By Katrina Lantos Swett, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Katrina Lantos Swett is the chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
Fifty years ago today, on June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy stood in West Berlin and condemned the newly erected Berlin Wall. Twenty-four years later, President Ronald Reagan traveled to West Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”
In the decades between these speeches, human rights and religious freedom advocates behind the Iron Curtain defied the walls of tyranny by relying on the samizdat, a clandestine system to print and distribute government-suppressed material. Today, many use the internet in much the same way, raising both challenges and opportunities as the forces of repression and freedom clash in the virtual and physical worlds.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton characterized the internet as “the public space of the 21st century.” The challenge is to keep this space free, open, and secure – a global platform to express ideas and exchange information, not a tool to repress people.
"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Kenneth Cukier, data editor of The Economist, and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, a professor at Oxford’s Internet Institute, about the applications of “big data.”
So, what’s the big story here? I mean, we’ve always had data. Why is big data a quantum leap?
Cukier: Well, first we have vastly more data than we ever had before. That’s new. But secondly, we have more data on things that we never had rendered into a data format before. It was always informational, but not data. So you can take where you are, a location, as one example. Words in books that are now digitized and also datafied, is another. When you think about social media platforms like Facebook, it “datafies” our friendships. LinkedIn datafies our professional contacts. And we can do new things with that.
You have an example about the flu that’s fascinating, how Google and big data allowed people to figure out where flus were breaking.
Mayer-Schonberger: Yes, indeed. Think back at the H1N1 flu crisis that we had. And the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta wanted to find out where the flu was. And they asked doctors to report every flu case. But, by the time they had collected all the information and tabulated it, two weeks went by. And that’s an eternity if you have a pandemic at hand. And Google, at that time, thought that they could do better just by looking at what people searched for online.
Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN
Fareed speaks with Google Executive Director Eric Schmidt about the role of technology in society and his trip to North Korea, which was detailed in his daughter’s blog.
So when you watched this Boston episode, what did you think about the power of technology, for this process of self-radicalizing on the Internet is just fascinating. Where people no longer need a community, they no longer need a leader, they can just kind of find all that information out there.
Look, this is a terrible thing in Boston and obviously, we don't want it to happen again. There were some good digital stories about it, the use of the crowd sourcing of the photos, the fact that somebody left a cell phone that was tracked to help find and ultimately cause the shootout with the two that killed the one, etc.
The fact of the matter is, people have gotten bad information from books and so forth. Now it's more readily available on the Internet. But overwhelmingly, the Internet is used for a positive force and it can be used to catch these people.
And that's why, at the end of the day, you say look, we can look at the way in which China monitors the Internet, or people use the Internet for bad reasons, but ultimately, it's a hopeful story, you think.
It is. And one way to understand it is that we're all going through a journey together. And that journey goes from relatively little connectivity and little knowledge to having everyone in the world be connected.
That is overwhelmingly positive for medical care, for education, for safety, for security, for commerce, for global expansion, for trade – for a number of the things that we care about, it's overwhelmingly good.
Now, it also brings some bad people to the table that we didn't hear from before. And we need to figure out a way to anticipate that and deal with them. But overwhelmingly, people are good – 99.99 percent of the people in the world are very, very good. That's our solution.
For more What in the World, watch GPS on Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET
By Global Public Square staff
Senator Rand Paul decided to drone on last week about drones. He employed a rare talking filibuster to stall a confirmation vote for John Brennan as the CIA's director. All told, he went on for 12 hours and 52 minutes, including when he took questions from his Republican colleagues.
Washington also saw some tough questioning for Eric Holder. The attorney general was forced to admit it would unconstitutional to kill an American citizen with drone strikes on U.S. soil unless there was a Pearl Harbor-type imminent threat.
Usually, filibusters can be viewed as a bizarre, quasi-constitutional mechanism that is basically anti-democratic. But it's important to have a serious debate about drones, not just on the legality of whether they can be used to kill an American citizen, but a broader debate about them.
By Wenzel Michalski and Ben Wagner, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Wenzel Michalski is the Germany director at Human Rights Watch. You can follow him @WenzelMichalski. Ben Wagner is a researcher at the European University Institute and a visiting academic fellow at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are their own.
The Arab uprisings have been a poignant reminder of how the Internet can promote free expression and assembly, but also how governments can try abuse it. The medium used by demonstrators to organize protests and bring medical supplies to Tahrir Square, for example, was also used by the government to pinpoint human rights defenders for arrest, harassment, and even torture.
This reality will likely be on the minds of policymakers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who are meeting in Vienna to discuss how to advance media freedoms, and who will be fully aware that while the Internet is a catalyst for popular protest, it is also targeted by governments to stifle those same voices.
For more Last Look watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
Ethiopia has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world, and the village of Wonchi is no exception. Nobody there can read or write. That’s why I was astonished when I saw what Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child organization did there.
They dropped 20 Motorola tablets, preloaded with mostly literacy apps in the village with no instructions. Within four minutes, one boy had found the on/off switch – an unknown entity in these parts – and he then taught the others. In a few days, they were each using about 50 apps each.
Watch the video for the full Look.
By A. Greer Meisels & Mihoko Matsubara, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: A. Greer Meisels is associate director and research fellow at the Center for the National Interest. Mihoko Matsubara is a cybersecurity analyst and was previously a research fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS. The views expressed are their own.
