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Uber and Airbnb make the rules now — but to whose benefit?

Ride-hailing app Uber is close to replacing government-licensed taxis in some cities, while Airbnb’s accommodation rental platform has become a serious competitor to government-regulated hotel markets. Many other apps and platforms are trying to do the same in other sectors of the economy. In my previous post, I argued that platforms can be viewed in […]

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Why are citizens migrating to Uber and Airbnb, and what should governments do about it?

Cars were smashed and tires burned in France last month in protests against the ride hailing app Uber. Less violent protests have also been staged against Airbnb, a platform for renting short-term accommodation. Despite the protests, neither platform shows any signs of faltering. Uber says it has a million users in France, and is available […]

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Iris scanners can now identify us from 40 feet away

Public anxiety and legal protections currently pose a major challenge to anyone wanting to introduce eye-scanning security technologies. Reposted from The Conversation.   Biometric technologies are on the rise. By electronically recording data about individual’s physical attributes such as fingerprints or iris patterns, security and law enforcement services can quickly identify people with a high […]

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Should we use old or new rules to regulate warfare in the information age?

As contemporary societies grow increasingly dependant on ICTs, any form of attack that involves their informational infrastructures poses serious risks and raises the need for adequate defence and regulatory measures. The OII’s Mariarosaria Taddeo discusses the outcome of a recent NATO CCD COE workshop on Ethics and Policies for Cyber Warfare, which focused on the question of the adequacy and efficacy of existing laws and ethical frameworks for the regulation of cyber warfare. Read the full workshop report [PDF, 400kb].

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Does a market-approach to online privacy protection result in better protection for users?

While prior studies have focused on what’s written in privacy policy statements, systematic attention on the interactive aspects of the Web have been scant. Yong Jin Park (Howard University) discusses his article published in Policy & Internet: A Broken System of Self-Regulation of Privacy Online? Surveillance, Control, and Limits of User Features in U.S. Websites. His analysis, based on a sample of 398 commercial sites in the US, shows that more popular sites did not necessarily provide better privacy control features for users than sites that were randomly selected.

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Will digital innovation disintermediate banking — and can regulatory frameworks keep up?

Many of Europe’s economies are hampered by a waning number of innovations, partially attributable to the European financial system’s aversion to funding innovative enterprises and initiatives. Pēteris Zilgalvis discusses his recent Policy & Internet article The Need for an Innovation Principle in Regulatory Impact Assessment: The Case of Finance and Innovation in Europe (2014 6,4), which argues for the adoption of an “innovation principle” in regulatory impact assessment that prioritizes regulatory approaches that serve to promote innovation.

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Designing Internet technologies for the public good

The ongoing development of computing, communications and storage technologies presents a challenge to privacy protection, given the increasing ease with which personal data can be collected, analysed, stored, and shared. OII Professor Ian Brown discusses how “privacy by design” techniques such as data minimisation can provide a template for societies that wish to ensure the continued protection of core social values in an increasingly technology-mediated world. Full article: Keeping our secrets? Designing Internet technologies for the public good.

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Monitoring Internet openness and rights: report from the Citizen Lab Summer Institute 2014

The control of information flows on the Internet is becoming more commonplace, in authoritarian regimes as well as in liberal democracies. Ben Zevenbergen and Jon Penney discuss their presentations at the (University of Toronto) Citizen Lab’s summer institute on “Monitoring Internet Openness and Rights.” The institute brought together academics, business representatives and regulators to discuss information control research and practice in the fields such as censorship, circumvention, surveillance to private sector and governmental adherence to human rights.

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Evidence on the extent of harms experienced by children as a result of online risks: implications for policy and research

Child Internet safety is a topic that continues to gain a great deal of media coverage and policy attention: but online risk and harm are not equivalent and should not be conflated. OII Fellow Victoria Nash discusses the results of her review (with Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova and Monica Bulger) of the available empirical evidence detailing Internet-related harms experienced by children and adolescents, to gain a sense of the types of harm recorded, their severity and frequency. Read the full article: Evidence on the extent of harms experienced by children as a result of online risks: implications for policy and research (iCS journal).

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The challenges of government use of cloud services for public service delivery

Cloud services hold the promise of rendering public service delivery and back-office operations more effective and efficient, by providing ubiquitous, on-demand access to computing resources. Beyond the compelling cost economies, cloud technology is also a promising platform for open government, interagency cooperation, and government innovation. However, Kristina Irion (Central European University and University of Amsterdam) says that what looks like an ideal match actually raises a range of unresolved issues, and national governments are faced with legal risks that would contest national data sovereignty.

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