Ethics and law – weeks 4 and 9

  • Investigate and describe (in your blog) an illustrative case of digital divide in your country

Although Digital Divide is a bit more of a social problem, I do have an issue that has arisen due to geographical difference in Estonia. Furthermore, it is an issue that I personally am confronted with. Over the years I have tried out many different internet service providers (ISP) and finally found myself the most reliable one concerning constant speed and availability. Now that I have been using the connection for a number of years, the ISP’s came uot with new and improved connection speeds. The amount needed to pay monthly was very reasonable and I took great interest in the offer. But what turned out, was that I am not eligible for the offers of the companies. The main reason being that I am living in an area where there are no new or large apartement buildings. Therefore the infrastructure will not be updated in my area. When consulting with the ISP on the issue of timeframe or rather, when will the area be getting the necessary improvements, the answer was “possibly within the next four years”. Four years is a lifetime in the development of digital technology. So I am left with two options, to buy an apartment in a new building somewhere, whitch I am not going to do, or switch to an ISP that is inferior in my mind.

  • Analyse and describe (in your blog) Internet availability in your country. How big is the availability difference for urban and rural regions? Do you consider this a problem?

Nowadays, internet availability has no limitations or restrictions in Estonia. Mainly because of the development of WIFI areas EVERYWHERE and also the “attack” of dongles. Using a dongle is quite cheap in estonia and thanks to a relatively good range of 3,5G networks one is able to connect to the internet everywhere. There is always the issue of the connection speed, but that is mainly down to technology. To look at the availability of internet services to people without access to a PC or a personal laptop, I think we are improving. For example, a computer can be accessed for free in many large libraries. There isnt a large number of internet cafes around and the main reason being that everyone who has the necessity to use internet at a public location already has a portable device available, may it be a phone or a laptop.

  • For Estonians: compare the current situation in Estonia to the four scenarios of “Estonia 2010”. Which one is the closest to the reality?
  • Looking at the four possibilities, I do see a strong resemblance to the final one, which is “Grand Slam” – the best realisation of both geographical location (transit) and innovative and educational potential. “Innovation/ICT Estonia”. Transit has been our bread for a long time and we cannot argue with the innovation part. Although the amount of transit has declined in the past years because of certain “monumental” issues, it is bound to pick up again. Also we have the educational potential, but thusfar it has not been realised and needs some very long steps to be taken, in order to bring it up to standards.

  • How important do you deem the social cohesiveness (or caring) in reaching ubicomp?
  • I do see it as an important part. Firstly the connection needs to be established between the participants and therefore better results can be produced. Secondly trust, which is very important in providing security and movement of relevant information as well as the legality and legislation concerning it.

    • Study the GNU GPL and write a short blog essay about it. You may use the SWOT analysis model (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).

    As a strength I would bring out the difference between providing rights rather than issuing restrictions concerning the use of software. Proprietary software allows the user to perform certain tasks with it, but providing rights to do something, as the GNU GPL states. It allows users to act out and modify the software according to their needs. Also the GPL license provides the opportunity to benefit from the enhancements of the community of users. The rights have to remain the same when publishing a new and improved version of the software. The beneficial side includes the opportunity for use of the software with significant savings compared to proprietary software. It is indeed a two sided coin when looking at the reliability of proprietary and GPL licenced software, but if a community using the software is up to standards, the reliability will increase significantly.

    As a con, I would bring out the intuitive thinking towards “free software”. If something is free, it cannot be a trustworthy and reliable product. Therefor the acceptance and trust in a software might be cold. A threat might lie in the use of the software because of the deficiencies that lie within the code. If it is supposed to be free and support for the software is commercialized than it loses the point of owning the software. One might as well go with the proprietary one and use the support included within the price of the product. And when paying for the product, it seems logical that you get what you pay for. So the support and enhancements are there and will keep coming.

    • Find a good example of the “science business” described above and analyse it as a potential factor in the Digital Divide discussed earlier. Is the proposed connection likely or not? Blog your opinion.

