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Topic B: Privacy and Property in Social Networking and Freeware Age

How can one protect privacy in a world where people display and are encouraged to display their lives online? How can one even define property when todays most lucrative and quickly expanding businesses are based on technology that is freely available to everyone? Our goal will be to deal with these issues and explore how the conceptual framework of society is slowly but surely being altered by the true realization of the Digital Age and the rise of the Internet in our daily lives. We will discuss the role of governments and governing bodies in this new era that we live in, and what type of regulation, if any, would be optimal in such a world. After all, those working on the World Wide Web saw it as the last bastion of freedom for all is this the correct answer for society, and if so, does that preclude governmental intervention in any way? Indeed, organizations such as the Global Internet Freedom Consortium have met to discuss these very issues, and governmental censorship of the Web has been steadily decreasing throughout the world.

The following case study is about allegations made by the U.S government against Megaupload , a freeware site. The case filed against Megaupload was discussed in UNESCO conferences. The fact that UNESCO held its International Conference: Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation in Vancouver (Canada), Sept. 26 28, 2012 was one of the many snippets of information that Luciana Duranti, Chair and Professor at the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, passed on during her talk on Thursday, May 17, 2012 in Vancouver. Organized by ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada), Durantis talk Trust and Authenticity in the Digital Environment: An

Increasingly Cloudy Issue, first delved into definitions of trust, authenticity and cloud computing before focusing on the issues presented by storing our data on the cloud. As Duranti noted, this is a return, of sorts, to the 60s and its mainframe environment. However, unlike the 60s our data is not stored on one server; it may be split amongst many servers in many countries making our data quite vulnerable. For example, different laws in different countries mean you can lose data if the legal situation changes as it did in the US recently. According to Duranti, one of Megauploads servers has been shut down in the state of Virginia because of a problem with data from one business. Unfortunately, all of the data held there was also destroyed. On investigating this further ,a more general discussion of the situation with Megaupload on Techdirt was found which highlights law professor Eric Goldmans extraordinary indictment of the governments action in his April 20, 2012 posting, excerpt of 2nd point, Taking Megaupload offline. Megauploads website is analogous to a printing press that constantly published new content. Under our Constitution, the government cant simply shut down a printing press, but thats basically what our government did when it turned Megaupload off and seized all of the assets. Not surprisingly, shutting down a printing press suppresses countless legitimate content publications by legitimate users of Megaupload. Surprisingly (shockingly, even), the government apparently doesnt care about this collateral, entirely foreseeable and deeply unconstitutional effect. The governments further insistence that all user data, even legitimate data, should be destroyed is even more shocking. Destroying the evidence not only screws over the legitimate users, but it may make it impossible for Megaupload to mount a proper defense. Its depressing our government isnt above such cheap tricks in its zeal to win. The more we hear and see about the governments case against Megaupload, it really appears that the government was relying almost entirely on the fact that Megaupload looked bad. Its hard to deny that there were plenty of things that Kim (in particular) [CEO Kim Dotcom] did that makes him appear pretty obnoxious. But being a crass showoff doesnt automatically make you a criminal. The Jan. 19, 2012 article by Nate Anderson for Ars Technica seems more sympathetic to the governments position, initially, The US government dropped a nuclear bomb on cyberlocker site Megaupload today, seizing its domain names, grabbing $50 million in assets, and getting New Zealand police to arrest four of the sites key employees, including enigmatic founder Kim Dotcom. In a 72-page indictment unsealed in a Virginia federal court, prosecutors charged that the site earned more than $175 million since its founding in 2005, most of it based on copyright infringement.

As for the sites employees, they were paid lavishly and they spent lavishly. Even the graphic designer, 35-year-old Slovakian resident Julius Bencko, made more than $1 million in 2010 alone. The indictment goes after six individuals, who between them owned 14 Mercedes-Benz automobiles with license plates such as POLICE, MAFIA, V, STONED, CEO, HACKER, GOOD, EVIL, andperhaps prescientlyGUILTY. The group also had a 2010 Maserati, a 2008 Rolls-Royce, and a 1989 Lamborghini. They had not one but three Samsung 83 TVs, and two Sharp 108 TVs. Someone owned a Predator statue. Yet the indictment seems odd in some ways. When Viacom made many of the same charges against YouTube, it didnt go to the government and try to get Eric Schmidt or Chad Hurley arrested. Anderson mentions that Megaupload had 525 servers in Virginia state and many more around the world. (Im not sure why Duranti stated that one server had been shut down in Virginia but perhaps she was using it as an example to demonstrate what happens when just one server is shut down.) Regardless of whether its one server or 525 , Im with Eric Goldman when he points out that destroying legitimate data is shocking. Durantis talk was illuminating and I look forward to hearing more about these issues when the UNESCO conference takes place here in Vancouver next September. From the conference news webpage, Digital information has economic value as a cultural product and as a source of knowledge. It plays a major role in national sustainable development as, increasingly, personal, governmental and commercial information is created in digital form only. But digitized national assets also constitute an immense wealth of the countries concerned and of society at large. The disappearance of this heritage will engender economic and cultural impoverishment and hamper the advancement of knowledge. Ensuring digital continuity of content can only be overcome if a range of legal, technological, social, financial, political and other obstacles are addressed. The Vancouver Conference therefore seeks to achieve: the launch of specific initiatives related to digital preservation and to the fostering of access to documentary heritage through digitization; the revision of the UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage; the identification of the legal frameworks and solutions to facilitate long-term digital preservation; the agreement on the promotion and/or development of exchange standards;

the definition of the respective roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and elaboration of a cooperation model.

Free flow of information and social networks: a role for democracy and social participation.
This topic was discussed in a UNESCO workshop in favour of social networking sites. The workshop discussed the important role of social networks in promoting democracy and social participation, and explored how to strengthen this role by fostering free flow of information on Internet. In recent social movements, social networks have become mass communication tools and vehicles for mobilization. Social appropriation of the Internet is becoming a significant part of democratization processes. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are being widely used by activists and citizens to relay information that is not always accessible through traditional Media, and to also bypass censorship. It seems that the emergence of new technologies has formed a new arena for public debate. The phenomenon also presents a new and innovative way to allocate talent, unite aspirations, spur immediate and mass mobilization, and effect change on a grand scale. Strengthening the link between the Internet and social participation seems a more and more essential condition to ensure the vitality of democracy. There is a need to reflect further on this phenomenon. This workshop aimed to examine the important role of social networks in promoting democracy and social participation, and explored how to strengthen this role by fostering free flow of information on Internet. Furthermore, the workshop triggered debate on a series of burning issues including:

How to reinforce the democratic participation via the social networks? How to strengthen the democratic processes that have occurred in the cyberspace after the crisis and make the transition a participatory process? How to best protect freedom of expression and free flow of information without compromising other human rights?

UNESCOs stance on social networking and freeware sites is still under debate. Indeed, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and freeware sites like Megaupload, have played an important role in making our world more mobile and globally active, however, they do need to be regulated and controlled in order to protect the privacy and property of people all over the world. This issue should further be discussed; to what extent should such websites be regulated and controlled? Should UNESCO turn give them a free hand to whatever they do or should be shut down completely? What laws can UNESCO introduce in order to protect the right to privacy of people all over the world while fully utilizing the benefits of social networking and freeware sites and helping the world develop further through this digital age?

The following sites can further help you to research.