Smart Cities & Big Data: Where’s the Ethical Framework?

Last week, half a world away, Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Pritzker were engaged in high-level dialogue with political leaders in India.  On the agenda: “smart cities.”

All around the world, cities are often on the forefront of cutting edge policy debates.  While in the U.S., the “laboratories of democracy” are thought of traditionally as states, in fact cities often take the lead.  And in few areas will this be more true than in the civic use of “big data.”  [Read more…]

Cheryl named one of the Top 25 Inspirational and Engaged Leaders

Cheryl Looking Capitol

Cheryl Leanza was recently named one of the Top 25 Inspirational and Engaged Leaders as part of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund, Public Policy Institute and Media & Telecommunications Project Annual Symposium.  Cheryl was honored on November 14, 2013  in Washington DC.

Speaking eloquently in support of justice

Cheryl_prisonphoneworkshopCheryl appeared at a Federal Communications Commission workshop in July on behalf of the United Church of Christ to advocate for just and reasonable rates for inmate calling services.  She was able to combine the moral authority of her client the United Church of Christ, OC Inc. and her communications policy expertise to lay bare the injustice of predatory prison phone rates.  For more about her work on this issue, see the description of her work on prison phones under success storiesVideo of the workshop is available.  Cheryl’s presentation begins at 26:00.

Open Internet: no longer a solution in search of a problem

Internet ImageOver the weekend, the New York Times published a story noting that the second-largest Internet provider in France, called Free, is blocking advertisements as part of its new default settings.  This means that, unless users change the default, its 5.2 million customers will not see any advertisements when they browse the Internet.  Whoa!  While this is largely viewed as a swipe at Google, the real victim is reported to be small web sites that rely on advertising to finance their content.  As one commenter noted, this type of policy means that “smaller sites with only an online presence may close.”  Organizations, like news sites, which support their businesses with advertising are likely to be pressured into paying the ISP so that users can view advertisements.

In the past, critics of net neutrality or open Internet policies have criticized them as a “solution in search of a problem.”  Although it wasn’t a credible critique before, the new ad blocking policy makes it more clear that the problem is on our doorstep.  [Read more…]