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Exploring the Darknet in Five Easy Questions

Exploring the Darknet in Five Easy Questions

Many people are probably aware of something called “the darknet” (also sometimes called the “dark web”) or might have a vague notion of what it might be. However, many probably don’t know much about the global flows of drugs, weapons, and other illicit items traded on darknet marketplaces like AlphaBay and Hansa, the two large […]

Digital platforms are governing systems — so it’s time we examined them in more detail

Digital platforms are not just software-based media, they are governing systems that control, interact, and accumulate. As surfaces on which social action takes place, digital platforms mediate — and to a considerable extent, dictate — economic relationships and social action. By automating market exchanges they solidify relationships into material infrastructure, lend a degree of immutability […]

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Why we shouldn’t believe the hype about the Internet “creating” development

Vast sums of money have been invested in projects to connect the world’s remaining four billion people, with these ambitious schemes often presenting digital connectivity as a means to achieve a range of social and economic developmental goals. This is especially the case for Africa, where Internet penetration rates remain relatively low, while the need […]

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Could data pay for global development? Introducing data financing for global good

“If data is the new oil, then why aren’t we taxing it like we tax oil?” That was the essence of the provocative brief that set in motion our recent 6-month research project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The results are detailed in the new report: Data Financing for Global Good: A Feasibility Study. The parallels […]

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The blockchain paradox: Why distributed ledger technologies may do little to transform the economy

Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, is widely expected to find applications far beyond digital payments. It is celebrated as a “paradigm shift in the very idea of economic organization”. But the OII’s Professor Vili Lehdonvirta contends that such revolutionary potentials may be undermined by a fundamental paradox that has to do with the governance of […]

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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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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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Examining the data-driven value chains that are changing Rwanda’s tea sector

There has been a lot of hope and publicity about the economic potential of increased Internet connectivity in the East African region; including the hope of disintermediation and better connection to global markets. Chris Foster discusses the findings of an OII project on Development and Broadband Internet Access in East Africa. Through surveys, interviews and in-depth observations, the project examines the expectations and stated potentials of broadband Internet in East Africa, comparing those expectations to the on-the-ground effects of broadband connectivity.

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