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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Internet Privacy, Digital Economy Bill, Copy Fright and Dirty Fights: It’s Only Business.

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

It is clearly becoming a trend for major countries to start putting their foot down on just what will and won’t fly over the Internet (so to speak) in their countries. One may be forgiven for thinking that the media are only focused reporting such “interestingly” bad news. But why not, after all bad news sells better than good, and in showbiz, all publicity is good publicity anyway. Right?

Below are some examples of major recent developments that serve to highlight this state of affairs:

1. Italy vs. the Internet (via the Google Three) –  Last month, three senior Google execs were handed prison sentences by an Italian Judge for ‘violation of privacy’, as reported here on the Guardian’s website. As might be expected this incredible turn of events has raised concerns, among the global Internet community, that it threatens a fundamental principle that enables openness of the Internet. Furthermore, in a Huffington Post article, Lawrence Lessig, makes a strong case that to the Italian Parliament that Internet video services should not be governed by the exact same rules as broadcast media (e.g. TV), for the very simple and obvious reason that they are entirely different beasts. Duh!

2. Google, (Again) vs. China – Last week BBC News reported that Google will face consequences if it refuses to comply with Chinese censorship laws. In other words, either play by our rules or get out of China, the choice is yours.

3. Digital Economy Bill – This ongoing saga has created real debate among many people in the UK, as our politicians get to grips with trying to govern the Internet and make serious attempts to control its impact on the UK economy. Hmm, I wish them the best of luck, but as wiser heads have implored (including the BCS), this is not something to be rushed into law without necessary, proper and additional, nay extraordinary, due diligence.

In light of the above, there appears to be an almighty struggle brewing between major nations and the global Internet over just how their citizens may use / access the Internet, (and its myriad applications and service providers), with said citizens and service providers caught squarely in the middle. It looks like a battle between self determination and freedom of expression (with instruments like the safe harbour principle) on the one hand, versus Realpolitiks and commercial interests (possibly in the guise of social responsibility and sovereignty) on the other.

At the end, it may all just be a futile gesture , because to my mind, one key problem faced by those trying to lock down access and usage of the internet is that, as a communication channel, the Internet is fertile breeding ground for emergent information and content creation, remix and consumption practices that are hard to predict, never mind controlling it. How can anyone hope to control what is essentially unpredictable? Plus it doesn’t help that, as observed here by my fellow blogger, many people now desire to have access to the Internet as a basic human right to communicate!

Furthermore, I defy any industry to prove conclusively that the Internet, and casual piracy of digital content for that matter, is the root cause of their economic woes. For those that try, it may be tantamount to pointing out their incompetence in adapting to change, or even a cynical ploy to generate sympathy (perhaps in order to hide said incompetence). I just call it showbiz or film trickery.  But is it really all showbiz, or are certain industries and businesses really badly affected as they make out? It can be very hard to tell these days, especially as it seems that even the music industry is far from dead!

I would venture as far as to say that this not all bad news, and is in fact more like growing pains, indicative of the fact that traditional industries and nations are finally adjusting (albeit not without a fight) to the challenges of a new paradigm of business and global citizenship fostered by digital technology and the Internet. At the very least, this demands fundamental changes to much of our current ways of thinking.

PS. One final thought for the weekend – are major governments running scared at the spectre of Internet companies like Google becoming a major world power? Stranger things have been known to happen.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

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Crunch IT – The Role of IT in a Recession

March 30, 2009 Leave a comment

This was the title of an event that I helped organize for my British Computer Society (BCS) branch last week in Central London, and which, as perhaps might be expected given the current economic climate, generated a fair amount of interest and suggestions from the excellent speakers and a highly vocal audience (see event flyer). However, it also left me wondering if there really was much that IT could do, on its own, to bring about any sort of lasting change to the current economic situation; especially in light of the fact that IT was not directly responsible for the recession in the first place (Ok, IT may have played a role in the dot com bubble / crash, but the Financial Services industry is probably the main culprit this time around -not pointing any fingers).

