The News Media meets ‘New Media’: Rights, Responsibilities and Regulation in the Digital Age

-Who are the news media and what is their role in society?

-Should the news media continue to have access to special legal privileges to enable them to do their job? If so, who should qualify for these privileges and under what conditions?

-What standards should apply to the news media and how should they be held accountable to these standards?

-And what legal standards and accountabilities should apply to the thousands of ordinary New Zealanders who are not part of the news media but who make use of digital technology and the read/write web to publish and communicate publicly in a variety of mediums?


These are some of the challenging questions the Law Commission considers in its November 2011 Issues Paper: ‘The News Media Meets ???New Media???: rights, responsibilities and regulation in the digital age.’

The paper was prepared in response to a Government request for a review of the legal and regulatory environment in which New Zealand???s news media and other communicators are operating in the digital era.

It is important to stress that this is a preliminary paper designed to garner wide public debate and feedback on the scope of the problem and best solutions. We welcome submissions and comments on the questions and proposals contained in the paper.

Mind those “right & responsibilities.” Apart from noblesse oblige, responsibilities assessed by a third party make rights merely rewards for obedience.

Schneier on Security: "Liars and Outliers"

How has the nature of trust changed in the information age?

These notions of trust and trustworthiness are as old as our species. Many of the specific societal pressures that induce trust are as old as civilisation. Morals and reputational considerations are certainly that old, as are laws. Technical security measures have changed with technology, as well as details around reputational and legal systems, but by and large they’re basically the same.

What has changed in modern society is scale. Today we need to trust more people than ever before, further away ??? whether politically, ethnically or socially ??? than ever before. We need to trust larger corporations, more diverse institutions and more complicated systems. We need to trust via computer networks. This all makes trust, and inducing trust, harder. At the same time, the scaling of technology means that the bad guys can do more damage than ever before. That also makes trust harder. Navigating all of this is one of the most fundamental challenges of our society in this new century.

Given the dangers out there, should we trust anyone? Isn’t “trust no one” the first rule of security?

It might be the first rule of security, but it’s the worst rule of society.

Tree of Life is Far

People describe the movie as spiritual, uplifting, and awe-inspiring. This all fits with our understanding of near vs. far thinking. Far mode is evoked by large space and time scales, smooth textures, small numbers of types, high level goals, moralizing, metaphor, and positive mood. And all these things evoke each other. A vivid near death is about the most negative and intense thing we can experience, and we naturally want to escape that. As the quotes above suggests, ???awe??? is a positive experience of far/big things. In far mode we can experience awe, and gain comfort. It seems to me that if our experience is awesome and comforting enough, we feel we have ???transcended??? our usual concerns, and we call that experience ???spiritual.??? And if we don???t understand the source of this feeling, we call it ???mysterious.??? ;)

Study Shoots Holes In AT&T’s Reasons for Throttling

In a blog post, Validas concludes that throttling isn’t being put in place to curb greedy data hogs, but rather to migrate users of traditional unlimited plans to tiered plans. These plans are far easier for AT&T to manage and don’t pose threats to its network.

Another data point in the constellation confirming that it’s greed, not consumer protection, that underpins this activity.

Q&A: Hacker Historian George Dyson Sits Down With Wired’s Kevin Kelly

Dyson: Turing, as a 23-year-old graduate student, derived the principles of modern computation more or less by accident???as a byproduct of his interest in something called the Entscheidungsproblem, or Decision Problem. It can be stated as: Is there a formula or mechanical process that can decide whether a string of symbols is logically provable or not? Turing???s answer was no. He restated the answer in computational terms by showing that there???s no systematic way to tell in advance what a given code is going to do. You can???t predict how software will behave by inspecting it. The only way you can tell is to actually run it. And this fundamental unpredictability means you can never have a complete digital dictatorship with one government or company controlling our digital lives???not because of politics but because of mathematics. There will always be codes that do unpredictable things. This is why the digital universe will never be a national park; it will always be an undomesticated, unpredictable wilderness. And that should be reassuring to us.

Reassuring, it is.

Supreme Court rules ISPs not subject to broadcast regulations

“An ISP does not engage with these policy objectives when it is merely providing the mode of transmission,” the court ruled as it dismissed the challenge.

“ISPs provide Internet access to end-users. When providing access to the Internet, which is the only function of ISPs placed in issue by the reference question, they take no part in the selection, origination, or packaging of content.”

If the court had decided the Internet providers were broadcasting, they could have been subject to levies in the same way video distributors, such as cable and satellite companies, are charged.

So if an ISP provides content, not merely the mode of transmission, they get hit.  Now would you like to be a common carrier?

PS Vita: Too Much, Too Late

It took touchscreens to blow the genre out of the water, but over the past few years, one thing has become clear: mobile games are different than console games. They operate on a different time-scale, they???re more comfortable with simple narratives than character progressions, and they do small puzzles in consumable chunks better than they do action. They???re played with distractions, they???re played with other people, and they need to be able to be put down and picked up at a moment???s notice.

The incumbent’s dilemma.

Telcos versus OTTs: is it a phoney war?

OTTs are companies such as Facebook, YouTube, Skype, WhatsApp and Netflix, which offer growing and profitable services ???over the top??? of raw Internet

Over the top sounds absolutely right to describe the view that such services are anything distinct, or that there would be a market for “raw Internet” without them.

Everything is OTT on the Internet. This isn’t new, it’s the way it was designed.

How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did

What Target discovered fairly quickly is that it creeped people out that the company knew about their pregnancies in advance.

“If we send someone a catalog and say, ‘Congratulations on your first child!’ and they’ve never told us they’re pregnant, that’s going to make some people uncomfortable,” Pole told me. “We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.

Bold is mine. That’s a quote for our times.