Monthly Archives: September 2015

The State of Broadband 2015

Source: Broadband Commission for Digital Development

From the Introduction:

A large body of evidence has now been amassed that affordable and effective broadband connectivity is a vital enabler of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Although global mobile cellular subscriptions will exceed 7 billion in 2015 (with nearly half of these subscriptions for mobile broadband), growth in mobile cellular subscriptions has slowed markedly. The total number of unique mobile subscribers is between 3.7-5 billion people (according to different sources), with some observers interpreting this as an indication that the digital divide may soon be bridged.

However, the digital divide is proving stubbornly persistent in terms of access to broadband Internet, including the challenge of extending last-mile access to infrastructure to remote and rural communities. According to ITU’s latest data, 43% of the world’s population is now online with some form of regular access to the Internet. This leaves 57% or some 4.2 billion of the world’s people who still do not enjoy regular access to the Internet. In the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), only one out of every ten people is online. The gender digital divide is also proving incredibly difficult to overcome, reflecting broader social gender inequalities.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 2.1 MB)

HEC is launching ‘Pakistan School on Internet Governance

Author: Maryam Dodhy
Source: TechJuice

Higher Education Commission (HEC) is all set to launch Pakistan School on Internet Governance (pkSIG), with an inaugral four-day workshop to be held from 5 – 8 October. The workshop is being organized in partnership with Asia-Pacific Network Internet Centre (APNIC), Internet Society (ISoc) and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The governance of our ecosystem has long been the concern of a selected group of stakeholders. Internet Governance is a contested topic, where the Pakistan School on Internet Governance (pkSIG) will try to offer understanding, framing, and actions to be taken in this Internet governance environment. At this point it should be mentioned that Pakistan is the first SAARC country to embrace e-governance and recently 13 of our ministries upgraded to the e-governance model.

The main aim of pkSIG is to provide a comprehensive course that will cover political, legal, economic, socio-cultural, technological and other dimensions of Internet Governance within the context of Pakistan’s national objectives. The pkSIG will help individuals from Pakistan to better understand the global and regional Internet Governance issues, settings, and processes while gaining access to comprehensive and structured knowledge on the various aspects of Internet Governance, and the actors, issues and settings surrounding it.

The workshop will offer potential governance scenarios and analyze its international, regional, and national political, economical, and technical implications and a complete history of the Internet starting from the early days. Speakers will try to highlight various topics like social media, local content and other relevant modern internet topics.

Facebook’s Free Internet Access Program in Developing Countries Provokes Backlash

Author: Newley Purnell & Resty Woro Uniar
Source: The Center for Internet & Society

When Muhammad Maiyagy Gery heard about a new mobile app from Facebook Inc. that provides free Internet access in his native Indonesia, he was excited.

But after testing it, the 24-year-old student from a mining town on the eastern edge of Borneo soon deleted the app, called Internet.org, frustrated that he was unable to access Google. com and some local Indonesian sites.

Mr. Gery said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is an “inspiration in the tech world,” but added that the company’s free Internet effort is “inadequate.”

Mr. Gery’s reaction illustrates the unexpected criticism Facebook has encountered to its bold initiative to bring free Internet access to the world’s four billion people who don’t have it, and to increase connectivity among those with limited access. He is one of many users who say a Facebook-led partnership is providing truncated access to websites, thwarting the principles of what is known in the U.S. as net neutrality—the view that Internet providers shouldn’t be able to dictate consumer access to websites.

Since Mr. Zuckerberg’s announcement of the $1 billion project two years ago, Facebook has launched Internet.org in 19 countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa by teaming up with mobile carriers and technology giants including Samsung Electronics Co. , chip maker Qualcomm Inc. and telecom-equipment firm Ericsson AB. Facebook says that through the initiative, in which it is also experimenting with drones and satellites to deliver Web access, some nine million people have come online.

