The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.
The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication and “things,” in the IoT sense, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist firefighters in search and rescue operations. These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices and the real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it.
Cloud-based applications are the key to using leveraged data. The Internet of Things doesn’t function without cloud-based applications to interpret and transmit the data coming from all these sensors. The cloud is what enables the apps to go to work for you anytime, anywhere.
The internet is a space which records all the data that ever crosses it and creates a form of data aggregation. Due to the heavy reliance on the internet, it is without surprise the amount of personal information which is stored online and with this information allowing people to access money and information mixed with the human emotion of greed, the notion of cybercrime is ominous. Despite the negative connotations, not all hackers have criminal intentions although the act of hacking itself is illegal.
A prime example of this is in the group LulzSec – a contraction of “lulz”, for laughs, and “security”, which is what hackers like to compromise. They targets organisations such as Fox and U.S. broadcaster PBS, where they planted a fake story saying the dead rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were in fact alive and living in New Zealand. Later they hacked into games companies including Nintendo (though without success) and Sony’s PlayStation Network, stealing 24.6 million customers’ private data, and leading the company to take the network offline for days. They thought of themselves as “latter-day pirates” and boasted they were “gods” when they attacked a site.
LulzSec’s members never met in the real world; they were unaware of each other’s identities. Some were based in the US, and some in the UK, pointing to the way that hacking too has become globalised. Their intention, the court heard after some members were arrested, was just to gain attention, embarrass website owners and ridicule security measures. But by putting private information such as credit card details online, the group caused problems that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to fix.
Hacktivists are people who are mainly recognized for pursuing online attacks as a form of non-violent protest and often hack for a political reason. With increased technology, anybody can learn how to hack and be a hacktivist at home.
A whistle blower is “a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, dishonest, or not correct within an organization. The information of alleged wrongdoing can be classified in many ways: violation of company policy/rules, law, regulation, or threat to public interest/national security, as well as fraud, and corruption.”
Information is valuable and so the protection or access of it is highly contentious. An example of this is is government wanting to keep documents classified v.s. freedom fighters who believe that the public have the right to political transparency. Some people believe that information should not be confidential so as an outcome we have hacktivists like Julian Assange and whistle blowers like Edward Snowden.
WikiLeaks is an international journalistic organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources. Its website which was founded in 2006, claimed a database of more than 1.2 million documents within a year of its launch. Julian Assange is an Australian Internet activist who is considered as its founder. The site leaked much information surrounding the Afghanistan war, a report informing a corruption investigation in Kenya, U.S. political and diplomatic files and many more which often made headlines in media. Whilst the intentions behind these are to make the government’s actions transparent amongst its citizens, it gives rise to issues regarding safety.
Social networks are heavily integrated into everyday life and are a communication tool in which society heavily relies on. Whilst people can overlook this, they are a vital tool for connectivity during times of crisis as they relay information all across the globe.
Social networks and mobile technologies have accelerated the rate at which relationships develop, information is shared and influence takes hold. Facebook has allowed us new ways to communicate and collaborate through features such as news feeds, profiles, pages and groups. Smartphones and tablets provide mobile and instantaneous access to information from any location.
People now use social technology to help shape the world’s events and culture and it is increasingly difficult for governments to exercise control over this terrain due to open freedoms of citizen journalism.
This is evident in the #Euromaidan protests in Ukraine where new media, social networks and other IT tools where utilised for organizing and sustaining the protests. Since the beginning of the protests, Facebook in particular has played a central role in organizing protesters and informing wider audiences about the latest developments. The first gathering of protesters, organized in Kyiv on the eve of November 21 and which was immediately dubbed Euromaidan (European Square), was sparked by the appeals of several journalists and civil activists.
Facebook and Twitter soon became the key platforms for coordinating protest activities and sharing information. The Facebook page is used to inform protesters about urgent news and issues, discuss plans of future actions, warn against using violence, share advice on how to deal with police forces, and much more.
These pages helped inform international audiences about the protests in Ukraine that initially went almost unnoticed by international media. Also, following beatings of protesters by riot police and the first arrests, additional Facebook pages and groups emerged to meet the growing need for medical and legal assistance, as well as for spreading basic information to keep protesters safe.
A man passes a major road accident and takes a picture on his iPhone and posts it on Facebook. Within the hour he has 30 likes and 12 comments. This is a prime example of how the lightning fast networks of social media have become the latest news sources and traditional news platforms are trying to catch up.
The concept behind citizen journalism is that public citizens play and active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing, and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalism is a specific form of both citizen media and user generated content.
The internet has given citizens the most powerful ability, to create content and to publish that content on a global platform for free. It has turned passive users into active participants and consequently created a participatory culture which allows for collaborative intelligence.
New media technology, such as social networking and media-sharing websites, in addition to the increasing presence of mobile phones, have made citizen journalism more accessible to people worldwide. Due to the availability of technology, citizens can often report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters and at a much cheaper cost. This freedom and accessibility does give rise to issues though. The most common doubt is the question surrounding reliability and credibility as anyone can publish anything despite having a lack of evidence.
Mobile devices are the backbone to continuous accessibility and connectivity across the globe and they only aid in the proliferation of information networks through platforms such as the internet. A source of great debate is between whether the Apple iOS or Android mobile operating systems and devices are superior and how the characteristics and implications of the open and closed networks impact users.
This is a comparison of the closed “walled garden” approach of Apple and the open source software of Android whereby both possess strengths and weaknesses.
Apple has a closed sourced operating system where there is no real possibility of making a new operating system from it or customising it. On iOS, you can only install applications from Apple’s App Store. If Apple doesn’t want to approve an app or they remove it from the app store, you just can’t use it. Downloading unapproved apps require jailbreaking, which is a headache.
Androids on the other hand have an open source operating system where by people can take that source code and create custom operating systems from it. On Android, you can install apps from “unknown sources” and this allows you to install applications from outside Google Play, which is Google’s app store. Even if Google doesn’t approve of an app, you can install it from elsewhere. Google is also less restrictive about apps in their own app store.
For most people, it honestly doesn’t matter much. iOS is offering more and more flexibility with each passing version. Google’s Android isn’t a completely open platform. On the other hand, if you’re someone who wants to customize every little thing about your device, tweaking low-level things, and installing random apps Apple may not approve of, an Android phone is still a more flexible platform for that.
Digital feudalism refers to the power relationship between legal frameworks and networked ecosystems. Due to the internet and digital technologies quick evolution, they are increasingly becoming opposite of their decentralised roots. This is because of technologies such as smartphones and tablets experiencing vertical integration (stacks) which is “hardware, software platform, and an identity layer packaged together, along with an app and content ecosystem”. The previous as well as a minute amount of companies (masters) controlling their digital data exchange territories have a form of control over users (serfs) whereby user give up some freedoms but gain security, usability and convenience, and app and content providers finally have a workable revenue model.
Some serious concerns raised by Stanford scholar Arvind Narayanan include;
- Public conversations are stored on and mediated by privately controlled servers and algorithms.
- As a side effect, vast repositories of sociological data are inaccessible to researchers.
- With digital goods, the concept of resale, and hence the first-sale doctrine, are becoming meaningless in practice.
- Non-interoperability leads to redundancy and economic inefficiency.
- Companies control our digital identities, and getting locked out can mean losing one’s digital life.
These issues give rise to questions like should tech innovators be content to tinker at the edges, or try to strike at the roots? Which laws need to be re-examined, and what new laws do we need? What are the implications for privacy?