Digital Policy update – March 2012


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Spring has sprung .. And a year ago – it was the Arab spring – the repercussions of which, are still being felt. The Internet is at the root of social transformations like the Arab spring. At the policy bloggers network, we track the impact of the Internet on digital policy – in many areas. The monthly newsletters also track trends – including ‘under the radar’ trends relevant to policy makers.
Here is our analysis for March ..

In this newsletter, we look at the Internet and the elements of the Internet(Internet governance, Privacy, Human rights, Social media, Security, IPR, Cloud, Standards and Transatlantic collaboration) followed by the areas impacted by the Internet for Digital technology policy(Smart energy, Healthcare, Telecoms and Mobile, Evolution of news, Evolution of media and Innovation)

Let’s start with this wonderful infographic from Intel which shows us what happens in an ‘Internet minute’ (and what will happen soon ..)


Here are some more details by segment ..

Internet governance and human rights

All over the world, governments continue to assert their rights over the Internet. Not just Iran and North Korea but Pakistan (Pakistan Internet Filtering Scare: Citizens await answers | Bytes for All,,  the UK (Internet activity ‘to be monitored’ under new laws) and China with a rumoured coup(China’s censors out in force as coup rumours spread • The ) .

Meanwhile, at a human level, we always ask why are there not more women in technology (Why aren’t there more women in technology? Here are a few clues | Technology |  and bloggers continue to be restrained(Human Rights and Free Expression Groups Demand Release of Vietnamese Bloggers | Electronic Frontier   and citizen journalists get rights to record activities of law enforcement in Boston( After a major First Amendment ruling, Boston police settle a cellphone recording lawsuit » Nieman Journalism

Surprisingly, even the most astute politicians struggle with the impact of the Internet (Bloomberg Says Social Media Can Hurt Governing – When it comes to social media, Mayor Bloomberg has a few concerns and speaks of the difficulties of leading a city into the future amid a political culture that is often focused on the short term. Mayor Bloomberg says – “Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments” and that “We are basically having a referendum on every single thing that we do every day,”. Amongst all this, we must not forget that the Internet Accounts for 4.7% of the U.S. Economy [STUDY]


But we are constantly reminded of the dark side of the Internet and in March – it was the ‘Girls around me’ application (This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy [Update] | Cult of  Girls Around Me is a standard geolocation based maps app but it does what it says on the box – i.e. through a combination of facebook profiles, foursquare profiles etc – identifies ‘Girls around me’ – without their consent. There has been a predictable backlash against Girls around me application from the industry (Foursquare shuts off API access to creepy app, Girls Around

Meanwhile, amid extra scrutiny from Congress around privacy issues, Apple this week has started rejecting apps that access UDIDs, or identification numbers that are unique to every iPhone and iPad.(Amid Privacy Concerns, Apple Has Started Rejecting Apps That Access UDIDs | and a storm is brewing with employers demanding Facebook passwords (ACLU: Facebook password isn’t your boss’ business –

We continue to push privacy boundaries (Japan Court Tells Google to Disable  and the privacy violations continue( RockYou to pay FTC $250K after breach of 32M passwords – SC And EU Commissioner: US Should Catch Up with Europe on Data Privacy

Smart energy

There is BIG news in the Smart energy segment with the Green button initiative but first we have the 100 networked grid movers and shakers(The Networked Grid 100: The Movers and Shakers of the Smart Grid in 2012 :Greentech

The Green button is the big news of the month (“Green Button” Open Data Just Created an App Market for 27M US

The Green button is the project launched by former US CTO Aneesh Chopra to unleash energy data. The Obama Administration announced that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers have committed to using and extending the Green Button to enable some 15 million households to access data about their energy usage. Similar to the Blue Button for healthcare data, the White House asserts that providing energy consumers with secure access to information about energy usage will increase innovation in the sector and empower citizens with more information. The Green Button is like OAuth for energy data. It is a simple standard that the utilities can implement on one side and web/mobile developers can implement on the other side. And the result is a ton of information sharing about energy consumption and in all likelihood energy savings that result from more informed consumers.