The United States and its allies count technological innovations and critical infrastructure among their strategic resources and, as such, their military and economic strategies increasingly rely on information and communications technology. Unfortunately, as a recent U.S. congressional report on Chinese telecommunication equipment heavyweights Huawei and ZTE suggested, these technologies are now threatened by cyber espionage and sabotage.
After reading the congressional report, it’s hard not to breathe a sigh of relief that a general like Sun Tzu did not have cyber instruments in his arsenal. The report declared Huawei and ZTE potential threats to U.S. national security given their alleged ties to the Chinese government and its military, which some believe might increase the risk of their engaging in espionage and sabotage activities.
By Enrico Moretti, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Enrico Moretti is professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Infrastructure and Urbanization Program at the International Growth Centre (London School of Economics and Oxford University). He is the author of ‘The New Geography of Jobs.’ The views expressed are his own.
The economic map of America today does not show just one country – it shows three increasingly different countries. At one extreme are America’s brain hubs – cities like Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, Austin, Boston, New York and Washington DC – with a thriving innovation-driven economy and a labor force among the most creative and best paid on the planet. The most striking example is San Francisco, where the labor market for tech workers is the strongest it has been in a decade. At the other extreme are cities once dominated by traditional manufacturing – Detroit, Flint, Cleveland – with shrinking labor force and salaries. In the middle there is the rest of America, apparently undecided on which direction to take.
Historically, there have always been prosperous communities and struggling communities. But the difference was small until the 1980’s, and has been growing dramatically since then. In 1980, the salary of a college educated worker in Austin was lower than in Flint. Today it is 45 percent higher in Austin, and the gap keeps expanding with every passing year. The gap for workers with a high school degree is a staggering 70 percent by some estimates. It is not that workers in Austin have higher IQ than those in Flint, or work harder. The ecosystem that surrounds them is different. The mounting economic divide between American communities – arguably one of the most important developments in the history of the United States of the past half a century – is not an accident, but reflects a structural change in the American economy.
By CNN Global Public Square
For more “What in the World,” watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET
Silicon Valley has been a key driver of U.S. growth in the last two decades. Just look at the rise of Apple, Google, and Facebook, and all the jobs and opportunities and new communities they’ve created. But the “secret sauce” behind this success might be running out.
A new book caught my eye this week. It’s called The Immigrant Exodus by Vivek Wadhwa, a former tech entrepreneur who now studies and lectures on immigration. He has some fascinating findings. Wadhwa says between 1995 and 2005, more than a half of all Silicon Valley tech companies were founded by immigrants. But when Wadhwa updated his findings to 2012, he found the proportion of immigrant-founded companies had dropped by a sixth – from 52 percent to 44 percent.
By Jennifer Granick, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jennifer Stisa Granick is director of civil liberties at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Previously, she was counsel with the internet boutique firm Zwillgen, and civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The views expressed are her own.
Top Obama administration officials have been pressing the U.S. Congress hard for legislation to improve network security for the computer systems that run the nation’s critical infrastructure. The House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), while the White House supported the 211-page Cybersecurity Act, which failed to get a vote in the Senate before legislators went on recess. Citizens now have the summer to ask some important questions before supporting any such legislative effort.
The big question, of course, is what problem are we trying to solve? Administration officials justify cybersecurity legislation by coining words like “cybergeddon” and telling tales of terrorists shutting off the nation’s electricity or causing dams to malfunction, flooding our communities.
Editor’s note: GPS sits down with Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, to discuss U.S. political gridlock and the cyber threat to the U.S. economy.
The 112th Congress has been dismissed by many as the ultimate do-nothing Congress. How much is the gridlock in Washington hurting the U.S. economic recovery?
It’s hurting a lot and, unfortunately, a lot of things that need to be done aren’t getting done. For example, I would like to see Congress pass a version of the Simpson-Bowles tax reform proposal. By far the most efficient way to collect more tax revenue would be to drastically reduce exemptions (“tax expenditures”) thereby raising more revenue while keeping marginal tax rates at a reasonable level. With private investment weak, this is a good time for the government to undertake high-return infrastructure projects with a compelling cost-benefit ratio. But the rationale is to improve the long-run growth potential of the economy, not to engage in pure Keynesian stimulus. While I strongly favor instituting a carbon tax, there is some urgency in refocusing our energy program to recognize the huge innovations that are allowing the U.S. to harvest unconventional sources of gas and (secondarily oil) that promise to make the United States far less dependent on imported energy. In principle, our low energy prices could even catalyze a return to the U.S. of some types of manufacturing.
Of course, the Congress has been gridlocked for some time. This gridlock didn’t matter so much during the credit bubble; the economy was growing briskly despite – or perhaps because of – limited government intervention or innovation. But we’ve reached a point where there’s been so little reform for so long that it’s a hindrance to growth. And, in the near term, things only seem to be getting worse, with ugly partisanship clearing out the center in both major parties.
Editor's note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer/correspondent, she is the author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television." The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frida Ghitis.
Facebook's $104 billion initial public offering comes at a time when the United States is suffering a bout of self-doubt. Many wonder if America is falling behind as other countries are catching up fast. And yet the Facebook phenomenon did not occur in a vacuum.
You might say it could have happened anywhere. But it happened in America. And there was a reason for that. FULL POST