    I would bring out the accessibility of different scientific works and papers that one might need or want to read in order to better their studies. I have encountered the issue quite often. When searching for relevant scientific articles on one subject you always come across the relevant information that is the foreword for an article. But in order to be able to read the article, one must pay a number of mostly dollars to get a piece of information. Furthermore the article might be a bit different than you expected and not contain the various facts that you were looking for. So by paying 5 dollars an article for example might become a hefty sum after finishing one research paper. The digital divide is here also, because if you do not have the means to access the material, you have to use information that is mostly five of more years old and that can affect the outcome of the product a lot.

    Ethics and Law – week 11 : Free software vs. Open source

    • Analyse both free software and open source approach in your blog. If you prefer one, provide your arguments.

    Firstly I would like to point out that in my mind, neither of these programmes as such, benefit the common user in a sufficient way. If a choice has to be made, I would go towards a free software solution. It is a fairly ineffective way to create a program in a proprietary world, but it has the possibility of evolution, that we do not get from an Open Source software (OSS) or a proprietary one. By that thought, I mean that one person has the opportunity to be beneficial for other users of the program, by providing and programming solutions to improve it. There are, of course, ways to help and improve proprietary programs also, but the final requisition of those changes is still in the hands of the original creators and might have a very long „wait“ attached to them. Open source software in a sense is beneficial for people, who have the knowledge to read and understand the information that is provided, but when certain rights protect the source code to be used, it kind of loses the point. Unless one is able to use the code to develope a thought of his/her own , without just copying it. But overall, I see the usage of free software mainly in small circles, or when the software itself isn’t vast.

    Ethics and law in New Media – Week 10

    • What could the software licensing landscape look like in 2015? Write a short (blogged) predictive analysis.
    • Write a short analysis about applicability of copying restrictions – whether you consider them useful, in which cases exceptions should be made etc.

    The main perspective seems to go along the line of commercial proprietary software. The steps taken in that field to fight and overcome the impetuous piracy and misuse of proprietary software are different and often cripple the software itself. I see this as the only real way to fight the use of pirated software. Although the WGA recieved a lot of opposition, it was indeed a valid and easy way to check the validity of licenses (also easily avoided if wanted). But since we do believe in, and want to uphold the privacy of our computer devices and software, that we use, the way of controlling the legality of different software is quite hard and limited. Still, as the proprietary software is made, keeping in ming the ease and beauty of use, it will remain the main way in the software industry. I am not arguing or putting one above the other, but freeware and software do not have the ease of use to them, to be able to appeal to masses just yet(unfortunately). In the recent times it has become easier to obtain and share software without actually having to go through the licensing affair and that also for the „noobs“ (torrent, P2P, Rapidshare etc.). It is as easy as copy-pasting and in some occasions the actual user of the software might not be aware of the licensing fees while using the software. It is unlikely but it can happen, I’m sure.

    To sum up, I see the future with many different crippleware programs, and as some examples show, online confirmation requirements often make it too much of a hassle for end users to use pirated software. Although the free for all approach is a good thought also, I do not see it breaking through, when we have good working software available at quite a reasonable price(depends on the pouch size of course).

    Ethics and Law – Week 8

    Study the Anglo-American and Continental European school of intellectual property (IP). Write a short comparative analysis to your blog (if you have clear preference for one over another, explain that, too).

    As stated in the material, the exclusive rights allow owners of intellectual property to benefit from the property they have created, providing a financial incentive for the creation of and investment in intellectual property, and, in case of patents, pay associated research and development costs and also the existence of IP laws is credited with significant contributions toward economic growth.

    To keep that in mind, many international treaties and acts have been compiled to regulate the IP rights between and within countries:

    The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, first accepted in Berne, Switzerland in 1886

    The Universal Copyright Convention (or UCC), adopted at Geneva in 1952

    The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, administered by the World Trade Organization, negotiated in 1994.