The Green Button gets a lot of coverage(The Green Button Goes Commercial : Greentech and (Apps for Energy looks to jumpstart open innovation around the Green Button | Gov 2.0: The Power of

Social media

Social media is the driver to all the change .. and this month – Twitter turns six Happy Sixth Birthday, Twitter – Bo Kim – Voices –  However, the focus has already shifted to the new kid on the block – Pinterest (As Pinterest grows visitors 52% in one month, journalism profs find news uses for it |  and there are questions if Is Pinterest the next Facebook? – Fortune and How much does Pinterest actually make? — Tech News and with speculation on its valuation (What kind of revenue numbers would justify Pinterest’s $200 million valuation?). Even the president is on Pinterest (The president now pinning on Pinterest – :: Future of

Also as social media platforms like Twitter mature we see the phenomenon of Twitter quitters (Twitter quitters: increasing numbers of celebrities leave the site – and High School Student Expelled For Tweeting Profanity; Principal Admits School Tracks All Tweets |

Finally, this month we also see DC’s Top Ten Influencers in Social Media |


Like social media, the Cloud also continues to evolve and shape the Internet. The debates around Private cloud continue – (Private cloud-public cloud schism is a meaningless distraction | Cloud Computing – – As does thinking around the Civic cloud(Is the Civic Cloud the Next Big (er, Small) Thing? | Cloudline | Major initiatives like the UK’s G-cloud are still being played out( Whitehall’s G-Cloud: Hype or hope? • Channel It appears that the G-Cloud is not quite what it seems. As per the register, for now, the G-Cloud is merely two things: “a way to approve and certify software, hardware and services from technology companies – from handsets and calling plans to hosted email and collaboration services, and something the government calls Cloudstore, which lists the services and the contact details of their suppliers.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese search firm Baidu has launched a cloud storage service in the country, bringing it into competition with local rival Alibaba, as well as Dropbox, Microsoft and others in the space, according to Techweb [Chinese]. (Baidu Launches Cloud Storage Service in

Finally, we see the Top 10 cloud computing leaders in 2012 – Top 10 cloud computing leaders in


In the security space:

1)      3 Approaches to Securing Identity in the Today, there are a multitude of alternative architectures put forth by services opting to be your one source for identity, and ReadWriteWeb has chosen to spotlight three of them.

2)      Former cybersecurity czar: Every major U.S. company has been hacked by China | Former White House cybersecurity advisor Richard Clarke has made a career out of issuing security warnings.

3)      The Europol is announced: Europe to assemble crack cyber-intelligence nerve centre • The


1)      2015 is the time when royalties will be charged for MPEG-LA - The time bomb called H.264 is set to explode in 2015. Are you watching?

2)      Silicon Valley leads the world in technology but it’s losing a debate over how that technology should be used. A new surge in patent lawsuits shows that Chicago, not Silicon Valley, is setting the rules for how patents should encourage innovation. - How Chicago Is Beating Silicon Valley At The Patent Game |


The Internet and Social media affect many domains – such as healthcare. In The problem with social media and  the author considers the view that “Social media is absolutely wonderful at spreading new ideas, new being the operative word. In order for social media to exist and function, it must engage users on a daily basis. And therein lies the problem with social media and health. But to understand this, we have to define health to users.”

In research as well there is speculation that citations of journal articles and the impact factor are widely used measures of scientific impact. Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and social bookmarking tools provide the possibility to construct article-level or journal-level metrics to gauge impact and influence. (CasesBlog – Medical and Health Blog: The Number of Tweets Predicts Future Citations of a Specific Journal

But there is also speculation that Healthcare may be different(Why Healthcare Is Different | The Health Care – A very insightful analysis that gives five reasons why healthcare may be different( The health care field will not adopt a Silicon Valley mentality, Regulations can’t force change, The insurance companies are not the locus of cost and treatment problems, Doctors don’t want to be care managers, Patients don’t want to be care managers). Meanwhile we continue to get reports that ‘healthcare could adopt social media faster’ – (Canadian Healthcare Slow on Social Media Adoption « Susan L.

Telecoms and Mobile

The world of Telecoms and Mobile continues to change, transform us and also be transformed. Here are some interesting areas:

Apple has reportedly offered its design for itsy bitsy SIM cards — known officially as nano-SIM — to other mobile device makers that are part of the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) without asking them to pay for it. There’s probably more to it than a sudden spirit of generosity. Apple loves to control the entire experience of its products, and when it comes to the iPhone and now iPad, the biggest uncontrollable element is a customer’s wireless carrier. And having a say in the SIM card, in theory, pushes Apple closer to the long-term goal of controlling every aspect of its mobile devices. (Why does Apple care so much about SIM cards anyway? — Apple News, Tips and )