But criticism about the initiative has placed Facebook in an awkward position. The social network along with other tech companies like Amazon.com Inc. and Twitter Inc. are members of the U.S. industry group Internet Association, which advocates for net neutrality, among other issues. In markets like Indonesia and India, critics say Facebook is more interested in controlling which websites users can tap into than in ensuring free Internet access. “It’s not Internet.org. It’s walled garden.org,” said Sunil Abraham, head of the Bangalore, India-based Center for Internet and Society.

Berkman Center Launches New Internet Data Dashboard

“The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to announce the launch of the Internet Monitor dashboard, a freely accessible tool that aims to improve information for policymakers, researchers, advocates, and user communities working to shape the future of the Internet by helping them understand trends in Internet health and activity through data analysis and visualization. “Over three billion people around the globe use the Internet—for communication, for education, for livelihood,” said Urs Gasser, Executive Director of the Berkman Center. “As the Internet becomes a vital part of more and more people’s lives and as we shape its future, we need both data and analysis to help understand how it’s working. The Internet Monitor dashboard brings this data and analysis together in an easily shareable way.” The dashboard lets users customize a collection of data visualization widgets—some offering real-time data—about Internet access and infrastructure, online content controls, and digital activity. Users can create multiple collections that enable easy comparisons across countries and data sources, and are quick to configure, edit, and share. In addition to creating their own collections, visitors to the dashboard will be able to view a selection of featured collections based on topics such as online media and network traffic around the world.”

The Advent of the Micro-Singularity

The Advent of the Micro-Singularity

In June 2015, when over a billion people worldwide suddenly conversed over the inception of the image of one woman, Caitlyn Jenner, it became clear that a new type of news event entirely was taking hold. It occurred once again in July 2015, when social media invented the news event that ‘Cecil the Lion’ had been hunted by a Minnesota dentist- this event immediately became a voguish concern around the internet-connected world. While this affinity for artifactuality, the propensity to create and distill a sense of factuality among imagined identities, is not new, the enormity of the scale of this commemorative consciousness (collective memory) is very much the product of social media intervention. In other words, surgically grafting femaleness unto the male body is, from a Lacanian perspective a testament to the artifactuality of gender, and as such purports the same sort of ‘manipulation at will’ by which we define and reify the image-based identities of the subjects of our media (Dean 78-79). Whether the mass culture voice, collectively murmuring through social media by way of hashtag-activism are reifying celebrities, or attributing imaginary characteristics of identity unto a speechless animal, the medium itself is enabling these voices to function in a new way: journalist Amber Case calls this, “the micro-singularity.”

Case defines the micro-singularity as the juncture at which all the world’s social internet channels momentarily focus their awareness around a single phenomenon, while it’s still happening- “Emile Durkheim’s conscience collective digitally transformed into a literal entity” (Case 1.) Case demands that we must understand how these orchestrated news events arise, who appears them, how they evolve around manufactured call-signs (e.g. #JeSuisCharlie, in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre,) and how our media can help moderate discussion by putting simple architecture in place to fact-check accusations (e.g. wrongful accusations of guilt hurled at misidentified suspects immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing.)

As Goodwell Nzou phrased it in The New York Times, “The American tendency to romanticize animals that have been given actual names and to jump onto a hashtag train has turned an ordinary situation — there were 800 lions legally killed over a decade by well-heeled foreigners who shelled out serious money to prove their prowess — into what seems to my Zimbabwean eyes an absurdist circus… We Zimbabweans are left shaking our heads, wondering why Americans care more about African animals than about African people” (Nzou 3). Case implores both the connected sphere and its moderators alike (e.g. Twitter, Inc.,) to instate emergency protocols for these situations like staying in touch with local law-enforcement to protect those who are wrongfully ‘convicted’ by social media long before proper identification or due process, and building filters in order to prevent the posting of addresses and telephone numbers to ‘Trending’ Twitter micro-singularities. The power for worldwide rapid communication in this way is very positive for the evolution of an educated public sphere, so long as the facts the process is inventing in extremis are treated as exactly that: invented facts. In the age of the micro-singularity, it’s most important to retain what I would call a sense of macro-plurality, an understanding that all news events are merely representations that stand outside the real, most plural, truth. In the age of the micro-singularity it is, as J.F. Brenzenberg (1777–1846) says, “what is true has no windows; nowhere does the true look out to the universe” (Brenzenberg 287).