    As stated in the material the Anglo-American way of looking at the protection and preservation of IP (e.g. in the US) is quite copyright based. United States copyright law governs the legally enforceable rights of creative and artistic works under the laws of the United States. Copyright law in the United States is part of federal law, and is authorized by the U.S. Constitution. The power to enact copyright law is granted in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, also known as the Copyright Clause, which states:

    The Congress shall have Power [. . .] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    This clause forms the basis for U.S. copyright law and patent law, and includes the limited terms allowed for copyrights and patents, as well as the items they may protect. According to the U.S. copyright law, works created in or after 1978 are granted copyright protection for a term ending 70 years after the death of the author.

    The European side has bit different approach. The Berne Convention is also applied here but the actual time of copyright and patents vary a lot, depending on the various legislations of different countries. The convention states that all works except photographic and cinematographic shall be copyrighted for at least 50 years after the author’s death, but parties are free to provide longer terms. The European Union has had a lot to do with these exceptions.

    Although the Berne Convention states that the copyright law of the country where copyright is claimed shall be applied, article 7.8 states that “unless the legislation of that country otherwise provides, the term shall not exceed the term fixed in the country of origin of the work”.

    To sum up, I do like the application of one, coherent law that is the same everywhere. That aside, there are different situations that need different approaches. So the European way is a bit more versatile. But, and there is a “but”, if certain countries start to use the changes and differences in their legislation in a way that starts to gouge the international law and treaties, which they do, then the American way would be a bit better to go by.

    Ethics and Law – Week 6

    Find and blog about an illustrative case of hacktivism:

    I located information about a group called Electrohippies who also used a nowadays well-known aspect of cyber space which is called denial-of-service (DOS) action.

    Quote: The Electrohippies Collective (Ehippies) is an international group of internet activists based in Oxfordshire, England, whose purpose is to express disapproval of governmental policies of mass media censorship and control of the Internet “in order to provide a ‘safe environment’ for corporations to do their deals.”

    The first step they took in order to fight for their cause was in 1999, in Seattle and against the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Thousands of people gathered to disrupt the World Trade Organisation conference by preventing delegates from entering the conference venue. Simultaneously, an online direct protest was run by The Electrohippies Collective. The Ehippies claimed success for the action, saying 450,000 people participated over 5 days, resulting in the WTO conference network being constantly slowed and periodically brought to a halt.

    The same tactic has been used since then and by many different groups. Also the variety of institutions attacked have changed. The 2007 estonian case stated well enough that when certain groups or movements make their goal to attack certain institutions, they no longer look at the relation between the institution and the situation. I mean that before, it was an attack towards a certain institution, but now the hacktivists target whatever institutions they can cripple or paralyze, no matter the relevance(in the estonian case it was just the country which was the same).  

    Blog about a good case of social engineering:

    There was a case in Estonia a couple of years ago, which was more like a scam. Hotels and guesthouses recieved e-mails concerning a reservation for a larger group. Also a verified bank statement was sent within the e-mail and the institution was asked to return the extra amount in the letter. Unfortunately some of the institution workers did return the amounts before checking if the amount had reached their bank accounts and through that got scammed.

    But a more relevant case was this summer which also received some media attention. A lot of people recieved e-mails from someone called Scott E. Guggenheim, an against poverty programme coordinator in the World Bank. People were told that they had been given 550 000 dollars which are held in the Malaisian branch of the bank. And all that is needed, is the transfer sequrity fee which was a bit less than 200 dollars. The sender also requests for the full name, home address, mobile phone number and a copy of his/her passport or ID card. There is unfortunately very little information on the success of that letter but as history has shown, it is not uncommon for people to believe and address these letters.

    Formulate some measures which can reduce the effectiveness of social engineering attempts:

    Firstly I would point out that very little information is given to users who are not so “at home” with computers. If a novice user sees a link with his/her friends name on the screen which says that check out my new pictures, they automatically think it is ok. So the main part would be to inform the users and take away the “want” to press everything that is interesting on the web. Also some distrust should be injected into the users. People seem to be very gullible when it comes to some information on the web. Sometimes even checking from a friend, if they asked for some information or sent an email like that, seems like too much to do and that is where/when the issues  arise.