In Japan - Japan Smartphone Shipments to Rise by But all platforms continue to grow - After 16 Months, Windows Phone Has 70k Apps. How Long Did it Take iOS and Android? | The inneractive  And Best Buy Is Selling Nearly as Many iPhones as Apple Itself – John Paczkowski – News –

Networks continue to evolve – with some conflict (LightSquared hits FCC right where it hurts • The  And some speculation (56 London Overground Train Stations to get Free and we continue to invest in innovation(Microsoft and Nokia Invest $24 Million in Finnish AppCampus

The on-going debate around ‘web vs. mobile’ continues with the Pew centre joining in (The Future of Apps and Web | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life  and another bit of research from the Pew foundation investigates - What do teens do with their phones? | Pew Internet & American Life

At a regulatory level - EU mobile biz barons agree to slash roaming charges • The  Again with Mobile Operators - Mobile operators mourn death of embedded 4G • The Contrary to expectations, about 90 per cent of tablets sold in the US towards the end of 2011 were Wi-Fi only. In addition, all major smartphone platforms now support tethering – the ability to share the phone’s mobile broadband connection – normally with up to five devices. Tethering effectively turns the handset into a Wi-Fi hotspot, using the 3G/4G connection as backhaul. The article in the Register argues that – “there’s something fundamentally wrong with operators charging for something I’m already paying for. If I’m on a mobile plan with a 1GB limit, I should be able to use that data allowance for whatever I want. “

Meanwhile, in the developing world, mobile phones continue to change lives - World News: How the developing world is using cellphone technology to change lives – An excellent article which lists the impact of FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi, Refugees United, NextDrop, MercyCorps, M-Pesa, Boom, iCow, CocoaLink, mFarm, NAFIS, Senevote2012, Samadhan, uReport, TulaSalud, Childcount+, Txtalert

Evolution of news

The evolution of news, a topic of recent EIF events, is also in the news itself

Google offers a new alternative for news monetization (A paywall alternative? Google launches revenue-generating surveys | Media news | and Alan Rusbridger: What are you prepared to give back in return for journalism: money, time or data? – :: Future of

NYT gains some success in the digital subscriptions battle and decides to restrict free content (

NYT: We Have 454,000 Digital Subs So Let’s Turn Down The Meter |

Meanwhile, the Top 100 Apps in the iPad’s Newsstand Bring in $70,000 a Day Combined – Technology – The Atlantic - contrast that with the fact that in 2011 the New York times raked in $705 million annually, or $1.9 million a day, in circulation, both in print and digitally, and $756 million in advertising, or $2.1 million a day.

News organizations face some of their own transparency battles (News Organizations That Lobby Against Their Own Reporters’ Interests :

Amid speculation of monetization of news (Mobile and the news media’s imploding business model | Michael Wolff | Comment is free |, we also see innovation.

1)      Gannett Buys 1,000 iPhones For Journalists |

2)      Layoffs At CNN As Network Transitions To Acquisition Model For Documentary Programming –

3)      Will Hachette Be The First Big-6 Publisher To Drop DRM On E-Books? |

4)      10 More News Organizations To Follow On Pinterest – 10,000


Evolution of media

Post SOPA, media also continues to evolve

1)      White House calls for new law targeting ‘offshore’ Web sites | Privacy Inc. – CNET

2)      White House’s New Report On Intellectual Property Enforcement Should Get A Copyright As A Creative Work Of Fiction |

3)      Google+ Gets its First UK TV Ad

4)      Ireland’s Largest ISP Wants Country-Wide Three-Strikes Piracy Response |

5)      How social media users multitask while watching



And finally, in the innovation section here are some trends to watch:

1)      Twine, The Gadget That Senses Your Environment And Tweets You, Is Coming In May | Singularity

2)      Knowledge is a property of the network: Mapping Britannica’s world in a Wikipedia age » Nieman Journalism “The problem, however, isn’t that we’ve grown complacent about the nature of knowledge, but that the nature of knowledge is changing in the context of networks. The vision of knowledge as paradigmatic, structured, ordered, like the hierarchy of the church and the deputations of sovereignty, was very much a product of encyclopedism’s golden age, the eighteenth century. “

3)      $35 Raspberry Pi Linux PC delayed once

4)      Wikipedia’s Next Big Thing: Wikidata, A Machine-Readable, User-Editable Database Funded By Google, Paul Allen And Others |

5)      India and United States jointly develop Open Government Platform — Federal Computer

6)      That latest student craze sweeping China: Supercomputing wars • The

7)      Chinese gov wants global e-commerce crown • The


Hope you enjoyed this episode!