Volume 5 Number 3

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To Speak or Not to Speak: Developing Legal Standards for Anonymous Speech on the Internet

Tomas A. Lipinski
University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, WI, USA

This paper explores recent developments in the regulation of Internet speech, in specific, injurious or defamatory speech and the impact such speech has on the rights of anonymous speakers to remain anonymous as opposed to having their identity revealed to plaintiffs or other third parties. The paper proceeds in four sections.  First, a brief history of the legal attempts to regulate defamatory Internet speech in the United States is presented. As discussed below this regulation has altered the traditional legal paradigm of responsibility and as a result creates potential problems for the future of anonymous speech on the Internet.  As a result plaintiffs are no longer pursuing litigation against service providers but taking their dispute directly to the anonymous speaker. Second, several cases have arisen in the United States where plaintiffs have requested that the identity of an anonymous Internet speaker be revealed.  These cases are surveyed.  Third, the cases are analyzed in order to determine the factors that courts require to be present before the identity of an anonymous speaker will be revealed.  The release is typically accomplished by the enforcement of a discovery subpoena instigated by the party seeking the identity of the anonymous speaker. The factors courts have used are as follows: jurisdiction, good faith (both internal and external), necessity (basic and sometimes absolute), and at times proprietary interest. Finally, these factors are applied in three scenarios—e-commerce, education, and employment—to guide institutions when adopting policies that regulate when the identity of an anonymous speaker—a customer, a student or an employee—would be released as part of an internal initiative, but would nonetheless be consistent with developing legal standards.

Keywords: Anonymous Speech, Internet, Legal Standards and Compliance, Institutional Policies and Decision-Making

Special Series on The Digital Divide (Elizabeth Boyd, Editor)

Introduction to the Special Series on the Digital Divide

Elizabeth C. Boyd
Publisher, Informing Science

What is the Digital Divide?  A number of definitions can be found for the term. The Web site http://whatis.techtarget.com  explains that the term “describes the fact that the world can be divided into people who do and people who don't have access to - and the capability to use - modern information technology, such as the telephone, television, or the Internet...The digital divide also exists between the educated and the uneducated, between economic classes, and, globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations” (Digital Divide, 2002). The American Library Association (2002) stresses that it includes differences in both “access to in-formation through the Internet, and other information technologies and services” and in “the skills, knowledge, and abilities to use information, the Internet and other technologies.” According to the World Economic Forum (2002), “The issue of digital divide extends more broadly than merely that of direct access to technology. Instead, it can be conceived of as the disparity between how different nations are using information and communication technologies as a tool for social and economic development.”


Policy Options to Combat the Digital Divide in Western Europe

Rod Carveth Susan B. Kretchmer
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

 This paper reviews the digital divide in Western Europe, as well as policy options for combating that divide. While age, income and gender are significant predictors of the digital divide in Western Europe, geography plays a crucial role. The countries in Southern Europe have less computer and Internet penetration than their Northern European counterparts. The paper then discusses four policy options for combating the divide, suggesting that the most effective solution would be private/public partnerships.

 Keywords: digital divide, diffusion, Internet, policy


Comprendiendo Nuestras Politicas:
The Need for an Effective C&IT Policy for a Nation’s Development, The Venezuelan Case

Carmen Joham
University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

 This research explores the argument that developing countries (DC) need effective and good quality communications and information technology (C&IT) policies as a strategy for socio-economic growth. It focuses on Venezuela and attempts to gain an understanding of the cur-rent and potential impact of national C&IT policies and strategies in the C&IT diffusion process and globalisation arena. It is suggested that a shift is needed towards a wider concept of policy design. The traditional design reflects a rather ‘prescriptive’ approach, while I propose that a ‘participatory’ approach, which encompasses social, political, technical, ethical and other issues, is both necessary and desirable for effective policies to exist. A multiple perspective interpretative methodology is used in order to understand the complexities of effective C&IT policies in Venezuela to attract C&IT investment and achieve socio-economic growth. Consequently, the study of C&IT policy is based on an approach that emphasizes a multiple level of analysis encompassing the levels of the individual, society, organisation, and technology.

Keywords: C&IT national policy, developing countries, information technology, Venezuela


Bridging the Digital Divide through Educational Initiatives: Problems and Solutions

Tom Butler
 University College Cork, Ireland

Being on the wrong side of the digital divide limits the life chances of the socially excluded, who have had neither the wherewithal nor the opportunity to obtain highly paid, skilled positions in IT. Irish policy makers see education as the solution to this problem. However, provid-ing institutional support for the socially disadvantaged who wish to avail of third level education in IT poses significant challenges. This paper describes these problems and explains how they were overcome in implementing an undergraduate university programme called the Diploma in Applied Business Computing. This targeted initiative was an unqualified success in that it achieved its primary objectives—academic and social. However, what made it so was the commitment of concerned stakeholders, from members of the executive steering committee who developed and implemented the course, to the lecturers who delivered it, the companies who supported it, and the students who participated in it.

Keywords: Digital Divide, Commitment, Education, IT


Informing South African Students about Information Systems

Mike Hart
University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

At the University of Cape Town, females and students disadvantaged under the previous South African apartheid education system are under-represented in Information Systems (I.S.) classes. This research shows that these are also the groups most ignorant about I.S. at the school-leaving stage. After being informed about the discipline through a small intervention, a significant increase in enthusiasm for majoring in and being employed in I.S. occurred. This should result in a better educational fit and greater enrolment of these groups in I.S., and reduce some switching to I.S. from other subjects at a later stage. The key influencing sources for university students’ study decisions are also examined, and it is evident that a different approach is needed for each group in order to maximize the number of quality I.S. graduates.

Keywords: Information systems, education, perceptions, computers, major


Collaboration: the Key to Establishing Community Networks in Regional Australia

Wal Taylor & Stewart Marshall
Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia

Despite the promise of community involvement, cohesion and empowerment offered by local community networks (CN) using Internet Technologies, few communities in regional Australia have been able to demonstrate sustainable and vibrant CN which demonstrate increased social, cultural or self-reliance capital.
The Faculty of Informatics and Communication at Central Queensland University (CQU) and a local council have established a formal alliance to establish the COIN (Community Informatics) projects to research issues around this topic. This paper presents the initial findings from this work and draws conclusions for possible comparison with other international experience.
The research focuses attention on community understanding and cohesion, local government priorities in a community with relatively low diffusion of the Internet and the competing demands in a regional university between traditional service provision in an increasingly competitive market and the needs of establishing outreach research for altruistic, industry establishment and commercial rationale.

Keywords: Community networks, community informatics, University outreach, ICT adoption