Graphic: “Watch What Cecil the Lion Did to Twitter” [Source: Dan Tynan, Yahoo! Tech; July 30 2015]

Created by CartoDB

Created by CartoDB, a free Web-based data visualization tool, this map shows how many people tweeted using the hashtag #cecilthelion, around the globe, for a seven-hour period yesterday afternoon.


Sources (in order of appearance,)

Dean, Tim. Beyond Sexuality. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, Illinois. 2000. Print.

Fast Co.Exist: Welcome to the Age of the Micro-Singularity

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3047798/welcome-to-the-age-of-the-micro-singularity

NYT: In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry for Lions

http://nyti.ms/1KOMBEy

Brenzenberg, Johann Friedrich. Briefe geschreiben auf einer Reise nach Paris (Dortmund, 1805), vol. 1, p. 260. Print.

[Graphic] Yahoo! Tech: Watch What Cecil the Lion Did to Twitter

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/watch-what-cecil-the-lion-did-to-twitter-125442840269.html

Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping Reach Agreement on Cyber Spying Issues

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/56057717e4b0dd8503074966


“Neither country’s government would conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property.”

WASHINGTON, Sept 25 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had reached a “common understanding” on steps to curb cyber spying and agreed that neither government would conduct economic espionage in cyberspace.

The two leaders also unveiled a deal to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year, outlining new steps they will take to deliver on pledges they made then to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking after White House talks during Xi’s first U.S. state visit, Obama quickly homed in on the thorniest dispute between the world’s two biggest economies – growing U.S. complaints about Chinese hacking of government and corporate databases.

“I raised, once again, our rising concerns about growing cyber threats to American companies and American citizens. I indicated that it has to stop,” Obama told reporters at a joint news conference, with Xi standing at his side. “Today I can announce that our two countries reached a common undersanding on the way forward.”

The White House said the two leaders agreed to create a senior expert group to further discuss cyber issues, and a high-level group to talk about how to fight cyber crime that will meet by the end of 2015 and twice a year after that.

Even as the White House rolled out the red carpet for Xi, behind the pomp and pageantry were tensions over a litany of issues, including Beijing’s economic policies, territorial disputes with its neighbors and China’s human rights record.

Obama greeted Xi on arrival at the White House on Friday morning for an elaborate ceremony on the South Lawn, including a military honor guard and 21-gun salute. The two leaders then sat down for a formal summit.

U.S. and Chinese officials sought to cast the talks in a favorable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation – the global fight against climate change.

As part of their agreement, Xi announced that China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, will launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain the country’s emissions, which will build on seven regional pilot markets already operation in China. Such systems put limits on carbon emissions and open up markets for companies to buy and sell the right to produce emissions.

China’s status as a developing country has meant it is under no obligation to promise carbon cuts, a situation that has irked U.S. politicians and other industrialized nations. For Obama, the deal with China strengthens his hand ahead of a global summit on climate change in Paris in December.

But disagreements on other issues still loomed.

Obama told Xi at a welcoming ceremony that the United States would continue to speak out over its differences with China.

“We believe that nations are more successful and the world makes more progress when our companies compete on a level playing field, when disputes are resolved peacefully and when the universal human rights of all people are upheld,” he said, with Xi standing at his side.

On a more conciliatory note, Obama reiterated that the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is “stable, prosperous and peaceful.”

Xi then spoke of a need to be “broad-minded” about the two countries’ differences, to have “mutual respect” and to “meet each other half-way” in order to improve relations.

As the two leaders spoke, dozens of pro- and anti-Xi protesters gathered near the White House grounds, waving flags, beating drums and shouting slogans.

