Introduction

Information is increasingly disseminated through telecommunication networks. New technologies such as the Internet and cellular telephones can bring information into and out of regions that in the past were largely cut off from the outside world. Thus our telecommunication networks have the potential to democratize information.

However, there are a number of issues that attend these new technologies. For example, the same technologies that facilitate information sharing can be used to block information sharing or to spread disinformation. In addition, if access to information is to be equalized, the world must address not only the technical issues but also the issue of financing the information-sharing network. Lately there have been efforts by corporate entities to prioritize Internet traffic based on corporate ability to pay. There have also been numerous news stories about government agencies intercepting and viewing or listening to telcommunications—whether personal conversations, file sharing, or accessing Websites.

This course will examine some of the issues related to information dissemination and access via telecommunication networks. In order to discuss these issues, we will look first at the technological infrastructure as well as the political power structures behind the major telecommunication networks. We will talk about the roles of entities such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the design and management of global telecommunication networks. Then we will proceed to talk about the potentials and the conundrums these new (and some not so new) technologies pose in a world of unevenly distributed resources and competing ideologies.

Prerequisites

There are no official prerequisites for this course. However, it will help if you have a basic understanding of HTML and Web page construction.

Note to Communication and Information Sciences Program Students

In years past Communication and Information Sciences Program students who expressed an interest in taking the Communication Policy & Planning examination were advised to take COM 650 (Communication Policy), COM 660 (Communication Planning), and/or LIS 715 (Seminar in Information Policy and Planning). Both COM 650 and LIS 715 have been removed from the UHM Course catalog.

This course is designed to provide CIS students with background knowledge needed for the LIS portion of the Communication Policy & Planning Policy exam.

Selected Topics

Telecommunication Infrastructure and Institutions

Road to an Information Society

Development of the Panopticon Society in the Modern Nation State

The Role of Information Privacy in a Democracy

Case Studies in Electronic Censorship on the National Level

Surveillance and Privacy Protection Laws

The Digital Divide

Making Information Communication Accessible to Persons with Disabilities

Net Neutrality

"Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers may not discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies." (Source: savetheinternet.com )