities as a referendum on the landmark legal precedent set in the Sony-Betamax case. The Sony case came to represent the legal standard for determining when manufacturers of dual-use technology - technology capable of both legally noninfringing and infringing uses - should be given a safe harbor from liability for acts on the part of their consumers which violated copyright law. Surprisingly, the Supreme Court's decision did not center around an affirmation or rejection of the Sony ruling; rather the Court based their opinion on a common law principle which, they held, was not preempted by the holding in Sony. The inducement to infringe copyright, although not a completely novel cause of action, has been perceived by some commentators to introduce a change in the legal landscape of secondary liability for copyright infringement. In this article, we provide an extensive exposition of the Court's decision and discuss the disposition of the decision including the implication of the two concurring opinions. We also speculate on the impact that the Court's decision will have on the technology sector and on technological innovation in particular. Ultimately, we grapple with new questions which the decision has presented for industry and the continued existence of peer-to-peer file-sharing.
Derek Slater, Urs Gasser, Meg Smith, Derek E. Bambauer & John G. Palfrey, Content and Control: Assessing the Impact of Policy Choices on Potential Online Business Models in the Music and Film Industries (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ’n No. 2005-01, Jan. 26, 2005).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Property Rights
,
Networked Society
,
Intellectual Property Law
,
Digital Property
Type: Other
Abstract
The online environment and new digital technologies threaten the viability of the music and film industries' traditional business models. The industries have responded by seeking government intervention, among other means, to protect their traditional models as well as by developing new models specifically adapted to the online market. Industry activity and public debate have focused on three key policy areas related to copyright holders' control of content: technical interference with and potential liability of P2P services; copyright infringers' civil and criminal liability; and legal reinforcement of digital rights management technologies (DRM). This paper seeks to support policymakers' decision making by delineating the potential consequences of policy actions in these areas. To do so, it assesses how such action would impact relevant social values and four business models representative of current and emerging attempts to generate viable revenues from digital media. The authors caution that government intervention is currently premature because it is unlikely to strike an appropriate balance between achieving industry goals while supporting other social values, such as consumer rights, the diversity of available content, and technological innovation.
Information Quality Regulation: Foundations, Perspectives, and Applications (Urs Gasser ed., Nomos 2004).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Information Commons
,
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Book

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