The Internet has reached a critical point. The world is running out of Internet addresses. There is a finite supply of approximately 4.3 billion Internet Protocol (IP) addresses--the unique binary numbers required for every exchange of information over the Internet--within the Internet’s prevailing technical architecture (IPv4). In the 1990s the Internet standards community selected a new protocol (IPv6) that would expand the number of Internet addresses exponentially--to 340 undecillion addresses.
Innovation in information and communication technology (ICT) fuels the growth of the global economy. How ICT markets evolve depends on politics and policy, and since the 1950s periodic overhauls of ICT policy have transformed competition and innovation. For example, in the 1980s and the 1990s a revolution in communication policy (the introduction of sweeping competition) also transformed the information market.
The burgeoning use and transformative impact of global electronic networks are widely recognized to be defining features of contemporary world affairs. Less often noted has been the increasing importance of global governance arrangements in managing the many issues raised in such networks.
Many countries around the world block or filter Internet content, denying access to information that they deem too sensitive for ordinary citizens--most often about politics, but sometimes relating to sexuality, culture, or religion. Access Denied documents and analyzes Internet filtering practices in more than three dozen countries, offering the first rigorously conducted study of an accelerating trend. Internet filtering takes place in more than three dozen states worldwide, including many countries in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Just as education has promoted democracy and economic growth, the Internet has the potential to benefit society as a whole. Digital citizenship, or the ability to participate in society online, promotes social inclusion. But statistics show that significant segments of the population are still excluded from digital citizenship. The authors of this book define digital citizens as those who are online daily. By focusing on frequent use, they reconceptualize debates about the digital divide to include both the means and the skills to participate online.
Developments in information and communication technology and networked computing over the past two decades have given rise to the notion of electronic government, most commonly used to refer to the delivery of public services over the Internet.
While the public and the media have been distracted by the story of Napster, warnings about the evils of "piracy," and lawsuits by the recording and film industries, the enforcement of copyright law in the digital world has quietly shifted from regulating copying to regulating the design of technology.
As the informational state replaces the bureaucratic welfare state, control over information creation, processing, flows, and use has become the most effective form of power. In Change of State Sandra Braman examines the theoretical and practical ramifications of this "change of state." She looks at the ways in which governments are deliberate, explicit, and consistent in their use of information policy to exercise power, exploring not only such familiar topics as intellectual property rights and privacy but also areas in which policy is highly effective but little understood.
Telecommunication has never been perfectly secure. The Cold War culture of recording devices in telephone receivers and bugged embassy offices has been succeeded by a post-9/11 world of NSA wiretaps and demands for data retention. Although the 1990s battle for individual and commercial freedom to use cryptography was won, growth in the use of cryptography has been slow. Meanwhile, regulations requiring that the computer and communication industries build spying into their systems for government convenience have increased rapidly.