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As America heads back to school, let’s be careful what we teach the world

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is being held next week in Istanbul, Turkey. The IGF has chosen to place net neutrality back on the agenda for a full afternoon discussion by the global attendees. Similar to many other Internet governance issues, “net neutrality” does not have the same definition across the globe.

For example, Brazil recently adopted an Internet Bill of Rights that contains its own definition of “net neutrality.” The Bill of Rights calls...

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Intellectual property and economic prosperity: Friends or foes?

Intellectual property has long been viewed as contributing to U.S. prosperity – since even before the Founders enshrined it into the US Constitution. As James Madison said in the Federalist Papers, in the case of IP rights, “the public good fully coincides  . . . with the claims of individuals.” He was so sure of this point that he asserted that “the utility of this power will scarcely be questioned.”

Of course, despite Madison’s...

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Galvanizing government IT projects

Yesterday, my colleague Ariel Rabkin outlined a number of reasons why the Obama administration’s recently announced formation of the US Digital Service and the General Services Administration’s digital services group fall far short of the structural reforms necessary to deal with the core problems bedeviling government IT projects.  Collecting a couple of small groups of highly talented technologists to act as advisory teams for government projects might look good, but overlooks some critical differences between the requirements of modern IT projects and the nature of the government beast.  Nonetheless, it is an approach taken in many other countries, including New Zealand, where a Government Chief Information Officer has been appointed to provide sector leadership and is required to approve all government IT purchases.

Unsnarling federal information technology projects

The Obama administration recently announced the formation of a new "US Digital Service." The new organization, part of the Office of Management and Budget, is intended to advise and assist other federal agencies with their information technology (IT) efforts. In addition, the General Services Administration has recently put together a new digital-services group. Both groups have a similar philosophy – collect a small group of highly talented and motivated technologists and make them available as a resource for IT projects throughout the government. These initiatives are likely to improve the dismal state of federal IT projects, at least a little. But they won't address the core problems with federal IT management and, absent much more drastic structural reform, are unlikely to provide much long-term benefit.