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Category Archives: Blogs

Everybody Dies: What is Your Digital Legacy?

Alethea Lange – CDT – “What happens to your email when you die? For most people this hopefully isn’t an urgent question, but a few high profile cases have made it an issue for lawmakers and judges around the world. You might think that your family could show up with a death certificate and/or a court order and get access to your digital content, but it’s not that straightforward. The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) governs what types of information cloud service providers like Google and Yahoo! can disclose and under what circumstances — and it doesn’t account for death. Companies are inclined to point to their terms of service to decide when and how to provide access to accounts, but this is often decided on a case-by-case basis. This has left a confusing and delicate gap in the law that competing entities are rushing to fill. It’s easy to forget the amount of administrative work we conduct in online accounts  —many of us only receive electronic statements and bills— and one of the tasks facing grieving families and friends is to close and settle accounts for their deceased love ones. This is challenging without access to email or other digital accounts where statements and other notifications are commonly sent. Additionally, years of family memories can be stored in a password-protected account, often through cloud services. The combination of sentimental and practical reasons to give access, and the serious privacy concerns implicated in doing so, has made this a hot button issue. Several states have already introduced legislation, and we expect to see more this legislative session. Currently, anyone can write their will to include instructions for the dispensation of online accounts in whatever way they wish. ECPA does not prevent account holders from granting access to their own accounts by sharing passwords or other security details. (Pro-tip: Don’t put your passwords in your will because that document will become part of the public record. Instead, leave instructions for where to find a list of passwords to chosen accounts.) This is a good solution — it allows individuals to express their wishes, gives clarity to tech companies, and doesn’t require anyone to look at the U.S Code. However, only 45 percent of Americans have a valid will at death, and far fewer specifically address access to digital accounts, leaving many personal representatives with uncertain fiduciary duties.”

Lessons about Twitter from New York Times’ social media desk

Michael Roston is a staff editor for social media at The New York Times: “On a daily basis we publish many articles that need an alternative approach to attract readers that might come to us from social media. But there are also a significant number of instances where we shouldn’t try too hard to writeContinue Reading

9 maps that explained the Internet in 2014

Washington Post: “This was a big year for the Internet, from the U.S. debate over net neutrality to proposals to shift control of the worldwide Web to the global community. Here are maps that can help you understand how the Internet worked and how people used it in 2014.”

Freedom on the Net 2014

Freedom on the Net 2014 – the fifth annual comprehensive study of internet freedom around the globe, covering developments in 65 countries that occurred between May 2013 and May 2014 –finds internet freedom around the world in decline for the fourth consecutive year, with 36 out of 65 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negativeContinue Reading

What Americans Think About Privacy

Pew Data Visualization and report – “The majority of Americans feel their privacy is being challenged in some fundamental ways, our new report finds. Select one of the nine profiles below to see the variety of perspectives our focus group respondents shared about privacy. Their answers are real, but they have been assigned a pseudonym.”

News Use Across Social Media Platforms

Pew Research Journalism Project –  How do different social networking websites stack up when it comes to news? How many people engage with news across multiple social sites? And what are their news consumption habits on traditional platforms? As part of an ongoing examination of social media and news, the Pew Research Center in collaborationContinue Reading

Hashtag Standards For Emergencies

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – Hashtag Standards For Emergencies – OCHA POLICY AND  STUDIES SERIES – THINK BRIEF, October 2014 | 012 “In recent years, social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and blogs have demonstrated significant value during emergencies as the “information currency of disasters”. These digital tools give affected communities a flexibleContinue Reading

Victims of Online Harassment Describe Their Experiences

Pew – Online Harassment – 73% of adult internet users have seen someone be harassed in some way online and 40% have personally experienced it. Interactive: Personal Experiences of Online Harassment

Teen Researchers Defend Media Multitasking – WSJ

WSJ.com – Doing Homework With Music, Texts, Tweets Works Better for Some “Some teens doing homework while listening to music and juggling tweets and texts may actually work better that way, according to an intriguing new study performed by two high-school seniors. The Portland, Ore., students were invited to the annual conference of the American Academy ofContinue Reading

Twitter – Taking the fight for #transparency to court

Twitter news release: ” As part of our latest transparency report released in July, wedescribed how we were being prohibited from reporting on the actual scope of surveillance of Twitter users by the U.S. government. Our ability to speak has been restricted by laws that prohibit and even criminalize a service provider like us from disclosingContinue Reading

Commentary – How Social Media Leads to a Less Stable World

While social media provides myriad benefits, the advances in connectivity and wealth may come at the expense of the state and the world’s stability, writes Curtis Hougland, CEO of Attentionusa.com, a global social marketing agency.  “James Foley. David Haines. Steven Sotloff. The list of people beheaded by followers of the Islamic State of Iraq andContinue Reading

Approaching Social Media Governance

Oermann, Markus and Lose, Martin and Schmidt, Jan-Hinrik and Johnsen, Katharina, Approaching Social Media Governance (September 19, 2014). HIIG Discussion Paper Series No. 2014-05. Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2498552 “In this working paper, we address the new forms of governance emerging within the technological and social spaces of Social Media. The overall aim of theContinue Reading