My 12/26/10 Missoulian column
Rather than my usual blogs to read for the year column, this is a news issues to watch for in 2011.
How can it not be, what with WikiLeaks, Net Neutrality and Web tracking getting lots of press over the last few months? You’ve probably heard of the first two; they’ve been in the headlines for months, while I think Web tracking will be a big topic this next year.
First, the WikiLeaks story. Generally speaking, I think WikiLeaks is a good idea: We do need to know what’s going on inside governments. The means to the end of the access to that information, of course, is up for much debate.
And I think the dodgy persona of Julian Assange is a problem for Wikileaks, as was the hybrid of journalism, advocacy and secrecy of the group itself, all while seeking headlines.
Now, the organization is fragmenting into something new called OpenLeaks, which will reveal itself in the next month or so. They claim less baggage and may be more in tune with the original mission: providing access to information while staying out of the way.
Net Neutrality has been a battle among lobbyists and government agencies for years now, and last week the Federal Communications Commission posted rules that no one seems seems to be happy with.
And next year’s change of power in D.C. will more than likely try to roll back the rules and the issue will end up back in court, where it’s already been.
Proponents of Net Neutrality – those who want a wide open and free Internet with no speed limits or speed bumps – say the new rules are full of loopholes and will result in a have and have-not system. Opponents of Net Neutrality – who say any rules stifle traffic speed and Internet growth – say the costs of the FCC actions will be less innovation and more future regulation.
The other big issue of 2011 will be Web tracking. Using a Web browser leaves a long bread-crumb trail of personal information for advertisers and other businesses. The Federal Trade Commission is considering a “Do Not Track” list, like the “Do Not Call” list for telephones.
Ad industry lobbyists don’t want it, and Web browser developers have been adding features to thwart tracking, but in some cases, only as long as advertising money isn’t involved.
The next year will be interesting; there’s always too much to write about.
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