Class 2

From Identifying Difficult Problems in Cyberlaw
Revision as of 20:19, 20 September 2010 by <bdi></bdi> (talk)
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Group one: -identity revealed beyond your comfort zone (ex. WOW message boards: forced real identity) -can online identity be protected as a possession? Who owns profile pages? -(data portability as a privacy policy like thing)(who owns shared data?)(single-signin)(facebook Connect)(OpenID)(persistent identity online) -cyberbullies, multiple identities online -how/can IRL ethics/morality be imposed in online spaces

  • The Right to Speak Anonymously
    • It would seem that the easiest way to impose IRL ethics/morality in online spaces is to make our online identities tied more closely to our 'real' identities. But at the extreme, with everyone having a single, unique online identity tied to something like Social Security numbers, we would be sacrificing our right to speak and act anonymously online. Is there a happy medium?
    • Then again, it's likely that with cyberbullying, for example, that the kids being bullied know exactly who their antagonists are, meaning that anonymity is not at the heart of the problem. So what is? Is it a lack of consequences? Or consequences that, because they are in 'real' life, are insufficiently tied to their online behavior?
    • What is the effectiveness though of a single, unique online identity?
    • Possible case study: Microsoft's XBOX Live online service
      • Microsoft's XBOX Live services assign users a unique online username that identifies the user across all the games and services offered by XBOX Live. This unified identity allows a user to easily maintain relationships with other users, compare past accomplishments and activities, and effectively establish an online community.
      • From a Lessig framework, Microsoft has used 3 of the 4 regulators to motivate people to become attached to one identity and work hard to preserve its reputation.
        • Norms: Microsoft allows users to rate other users and assign positive and negative feedback. Other users can easily access this information and determine if this is someone they want to associate with. A user's accomplishments and stats from playing games are tied to his unique identity, making it a valuable indicator of skill and status in the online community.
        • Market: In order to acquire an XBOX Live account, a user must pay $60 for a year-long subscription. A subscription only gives a user access to one username and, therefore, one identity. If someone wanted to create another identity or if Microsoft banned a user from XBOX Live, that user would have to pay for another account.
        • Architecture: Microsoft has built in the rating system listed above. As a closed platform, Microsoft also has the ability to ban a user from online activities. This would force the user to purchase another account and would prevent that user from associating himself or herself with past accomplishments and reputation. Given this ominous power, one should be extra careful not to do anything to warrant banning.
        • Laws: nothing outside of normal tort laws
      • Result: this requires more research and testing. However, common wisdom (note: this is from my own personal experience has someone who has played online and has read many opinions about the service) is that communication on XBOX Live is a morass of racist, sexist, and violent comments. Many individuals refuse to communicate online anymore. Despite all of Microsoft's safeguards, there is not an effective deterrant to this type of behavior.

Group two: -property -online things acquiring IRL value -what happens to digital possessions after death? -who has access to your accounts (fb, twit, gmail, etc) after death -(TOS after death) -first sale doctrine in software -first amendment rights with online comms (going through someone’s infrastructure)

Group three: -liability for security breaches (negligent design/management) -wikileaks! (jurisdictional problems, prosecution) (how does filtering affect wikileaks?) -transparency on internet services (google: how does it work?)

Group four: -“to what extent is our judgment about tech related to the “coolness” of the tech itself?”

  • User Satisfaction versus Company Profitability. Closed platforms like the iPhone present significant benefits at a cost. It may be helpful to frame benefits and costs in terms of user satisfaction and company profitability, rather than any particular feature of the device using the platform. We can, of course, ask about particular features that create or diminish user satisfaction or company profitability, but we won't talk about the features as if they confer some independent benefit. This is just a way of conceptualizing when society will tolerate certain technological constraints.
    • The iPhone. Steve Jobs has a vision for the iPhone, and that includes regulating a large portion of what goes on and can go on the phone. Let's take a look at how the user satisfaction/company profitability model applies.
      • Profitability. The iPhone's closed platform provides at least two valuable and related benefits. First, it allows Apple to keep its operating environment "safe." Without unauthorized third-party applications--i.e., with all apps being Apple-approved--there is less risk for the introduction and dissemination of malware. This reduces costs for Apple, which doesn't have to respond to consumers whose phones have been destroyed by viruses. A second related benefit is branding. Because Apple can keep its system closed, it can design the environment in which it operates and market that environment as a product. This design means Apple can extract profits form third-party apps by conditioning access upon, among other things, payment. It also makes the company more profitable because Apple can advertise and promote itself as a "safe" place that operates seamlessly. Nevertheless, this raises issues about how far Apple will regulate its platform. Will it simply condition access by third-party applications, or will it go further and monitor its users. If Jobs is concerned that users will upload pornographic pictures on his phone, will the future iPhone be programmed to identify automatically and remove or block such photos? Does Jobs' vision relate to profitability, or simply personal preference? (This last question will be relevant to considering user satisfaction).
      • User Satisfaction. For most users, the iPhone's closed platform doesn't seem to cause any immediate problems. There are plenty of cool apps that individuals can download and use. The iPhone certainly scores high on aesthetics, even if some of its features are low on performance. Users tend to love aesthetics, and have overlooked the fact that, for instance, the iPhone can run only one program at a time. The closed platform's safety also provides a benefit to users, who don't have to worry about protecting their phones from malware. So far, user satisfaction is high. The balance between user satisfaction and profitability seems to be in equipoise--for now. The question for the future is whether Apple will close off more territory, and whether its current section will stifle the actions of users in the future. As to the former, Apple might meet substantial resistance from the public if it begins regulating their private behavior more explicitly. As to the latter, the future is hard to predict. If users become more adept with their phones or demand new features that the closed systems stifles, Apple may have to modify just 'how' closed its system should be. Of course, it may respond by making even "cooler" design, thereby satisfying users sufficiently to distract attention from the new (or old) restrictions that remain in place. If consumers detect that Jobs personal preferences are dictating the ways they can use their phones, their dissatisfaction may win the day.
    • [Please add another example.]

-online transaction speed: feature or bug? -lack of humans in online transactions: feature or bug? - Computers and people gone wild! (please don’t google this)

- Should everything be open-source?

  • A closed platform means that things can be innovative only within a predetermined limit; that is, we can only work within the realm of the expected (e.g., apps for the iPhone). But some of the greatest innovations have changed the paradigm for innovation completely, the obvious example being the Internet. The cost of closed platforms is that we do not even know what we're missing -- are security and cool apps worth it?
    • Alternatively, if everything were open-source, would we face some variant of the tragedy of the commons? (Tragedy of the commons -- In ye olde England, there was a public commons where everyone could let their cattle graze. But because it was a public space, no one took responsibility for it, so all the grass ran out and the place was a mess. Then the commons was privatized, and lo and behold, private ownership meant that the owner now had an investment and interest in the land, so the land became nice and green again. Even if the owner now charged people to let their cattle graze there. [1]) Or is there something different about the ethos of the Internet, or about cyberspace as a space, that makes the tragedy of the commons a non-issue?