Implementing technological developments

9. Bit protection

The very nature of digital production techniques, content, and networks, makes protecting bits from people and people from others who (mis)use bits against them deeply problematic.

  • Bits are easily copied and shared.
  • The global reach of digital technologies compromises the local nature of statutes and practices.
    • In most aspects, we (the US) would like the rest of the world to use our legal regimes of intellectual property (IP) protections/restrictions.
    • In most aspects, although no one "runs the web," the US still plays a major role in most of the "standards" bodies that help coordinate the way it works. The US sees itself as the Internet's primary custodian.
    • In some parts of the world, that is seen as productive and ok
    • In other parts of the world, that is seen as an exploitation of their resources and rights.
    • In other parts of the world, it hardly matters, they just (for the most part), ignore either us or are unable to do much with new media.
    • As will be noted, we are somewhat better at demanding that others protect our stuff for us than we are at protecting their stuff for them.
  • Business practices and legal systems have been, for the most part, designed and developed in "analog times" and no longer "solve" for many of the challenges brought forth by digital technologies.
    • Federal/state, interstate, and international laws were not designed for the digital world; efforts to catch up are mired in difficulties. Particularly, for example, there is no consensus as to who needs the most protection: everyday users or corporate interests.
      • In the US, we tend to give preference to corporate interests.
        • Corporations hold most of the valuable IP assets
        • Corporations played a large role in developing the laws that are in place
        • Until recently, the laws were mostly used by corporations in dealing with each other (and countries with other countries). Now the law has to apply to "everyman" and it's not been designed by our elected officials or for the purposes of protecting citizens and their rights.

      so . . . on the one hand, the companies trot up to Capitol Hill and complain about the NSA forcing them to give up information about their users (even though all of the tel-coms and most of the internet giants have been complicit for years).

        • They say "don't force us to betray the trust that our users put in us." While at the same time . . . the companies themselves don't want legitimate ad blocker businesses to ruin the party . . . so they want the government to consider intervening against those technologies.
        • They decry the government wanting to put holes in their back doors . . . as an invasion of privacy
        • But they don't want ad blocker companies to enable consumers to say the same thing (allow me to use what I want and block what I don't want).
        • They say "we don't want government intervention on the marketplace; yet, they want government to intervene in the privacy marketplace.
      • In many other countries, the government plays a larger role in protecting its citizens
      • And of course, in many other countries, the government plays a larger role in using media/new media against its citizens.
      • Trouble in the cryptography industries: The work is now at such a high level that US security folks often place limits on the ways that researchers exchange information. This is VERY much unlike the way that academic research is supposed to play out and is against the way that research, innovation, and development makes progress.
    • Most in-use provisions were spliced into "other" legal or treaty arrangements rather than developing as a natural outcome of careful considerations of specific questions.
    • Like every other sort of international issue, there is no single adjudication body.
    • The distributed nature of the Internet problematizes command and control: No single entity is in charge.
    • In-place (old media) like laws/practices that protect & aid them. New media present challenges and one of the ways to meet the challenges is by supporting laws that keep the new guys at bay.
    • Technology has come on pretty quickly: users need protection now; protections take time to develop.
    • There are cultural clashes between elites/professionals/those in developed countries and everyperson/digital native creators/those in under-developed countries.
    • The net reaches a broad demographic range. Who merits protection (age, socio-economics, geography, culture)?
    • "A Fairy Use Tale"

  • There are difficulties protecting bits from people.
    • As you well know, digital technologies have put the means of production and distribution in the hands of broad segments of people across a very wide geographic range. Content is not locked down in a cut-and-paste culture.
      • Notice that, more and more, everyday users are being "shifted" from machines and applications with full production capabilities to devices and "apps" that are more geared toward consumption than production.
    • Digital natives tend to not see legal limitations in the same light as do digital transplants or analog media types.
    • We have loads of trouble protecting our even our analog infrastructure. In some ways, most are way behind in the digital environment.
    • The protection schemes themselves are either overly esoteric, non-standard, or hotly contested. They are also big business in themselves (e.g.DRM & cryptography).

  • There are difficulties protecting people from others who use bits in harmful ways (protecting people from bits)
    • At what age should we stop "protecting" children from the internet? Until that age, how should we "protect" them?
    • There are bad people in the world. There are people with causes that, to them, justify radical action. The webbed nature of things gives them loads of opportunities to make trouble
    • As you've seen, sometimes "hackers" are "protesting" in ways that might constitute free speech or serious social action.
    • And sometimes, the proported threats to people from bits is simply exaggerated.
    • Many (many, many) users are lax, leaving themselves and their information open to attack.

Concept 9 Analysis article:

"For Sale on eBay: A Military Database of Fingerprints and Iris Scans."

Want to learn more?

Bruce Schneler. Click Here to Kill Everybody. W. W. Norton & Co. 2018.

David E. Sanger. The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age. Crown, 2018.

Edward Lee Lamoureux, Steven L. Baron and Claire Stewart. Intellectual Property Law and Interactive Media :Free For a Fee. Peter Lang Pub., 2015.

Adam Tanner. What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data—Lifeblood of Big Business—and the End of Privacy as We Know It. PublicAffairs: 2014.

Carlin Romano, "Copyright Goes Philosophical" Chronicle of Higher Education JAN. 29, 2012 (our library subscribes to online access)

James Bamford, "The Secret War," Wired, 06.12.13

Bollier, David. "Governing the Digital Commons"
Bollier, David (2005) Brand Name Bullies: The Quest to Own and Control Culture

Lessig, Lawrence (2004). Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. Penguin Press.

Lessig, Lawrence (2001) .The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World

Levy, Steven. Crypto: How the code rebels beat the government. Penguin Books, 2001.

Litman, Jessica (2001) Digital Copyright

McLeod, Kembrew (2001). Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership, & Intellectual Property Law. Peter Lang

Summary, DMCA

(A) Text Reading Analyses

(B) Concept Analyses

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