Archive | May, 2014

Net Neutrality: Past Rulings and Future Debate

This week, the FCC ruled 3-2 to release a new proposal on net neutrality, which will be opened for comment from the public.  In light of the lively debate that is already starting on this issue, it’s important to understand how the concept of net neutrality has been established in the United States over the past decade.

History of rulings on Net Neutrality

In 2005, the FCC agreed upon the following four principles of “open internet.”

  • Consumers have the right to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • Consumers have the right to use the services and applications of their choice.
  • Consumers have the right to use their choice of devices to access the Internet, as long as said devices do not harm the network.
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among service, application, network, and content providers

The 2005 principles of “open internet” represent the basic tenets of net neutrality.

In 2010, the FCC released the Open Internet Order, which laid out rules for maintaining net neutrality.  The ruling established three important rules for Internet service providers:

  • Transparency – Network providers must make publicly available their network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their contracts.
  • No Blocking – Network providers may not block any lawful content from consumers.  This is important because it keeps network providers from blocking sites or applications from their users that compete with their services.
  • No Unreasonable Discrimination – Network providers cannot discriminate in transmitting network traffic, as long as it is lawful.

However, in Verizon v. FCC in January, 2014, two out of these three rules were rescinded.  Stating that Internet service providers are not common carriers, and therefore are outside of the FCC’s realm of authority, the ruling claims that the FCC cannot impose the rules of net neutrality on Internet providers.  This ruling is seen by proponents of net neutrality as detrimental to the principles of open internet.  While the ruling did not comment on the validity of the rules themselves, it made the 2010 Open Internet Order unenforceable by the FCC.

What’s happening now?

There has been a large public outcry against the Verizon v. FCC ruling, since it is seen by many consumers as a huge step backwards for net neutrality.  The January ruling has the potential to allow Internet service providers to essentially govern the Internet as suits their commercial interests.

The latest proposal by the FCC for creating new rules for net neutrality has also raised concerns that corporate interests are being placed ahead of the principles of open internet.  The proposed rules allow for “commercially reasonable” behavior by Internet service providers to regulate Internet content.  This provision could allow content providers to pay for “fast lanes” of service for certain content, which opponents say would discriminate against slower content.  The possibility that the newly proposed rules could allow for discrimination of Internet content by providers led to a rally of protesters outside of FCC offices as the ruling took place.  But those on the other side of the debate, namely the Internet service providers themselves, claim that the new proposed rules introduce too much regulation, and will inhibit innovation in the Internet industry.  The ruling has strong political implications in the Congress as lawmakers consider future action.

The encouraging part of the proposal for both sides of the debate is its designation of a four-month period to accept public comments on the issue.  Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, says that this call for comments is intended to open a conversation between lawmakers and the public to ensure that the new ruling upholds the tenets of net neutrality.  The next four months will surely see some lively arguments on the subject of net neutrality, and the forthcoming decisions by the FCC will be important to the future of Internet regulation in the United States.

Check out the resources below to learn more about net neutrality!

**Want to file a comment to the FCC on net neutrality? Here’s the FCC’s information on how to comment.**

News and Opinions

F.C.C. Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate – The New York Times

Amid protests, U.S. FCC proposes new ‘net neutrality’ rules – Reuters

The real battle for net neutrality just began – The Verge

Demand Progress – Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality an Oxymoron as FCC Decides Winners and Losers – Bloomberg

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Bauer, J. M., & Obar, J. A. (2014). Reconciling Political and Economic Goals in the Net Neutrality Debate. Information Society30(1), 1-19.

Boliek, B. L. (2011). FCC Regulations Versus Antitrust: How Net Neutrality is Defining the Boundaries. Boston College Law Review52(5), 1627-1686.

Kramer, Jan, Wiewiorra, Lukas, Weinhardt, Christof. (2013). Net Neutrality: A progress report. Telecommunications Policy, 37, 794-813.

Pogue, D. (2014). The Great Net Debate. Scientific American310(4), 36.

Books at the UIUC Libraries

Guadamuz, Andrés. (2011). Networks, complexity and internet regulation: scale-free law. Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar.

Nunziato, Dawn C. (2009). Virtual freedom :net neutrality and free speech in the Internet ageStanford, Calif. : Stanford Law Books.

Stiegler, Zachary. (Eds.) (2013). Regulating the Web :network neutrality and the fate of the open Internet. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Zelnick, Robert, Zelnick, Eva. (2013). The illusion of net neutrality: political alarmism, regulatory creep, and the real threat to Internet freedomStanford, CA : Hoover Institution Press.