    Software check – CyberPatrol 7.7

    I chose to try out the market leading software CyberPatrol v7.7. I suppose if so many people are using the product, it might be a good one. 

    The first thing I noticed was that it takes longer to load webpages. It seems to have a bit of trouble resolving estonian webpages(actual delay is around 1-3 seconds). Although second time around the loading times are shorter, so it seems to memorize some addresses or at least it seems so.

    There are no issues opening regular and popular webpages except for the short delay mentioned earlier. To bring out, the settings were set to user level “Child”.

    Any words concerning sexuality, sexual orientation or even the word “sex” itself written in the google search bar comes up with an error. And the same situation is with a wellknown english word for happy. But also the program provides a way to “Instant Override” the block by entering a password, which is convenient in a way.

    Actually one cannot do anything online. Just look at the regular news/games/social pages and that is it. I even tried to search for information concerning a band “Judas Priest” and that is banned for children also 🙂 Interesting..

    As an add-on there are different settings to prevent users from certain programs and one can also impose a timeframe to allow the usage of programs and web.

    Altogether a “Nice” way to keep the users from certain information but still a bit glitchy. And when you are a user who is used to go whereever, you will get annoyed quickly. So it seems to be working 🙂

    Ethics and Law – week 2

    Nonmarket production..

    For example in the field of advertising, I do not see the applicability of nonmarket production whatsoever. The mindstate of today’s professionals and market leaders is a lot different to the state needed. The only production that is nonproprietary in this field is coming from non-professionals(students, enthusiasts). Otherwise when you are already working in the field, your goals and opinions change and profit is the first thing on your mind.

    .. pessimistic all the way ..

    Ethics and Law

    Theobald and the mindquake:

    I am not quite sure if this situation applies but I do see it as adaptable in the same situation. I am thinking about the prohibition of alcohol sales in our country. Dont understand me wrong, I do think that it was a necessary attribute to prevent further issues concerning the unlimited availability of alcohol, day and night. And furthermore, I see it as a failure in adapting the mindquake question.

    The whole project was undertaken with good intentions in mind but the way the ban was applied was unexpected and did not bare in mind the people. With extreme determination the ban was imposed on different areas and municipalities. Without notification or discussion the order of thing was changed for the common people. And since the taste of soviet way of deciding and doing things was still fresh in our minds and memories, the step was often considered to be offensive and unjust.

    Although it was reverted a number of times in different areas and than imposed as a national regulation, the way of getting to that point of consensus was erratic.

    So to sum up, I believe that there are a lot of different processes to point out as considerate towards the mindquake question, but most of them are still far from it.

    One of Handy’s paradoxes:

    The paradox of productivity. At the organizational level, productivity improvement means more work from fewer people. At the social level, more people become inactive or enter the underground economy. The result is organizations become more productive and society less so.

    In my mind a good example was the case of Estonian National Opera. While in the summer period a number of improvements were done within the building itself concerning the sequrity systems etc. The amount spent on these improvements was somewhat under the magic number of 1 million EEK. After all, improving services and reducing the whole price of upkeep in a massive structure like an opera house is all for the best but not concidering the people that were laid off in the process.

     The outcome is that people who may only have the skills and knowledge to be efficient in that current sphere are now left to be taken care of by the community and of course the funding for that comes from the same place from which it came for the national opera. 

    So what do we have left? A functioning institution and a rise in social unemployment.

    One of Castell’s features of network society: the transformation of work and employment (the flexi-workers) is a phenomenon that is indeed occuring in various forms. I do not believe that unemployment has had a massive impact on it before and also during the recent recession, in the sence of working hours at least. Although there is a definite trend towards individualism concerning the working arrangements and contracts, it is more because of the oppotunity and welfare of the workers. If there is a possibility to include more in a day by being flexible and providing the playroom within the working hours than why not allow it to happen. I would not go as far as saying that it is mostly concerning female workforce. The opportunities are provided to both sides and probably because of the liberal and equal society norms that are so carefully followed and protected.