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 telcommunicationswhether 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.
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.
Telecommunication Infrastructure and Institutions
- The underlying structure of the Internet
- Institutions that govern or provide standards for transmission of data on the Internet (e.g., Internet Engineering Task Force, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, National Institute of Standards and Technology, International Organization for Standardization, Internet Assigned Numbers Authority)
Road to an Information Society
Development of the Panopticon Society in the Modern Nation State
- The "control revolution" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
- Data acquisition in providing services
- Role of surveillance in law enforcement
The Role of Information Privacy in a Democracy
- For the individual
- For the group
Case Studies in Electronic Censorship on the National Level
- China - Internet censorship at the national level, including the Google dilemma
- Iran - Attempts to block information dissemination via mass media under the Shah (and the ways the populace foiled those attempts), attempts to block information via cell phone and the World Wide Web during the recent post-election protests
- United States - Removal of documents from government Websites by the Bush administration after attack of September 11, 2001
- Turkey - "It has been the biggest crisis in Turkish academia since last year's lifting of the headscarf ban in universities. Last week a portrait of Charles Darwin was taken off the cover of the March issue of the government-backed science magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology) just before it went to press. TBI dotTAK, Turkey's national science funding agency, which publishes the magazine, then sacked its editor, ig brevedem Atakuman. Scientists, assuming censorship, are justifiably outraged and protests are ongoing. ... This row has brought into focus two issues that plague Turkish science. One is political interference in the scientific civil service; the other is high levels of public support for creationism." (Source: Nature 458, 259 (19 March 2009): http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7236/full/458259a.html)
Surveillance and Privacy Protection Laws
- United States (e.g., Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, National Information Infrastructure Protection Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, USA PATRIOT Act)
- European Union privacy laws
The Digital Divide
- Within countries such as the United States
- Between developed and developing nations
Making Information Communication Accessible to Persons with Disabilities
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
"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 )