Posts Tagged ‘infrastructure’

The private sector battle over SOPA (me in Al Jazeera)

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Following yesterday’s demonstrations against U.S. Congressional legislation that could severely constrict free speech and online innovation, I argue in Al Jazeera English that private interests in internet policy are here to stay.

It would have been the most expensive political ad buy in the history of the world. Google’s search engine, the most visited website in the world, displays a black block over its logo. Wikipedia, the sixth most visited site globally, has disabled its English-language service. This unprecedented action to oppose legislation under consideration in the US Congress signals the importance of the private sector in Internet policy – and it won’t stop here.

Private companies are almost entirely responsible for your ability to read this article. The text travelled through a purchased operating system, over an enterprise office network, through privately-owned wires and fibre optic cables, and finally reached the privately-run “cloud” service in which it was composed. If you’re overseas from Al Jazeera’s servers, the message also travelled through privately-owned undersea cables-the bedrock of international communication and finance.

Many experts, including Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard and the leaders of the MIT Media Lab, have described in detail the threat to free speech, innovation, and the technology business posed by the legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate. Most people, however, learned of the controversy through today’s online demonstrations, in which the online goliaths of our day have filled the picket lines.

Read the rest at Al Jazeera English.

Osrzag: Old computers lead to government inefficiency

Friday, January 15th, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed a meeting in April with leaders of technology companies to discuss how to improve the government’s information technology infrastructure. From The Hill‘s Hillicon Valley blog:

“Twenty years ago, people who came to work in the federal government had better technology at work than at home,” said [Peter] Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget. “Now that’s no longer the case.

“The American people deserve better service from their government, and better return for their tax dollars.”

The White House release that included Orszag’s comments said one “specific source” of ineffective and inefficient government is the huge technology gap between the public and private sectors that results in billions of dollars in waste, slow and inadequate customer service and a lack of transparency about how dollars are spent.

This doesn’t mean the public will necessarily see the physical results of any upgrade. The inefficiency is seen as within the government, rather than in the government’s interactions with citizens.

“Improving the technology our government uses isn’t about having the fanciest bells and whistles on our websites — it’s about how we use the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars to make government work better for them,” Obama said in a statement.