CCTP-761 The Digital Divide
Fr. Eric Zimmer
Nearly any commentary on the development of the Internet includes concerns about those individuals and groups that may be left behind. These concerns about a “Digital Divide” have resulted in numerous studies of this phenomenon and its impact on U.S. and world cultures. Is there a Digital Divide? Some scholars argue that this pattern stems from the phenomenon of diffusion of technologies through any given social system. This course will address these topics in light of the diffusion of the Internet and other technologies.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '11: MacCarthy, M (description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
CCTP-761-01 Global Internet Freedom
Spring for 2010-2011
The purpose of this course is to understand the policy issues surrounding the notion of free and open communications on the Internet. Following the recent dispute between Google and China over a hacking incident and required filtering of search engine results, the U.S. State Department elevated Internet freedom to a major foreign policy initiative. At one level Internet freedom seems to be a universal value: connectivity is good and more connectivity is better. But the issues involved are more complex. They go beyond free speech and expression and touch on the fundamental question of Internet governance. We will approach Internet freedom through the lens of Internet intermediary liability: that is, the extent to which Internet actors such as search engines, access providers, payment systems, web hosting companies, auction sites have responsibilities for the actions of those who use their systems. China places heavy “indirect liability” responsibilities on its domestic Internet actors for supervising and controlling the actions of those who use their systems, and applies similar rules to international companies acting within its borders. The United States and most other nations also place certain indirect responsibilities on Internet actors. We will outline the major policy alternatives: Internet exceptionalism, which is the view that nation states should largely exempt Internet actors from liabilities in this area; a bordered Internet approach which endorses indirect liability for Internet actors on a national basis; and internationalism, which encourages nation states to develop a harmonized approach to regulation of Internet intermediaries. We will examine how intermediary liability works in several areas including the notice and take down and graduated response requirements for copyright and trademark infringement, the duty of intermediaries to cooperate with government on national security issues, and intermediary responsibilities for child protection. With this background, we will then examine several specific policies related to open Internet communications including the development of best practices through coalitions such as the Global Network Initiative, the Global Online Freedom Act, which would require U.S. Internet companies to withdraw from countries practicing Internet censorship, and the promotion of open connectivity through U.S. government provision of technology to evade attempts to filter Internet content. There will be several guest lectures by U.S. State Department officials, civil liberties groups and Internet intermediaries.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: