RPS Archives — Page 12 of 28 — LIRNEasia


It is reported that momentum is building for rules for e commerce under the WTO. India is both a hotbed of e commerce developments (Walmart has just gained majority control of Flipkart) and a heavyweight in international trade negotiations. Its role in scuttling the Doha Round is still remembered. But India is said to lack adequate knowledge to formulate positions on e commerce, except for one blatantly protectionist issue and one that poses significant challenges to implement: Consider, for instance, one key demand by developed countries to make permanent the current ban on customs duties on ‘global electronic transactions’ that were suspended in 1998. On the face of it, this is a reasonable ask: if the ban is overturned, it would give countries the right to impose tariffs on downloads of mobile applications, streamed music from Spotify or videos from Netflix.
It is one thing to talk about the second circle of associates in terms of lawful interception, as we did in our bulk surveillance paper that will be out of review shortly. It is quite something else to see how many records are actually yielded by surveillance of a relatively small number of targets. In 2017, 543 million records were collected from surveillance of just 40 people. In 2016, the first full year for which that replacement system was in operation, the government obtained orders to target 42 people and collected just over 151 million call detail records. In 2017, the government obtained orders for 40 targets.
Much of the discussion on privacy is premised on the implicit imposition of a private-property model on data or information that is subject to control/consent. This could have worked when all we were dealing with were relatively simple data like a social security number or an address. But the really interesting data are transaction-generated data (TGD). These necessarily involve more than one person. How can I give or not give consent to the use of my TGD, when multiple entities have been involved in its production?
Galpaya, H. N., Suthaharan, P., & Senanayake, D. L.
In early April, the Indonesian government considered banning Facebook amid concerns of privacy breaches and potential abuse of the platform to influence the upcoming presidential elections through fake news and hate speech. Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman and Ayesha Zainudeen used indicative survey data on the use of social media and other online services by 1,200 Indonesian citizens collected by LIRNEasia in 2017 in this article (Bahasa-Kontan.co.id., English – The Jakarta Post) first published on Tuesday, 24 April 2018.
It appears that Myanmar’s universal service strategy has been finalized. Our work was represented in the draft that was put out for comments, but we made additional comments on that draft, which are here. Current mobile networks cover over 90% of Myanmar’s population, but the government believes the USF will be necessary to fund the development of network towers in unserved areas. Through the project the government is targeting 94% population coverage by the first quarter of next year and 99% coverage in the future. Once basic infrastructure is deployed to the rural areas, more advanced telecommunications services can be introduced in the future, the report states.
It was back in 2009 that I was criticized for saying that regulation based on an understanding of the operative Budget Telecom Network Model did not permit strict regulation of quality of service. It was also around then that we started focusing on taxes as a factor. That was repeated many times in Bangladesh by us, for example, when I outlined what needed to be done to achieve Digital Bangladesh. That these things have to be said again and again, indicates we have not been very effective. The national exchequer gets Tk 51 of every Tk 100 spent by a mobile user, leaving less money for the operators to develop network and run business smoothly, the GSMA said yesterday.

Facebook: To ban or not to ban?

Posted on April 24, 2018  /  0 Comments

The Jakarta Post Opinion by Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman and Ayesha Zainudeen The Indonesian government is considering a ban on Facebook amid concerns of privacy breaches and potential abuse of the platform to influence the upcoming presidential elections through fake news and hate speech. Using the indicative survey data collected by LIRNEasia in 2017, on use of social media among other online services by 1,200 Indonesian citizens, the following article by Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman (Research Fellow at United Nations University-Electronic Governance) and Ayesha Zainudeen (Senior Research Manager at LIRNEasia) argues against such a ban. The authors argue that a ban on Facebook or other social media in Indonesia could have serious economic impacts, and could end up being futile, given the recent experience in Sri lanka: “Certainly, a deeper analysis, using nationally representative data is required to better understand this phenomenon in Indonesia. But as a starting point, banning Facebook cannot be seen as a wise decision at the moment considering that people are starting to economize this platform, particularly in the SME sector which plays an important role in Indonesia’s economy.” The article has been published in Bahasa Indonesia by business news outlet Kontan.
Helani Galpaya was invited as an expert speaker to the Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) on e-Commerce and Digital  Economy meeting which took place during UNCTAD’s eCommerce week. Helani’s presentation focused on the state of connectivity, use of mobile payment and level of eCommerce use in the Global South, as revealed by the AfterAccess surveys LIRNEasia, RIA and DIRSI have just completed. She was also an invited speaker at the first IGE in 2017.
Gyanendra’s Law states that network shutdowns after a certain level of penetration has been achieved results in the political authority responsible for the shut down losing power. The underlying reason may be the economic harm that is caused. Appears this effect is seen is shut downs of Internet-based services too: Telegram tried to thwart the blockage by shifting its service to two giant American web hosts, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, while at the same time repeatedly changing its IP address to skip ahead of Roskomnadzor. In response, rather than chasing individual IP addresses — a unique set of numbers that identifies a computer, smartphone or other device connected to the internet — the watchdog agency elected to shut down enormous blocks of addresses, called subnets. The collateral damage hit a variety of other sites, like Viber, another messaging app, as well as small businesses including a language school and a courier service, all of which suffered financial losses.
Supporting evidence-based policy making and implementation by governments in the emerging Asia Pacific is an important part of LIRNEasia’s raison d’etre.  This support is extended in many ways.  The latest is the acceptance of the Sri Lanka government’s invitation extended to founder chair Rohan Samarajiva to serve as Chairman on the countries apex ICT Agency.  Rohan was a member of the original Board of the ICT Agency, which was established in 2003 to implement a pioneering integrated ICT development initiative called e Sri Lanka.  He contributed to its design.
I do not appear to have blogged about it, but the first time I brought up this issue was at the 2013 (Bali) or 2014 (Istanbul) IGF. If consent-based privacy rules are imposed on the existing concentrations of behavioral transaction-based data, there will be considerable to negative implications for SMEs and start ups on one side and for those engaged in data analytics for the public good. It is interesting that the Economist is highlighting this issue: Along with other tech firms, it should create an industry ombudsman whose jobs would include making access to platforms easier for independent researchers. Instead of opening up, however, the risk is that Facebook will throw up walls: its decision to kick third-party data-brokers off the platform has the convenient effect of both protecting users’ data and entrenching its power as a source of those data.
LIRNEasia and CPRsouth were created to contribute to better laws, policies, regulation and implementation in the emerging Asia Pacific. There are many ways to do this, including the actual training of the relevant people within government. For example, from 2013 onward we have conducted multiple training and awareness programs for legislators and regulatory staff in Myanmar. To say that Myanmar legislators need help with understanding new technologies and new business models is one thing. To say that members of the US Congress do is quite something else.
I probably learned more useful things from working as a lowly assistant for an expert witness in US v AT&T, than from my formal education. So I was all agog when the next big anti-trust case came up, US v Microsoft. But that was also when I began to realize the need rethink of the core concepts. This article in Medium (I hope it will not be paywalled) makes an insightful comparison between the tying arguments that were central the Microsoft case and the loose claims of monopoly being bandied about in relation to Facebook now. While some of the questions and concerns echoed those the senators had two decades ago, Microsoft and Facebook’s situation could not be more different.
Here is what Mark Zuckerberg said in his testimony before a Senate Committee: He also said that while Facebook is beefing up its use of AI to spot and remove offensive content, it will be five to 10 years before the company will have tools to do this automatically. So I was correct in my phrasing in the New York Times op ed: Media companies of all kinds must accept responsibility and deploy artificial intelligence and plain old elbow grease to the task. And people of good will must play their part by calling out falsehoods and reporting those responsible. So let’s apply the elbow grease while working on the AI.
Firms have always had an interest maintaining the loyalty of their customers. This has also involved knowing more about the customers. In a discussion of subscription models, the Economist, refers to what may happen because of restriction on data that may emerge because of the Cambridge Analytica imbroglio. Subscription models are becoming more popular, in part because technology has made it easier to rent rather than own assets. Instead of buying software, for example, users can get access to it as a cloud-based service.