Anyway, this event covered, among other things, the following points and perspectives from the speakers:

  • Crunch Insulators – Kenny MacIver, Editor of Information Age, gave an overview of some of the more effective strategies in the IT industry e.g.: Unified IP Network Architectures, Virtualisation (Servers and Storage), and Remote / Mobile Working. Key Message – Simple cost cutting without innovation will not, *ahem*, cut it in this recession
  • IT Governance – Sue Milton, Vice President of ISACA, pointed out that short term savings (e.g IT cost cutting and staff redundancies) may not be in the long term interests of most organizations. Key message – valuable and highly-skilled staff lost to cost cutting will be in demand again at the first sign of a recovery
  • Risk Assurance – Graeme Fleming, Senior Manager at PWC, focused on the IT Risk Landscape, and greater dependence on the efficient use of IT, particularly in a downturn. Key Message – focus on projects (rationalisation), Information Security Risk and better controls for Outsourcing
  • China’s Opening – Ting Zhang and Dr. Paul Irwin Crookes, from China Business Solutions, discussed the major opportunities and challenges posed by China to the global software industry. Key Message – you’ll need an effective strategy to engage with a resurgent Chinese market, and it’s renewed focus / investment in technology and innovation.

For me, the overall message was that there is no real indication of if / when we might expect to see an end to this current recession, therefore IT and related industries must learn to adapt and cope with an increasingly challenging landscape, whilst delivering critical benefits to their internal and external clients. It makes me wonder if a protracted global recession will also bring about a fundamental change in the engagement models used by existing (or surviving) technology advisory and consulting organizations. For example, are we likely to see an increase in joint ventures, and risk-reward-partnerships, between advisors and client, as opposed to the relatively more straightforward fees-on-delivery type models that currently dominate our business?

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog.  You can see the original post, including comments, at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2009/03/crunch_it_the_role_of_it_in_a.php

DRM at the Olympics and other possible signs of progress

July 18, 2008 Leave a comment

Certain unrelated recent developments (e.g. DRM at the Olympics, Ad-supported Pirate Videos, and potential ISP Music Download services) appear to show, what might be described as, positive progress towards embracing the evolving digital content economy. Hope springs eternal.

These notable developments, in three continents no less, include:

USA: Media Companies choose to profit from pirated YouTube Video Clips. The title says it all, and the article, from the New York Times, demonstrates how some major content companies are trying to explore other ways of making advertising lemonade from copyright infringement lemons.

UK: Possible ISP backed Flat Fee Music Deal. Although this appears to have turned into a damp squib, (albeit with publicity upside for the likes of PlayLouder and Virgin Broadband), the fact that the proposition of a flat-fee, all-you-can-eat, P2P based music sharing service supported by a major ISP could gain so much traction / buzz in the blogosphere effectively demonstrates a potential opportunity, worthy of further exploration, for the music labels and ISPs (off the back of their recent agreement).

China: Free Music / Protect Video – Perhaps as befitting a nation with the world’s eyes on it, there are two developments worthy of mention here:

  1. Google launches free music download service in China – This was announced in February, and will enable Google users in China to search and download DRM-free songs. Although the advert based revenue is to be split between Google / the music labels / hosting service provider, some analysts still wonder if the major music labels ought to be worried.
  2. DRM at the Beijing Olympics. According to this recent DRMWatch article, China’s CCTV has chosen SafeNet’s OMA 2.0 DRM for protecting Internet video coverage of the Beijing Olympics. Ok, so there’s that dreaded three letter acronym again, but this is arguably a good example of the appropriate use of DRM technology for valuable, time sensitive, content.

In conclusion, the above are just some examples of steady progress towards embracing the changes, challenges and opportunities offered by the evolving digital content landscape. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow there might even be a severe outbreak of world peace. As said before, hope springs internal (sic).

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.