FOR XI, POPE VISIT IS TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW

Despite the ceremonial honors, the Chinese Communist leader, coming to Washington on the heels of Pope Francis, can expect nothing like the wall-to-wall U.S. news coverage given the popular pontiff, who drew adoring crowds wherever he went. On Friday, live television broadcasts of the pope’s visit to the United Nations drowned out Xi’s arrival at the White House.

Obama also pressed Xi to follow through on economic reforms and refrain from discrimination against U.S. companies operating in China. Some analysts believe Obama has more leverage due to China’s slowing economic growth, which has destabilized global markets.

At the same time, the Obama administration is still at a loss about how to curb China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued to reclaim land for potential military use despite conflicting claims with its neighbors.

Obama said he had “candid” discussions with Xi on disputes in the Asia-Pacific region and “reiterated the right of all countries to freedom of navigation and over-flight and to unimpeded commerce.”

In a reminder of potential flashpoints, the United State and China also finalized a confidence-building plan aimed at reducing the risk of aerial collisions between warplanes in areas such as the South China Sea, through adoption of common rules of behavior.

Calls for Obama to take a harder line with China have echoed from Congress to the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. But his approach was likely to be tempered because the U.S. and Chinese economies are so closely bound.

On Friday night, Obama will host a lavish black-tie state dinner where guests will dine on Maine lobster and Colorado lamb.

Xi arrived in Washington from Seattle, where he sought to reassure companies that he is working to improve the investment climate in China. His visit there included an announcement by Boeing that it had won $38 billion worth of orders and commitments for planes from China.

 (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Valerie Volcovici, Julia Edwards, David Brunnstrom; Writing by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Mark Zuckerberg Announces Project to Connect Refugee Camps to the Internet

UNITED NATIONS —  Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, promoted access to the Internet as “an enabler of human rights” and a “force for peace” on Saturday, as he announced that his company would help the United Nations bring Internet connections to refugee camps.

“It’s not all altruism,” Mr. Zuckerberg said later, in an implicit acknowledgment that drawing new users to his service is also good for Facebook’s bottom line. “We all benefit when we are more connected.”

Where and how Facebook would work with refugee camps, he did not say.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s remarks came at a lunch hosted by the United Nations Private Sector Forum at the world body’s headquarters. It was attended by government leaders and business executives and was intended to encourage private-sector cooperation to advance the ambitious global development goals adopted Friday in the General Assembly.

Mr. Zuckerberg sat next to Ms. Merkel. His company has faced a rash of legal trouble across Europe, including in Germany, over privacy concerns.

The connectivity ambitions are at the center of Mr. Zuckerberg’s advocacy effort, Internet.org, whose goal is to offer Internet access to about four billion people in the world who cannot afford smartphones or do not live near fiber-optic cable lines or cell towers. Internet.org teamed up with phone carriers to offer free access to Facebook and other websites in developing countries like India, but critics said it would restrict what people could access in what critics called Facebook’s “walled garden.”

In April, 65 organizations from around the world sent an open letter to Mr. Zuckerberg complaining that the project violated the principles of net neutrality in the guise of “access for impoverished people.”

In the courtyard of the General Assembly building this past week, Facebook displayed pieces of the mammoth drone that it is building to beam Wi-Fi connections to places that have none. The drone is as big as a Boeing 737 and is solar-powered. It has yet to be launched, and it is one of several efforts underway by technology companies to spread the Internet to unconnected parts of the world. Google is trying something of its own, a network of high-altitude balloons.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s remarks coincided with a petition that he began with the entertainer Bono, the philanthropist Mo Ibrahim and others to expand connectivity, calling Internet access “essential” to achieving the development goals but skirting thorny issues like net neutrality and Internet censorship. The petition describes the Internet as “an enabler of human rights.”

Nearby, Obama administration officials sponsored an event to demonstrate anti-censorship tools, built with financial help from the government, for dissidents in repressive countries.

“The openness of the global Internet is challenged today like never before,” Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said, calling the countermeasures that companies and groups were developing “a foretaste of our response.”