 

Comments { 0 }

World Press Freedom Day 2014

World Press Freedom Index 2014 map: “freedom of the press worldwide.” (By Reporters Without Borders)

The Importance of Free Press

Saturday, May 3rd marks World Press Freedom Day 2014. This event, organized by UNESCO, presents a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the importance of free press and intellectual freedom, and the great impact that these issues have on creating a world with just and corruption-free governance.  The role of journalism is to bring issues of government, culture, science, environment, and society into the public light – to inform the people and hopefully to spark dialogues that include the diverse public into the process of shaping public policy.  A UNESCO press release explains that a free news media not only helps in policy shaping but also leads to the reduction of poverty through intellectual empowerment and increased mobility of groups that can be disproportionately affected by poverty, such as women and youth.

Global Obstacles to Free Press

In order to provide this service, journalists and the news media need to be free to report the news truthfully. In many places around the world, journalists do not have this freedom.  UNESCO reports that journalists face obstacles including censorship, arrest, and even threats of physical harm and death.  It is the goal of organizations such as Reporters without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, and many more, to protect the rights of journalists and raise awareness about the threats to press freedom that exist in the world.

Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index 2014 ranks countries based on pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency,  and infrastructure.  The United States has fallen thirteen places on the list in the past year, currently residing in 46th place.  This change is largely due to the government’s efforts to increase security and track down whistleblowers and leaks. These actions by the government, according to Reporters Without Borders, inhibit journalists from revealing information to the public that may be in the interest of the public good.  Other countries have fallen on the list because of armed conflict. These countries include Lebanon and Iraq (due to the conflict in neighboring Syria), and Mali, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (due to the activities of guerrilla and terrorist groups in the region). In some cases, organized crime is a danger to journalists and has caused a decline in press freedom in certain countries, most notably Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, and Paraguay.

Improving Press Freedom for the Future

Increasing press freedom is a major goal of the UN’s Post-2015 Development Goals.  Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”  The 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Protocols Additional 1 and 2 to the Geneva Conventions also include provisions for press freedom.  These international agreements create a powerful impetus for countries around the world to keep striving for greater press freedom and to keep assessing the ways that journalists and reporters are treated.

Additional Organizations

ARTICLE 19 is an international human rights organisation which defends and promotes freedom of expression and freedom of information all over the world.

The Ethical Journalism Initiative website is a new campaign to rekindle old values in media worldwide, launched by the International Federation of Journalists.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is a press advocacy group representing media organizations in North America, South America and the Caribbean.

The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) is a global network of around 90 non-governmental organisations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression.

The International News Safety Institute (INSI) is a coalition of news organisations, journalist support groups and individuals exclusively dedicated to the safety of news media staff working in dangerous environments.

International Press Institute is the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, dedicated to freedom of the press and improving the standards and practices of journalism.

News and Websites

Tadias – World Free Press Day 2014

UNESCO – Free Media Contribute to Good Governance, Empowerment and Eradicating Poverty

UNESCO Freedom of Expression Toolkit – A Guide for Students

Press freedom in the digital age: new threats, new challenges – The Council of Europe’s Commissioner: Human Rights Comment

Webcast of the UN Briefing for World Press Freedom Day 2014 – May 1, 2014

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-journals)

Policinski, G. (2012). A Free Press? It’s Not That Simple. Insights On Law & Society12(3), 4-7.

THEMUDO, N. S. (2013). Reassessing the Impact of Civil Society: Nonprofit Sector, Press Freedom, and Corruption. Governance26(1), 63-89. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0491.2012.01602.x

Books at the UIUC Library

Czepek, Andrea.; Hellwig, Melanie; Nowak, Eva. (Eds.) (2009). Press freedom and pluralism in Europe :concepts and conditionsBristol, UK: Intellect.

Knightley, Phillip. (2004) The first casualty :the war correspondent as hero and myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press,

Price, Monroe E.,; Abbott, Susan; Morgan, Libby. (Eds.) (2011). Measures of press freedom and media contributions to development: evaluating the evaluatorsNew York : Peter Lang.

Siegel, Paul. (2014). Communication law in America. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield.

Smith, Dean C.. (2013).  A theory of shield laws :journalists, their sources, and popular constitutionalismEl Paso : LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC.

Wasserman, Herman. (Eds.) (2013). Press freedom in Africa :comparative perspectivesLondon : Routledge.

Comments { 0 }

IDEALS: Disseminating and Preserving Illinois Scholarship

What is IDEALS?

The Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship, known as IDEALS, is a service at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign that preserves and provides access to a wide body of faculty, staff and student publications and research.  The mission of IDEALS is to provide access and preservation of the works of U of I members, and to give those works the “maximum possible recognition.”  IDEALS was created in 2004 to address the problem of how to archive and preserve the work of the university’s members in light of the massive shift toward digital publishing that was taking place.

Benefits of Institutional Repositories

When scholarship is deposited into IDEALS, the descriptive information (metadata) that is provided by the depositor is not only used in the IDEALS repository for searching and retrieval but is made available to outside services, such as Google Scholar. By making U of I scholarship openly accessible to outside users, IDEALS hopes to increase the impact of the scholarly work taking place at Illinois, which not only furthers the university mission of the dissemination of knowledge but brings professional benefits to the individuals who produce the work.

Another benefit that IDEALS provides is the commitment to preserve the scholarly works that are part of its collections.  The process of digital preservation is extremely important in the swiftly changing technological world that today’s scholarship exists within.  In order to maintain the viability of the digital files that make up the repository, IDEALS adheres to a complicated digital preservation policy, which must remain compliant to accepted standards for digital preservation, the most important of which is the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model.  Because of IDEALS’ strict observance of the international standards for digital preservation, the creators that submit their work to the IDEALS repository can be confident that their work will be available and accessible for many years to come.

Copyright Issues

There are two main types of open access publishing for research articles.  “Green” OA refers to publishing in open access repositories; “gold” OA refers to publishing in open access journals. The main difference between these two types of open access publishing is that “gold” OA is a more structured process involving peer review and the traditional editing process found in journal publishing.  Some OA journals require the author to pay a fee in order to publish, and others use subsidies from their host institution. “Green” OA, on the other hand, does not involve a peer review process, and might contain peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed work.

Since IDEALS is an open access repository (an example of “green” OA), it allows individual creators to retain the copyright of their deposited works.  But what if the article being deposited has already been published in a copyright-protected journal?  When scholars publish in most journals, they must sign over their copyright to do so.  This is a complicated issue, and can definitely be an obstacle for making work available in an institutional repository.  Many journals allow authors to publish their “pre-print” work to an IR, which is essentially the author’s first draft of a work before it has been peer-reviewed and edited.   Some journals, however, support “green” OA and will allow authors to deposit their work into and OA repository.

IDEALS describes its purpose as “a complement to traditional scholarly publishing.”  In other words, it does not aim to inhibit the process of traditional journal publishing, but rather wishes to provide a secondary option to authors that allows them to make their work openly available.  For instance, IDEALS informs authors that they may have the option in their contract when publishing in a journal to retain rights for the depositing of the work into an institutional repository.  Just by educating authors about their options, IDEALS is helping to make sure that Illinois scholarship is made available and disseminated as widely as possible.

Now you know what IDEALS is – go check it out! 

You can use IDEALS to find scholarship about topics you might be interested in, or maybe you have some of your own work you’d like to deposit.  You can find out how at Getting Started with IDEALS.  Either way, all members of the University of Illinois community should take advantage of the opportunity to take part in the community of scholarship available through IDEALS.

Further information about Open Access and Institutional Repositories

International Open Access Repositories and Directories

Scientific Electronic Library Online (SCIELO) – a directory of open access scientific repositories focusing on developing countries and regions.

OpenDOAR - Listings of open access repositories around the world.

Websites

Open Access Overview – Peter Suber (Includes great explanation for “green” vs. “gold” OA)

PLOS – The Case for Open Access

SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) – Open Access

Sherpa/RoMEO - a database of copyright information for journals.

Scholarly Articles (Accessed through UIUC E-Journals)

Casey, A. M. (2012). Does Tenure Matter? Factors Influencing Faculty Contributions to Institutional Repositories. Journal Of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication1(1), 1-11.

Cullen, Rowena, Chawner, Brnda. (2011). Institutional Repositories, Open Access, and Scholarly Communication: A Study of Conflicting Paradigms. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 37(6), 460-470.

Kennison, R., Shreeves, S. L., & Harnad, S. (2013). Point & Counterpoint: The Purpose of Institutional Repositories: Green OA or Beyond? Journal Of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication(4), 1-7.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Crawford, Walt. (2011). Open access: what you need to know nowChicago : American Library Association.

Jones, Catherine. (2007). Institutional repositories: content and culture in an open access environment. Oxford : handos.

Nabe, Jonathan A.. (2010). Starting, strengthening, and managing institutional repositories :a how-to-do-it-manual. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Suber, Peter. (2012) Open access. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.

 

Comments { 0 }