To Unite the Earth, Connect It

Opinion by SEVENTY years ago, the United Nations was formed as the expression of a simple choice: cooperation instead of war. Humanity would stand as one against conflict, poverty and disease. All the world’s voices would be heard.

At least, that was the plan.

We’ve come a long way. We’ve halted and reversed the spread of killer diseases, extended life expectancy and raised incomes. We’ve even walked ourselves back from the edge of some global conflicts and catastrophes. But progress has not been evenly distributed. Too many people have been left outside of a mostly urban, mostly Northern success story.

Seeing that, world leaders put forth a new set of global goals in New York last week. If we want to build a world where not just some but all get to live in security and prosperity, there’s a lot still to do, as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development signed off on by United Nations member states shows.

It lists 17 goals and 169 targets, and one of these, 9(c), is a target that we believe is crucial to accelerate realization of all the others: a commitment to provide Internet connectivity for all by 2020.

Today over half the people on this planet don’t have access. That is not good for anyone — not for the disempowered and disconnected, and not for the other half, whose commerce and security depend on having stable societies.

An unprecedented array of technologists and activists — from Mo Ibrahim to Bill and Melinda Gates, action/2015, Ushahidi and Sahara Reporters have come together to support a global Connectivity Declaration, pledging their support for the new global goals and connecting the world to opportunity. This needs to become a global movement….(More)”

SEE ALSO http://connecttheworld.one.org/

Europe must not create a Balkanised internet

Financial Times“Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass internet surveillance by US spying agencies may make fewer headlines than they once did. That has not stopped his disclosures continuing to damage the transatlantic relationship. Angered at how the US National Security Agency snooped on EU citizens in the past, the bloc’s politicians and judges are determined to pass data protection laws that ensure such activities are curtailed in future. If Europe continues on its current path, however, it risks inflicting far more harm on its trading relations with the US than it will do on American spies.

The rift between Washington and Brussels over internet surveillance deepened this week after a ruling by Yves Bot, the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General. Under an EU-US treaty called the “Safe Harbour Agreement” signed 15 years ago, more than 4,000 technology companies — including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon — can transfer data that they have collected in Europe wholesale back to the US. This week, Mr Bot declared the pact illegal, arguing that privacy protections across the Atlantic are lower than they should be. In his view, the US fails to protect the personal data of EU citizens from “mass, indiscriminate surveillance” by the country’s intelligence agencies.

Mr Bot’s opinion is not binding and awaits a final ruling by the ECJ next year. Europe’s politicians and legislators need to recognise the economic damage that would be done if it were to become law. US tech companies would be unable to transfer any of their customers’ data out of Europe. They would be forced to create expensive parallel storage systems on EU soil. The ECJ has already put Google and other search companies under pressure by giving citizens the right to have embarrassing queries that include their name removed. Abandoning “Safe Harbour” would add to perceptions that the bloc remains a regulatory minefield for US companies.

More worryingly, the move would accelerate the drift to a Balkanised internet with harmful implications for the US and especially European economies….(More)”

American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) Runs Out of New IPv4 Addresses for North America

Stephen Lawson at PC World: North America has finally run out of new addresses based on IPv4, the numbering system that got the Internet where it is today but which is running out of space for the coming era of networking.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers, the nonprofit group that distributes Internet addresses for the region, said Thursday it has assigned the last addresses in its free pool. The announcement came after years of warnings from ARIN and others that IPv4 addresses were running out and that enterprises and carriers should adopt the next protocol, IPv6.

'ARIN IPv4 Free Pool Reaches Zero'

Anyone who still needs IPv4 addresses can request them from ARIN, but the organization won’t have any to give away unless it gets more from the global Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) or returned addresses from users who don’t need them anymore. ARIN already runs a waiting list for requests, which it set up earlier this year.

Users can also buy IPv4 addresses on the so-called transfer market from others who don’t need them and are looking to make some money. Addresses recently were going for around US$10-$12 each, according to people who follow the transfer market.

Sources:

PC World – It’s official: North America is out of new IPv4 addresses

ARIN – ARIN IPv4 free pool reaches zero

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