"What is 'the cloud'?" "How is the cloud transforming communication in the Pacific?" "What are the ethical, legal, and other implications of the cloud?" These and related questions were posed at the 32nd Pacific Telecommunications Council Annual Conference. More than 1,200 communication industry leaders, government representatives, regulators, policy advisors, researchers, lawyers, professors, media professionals, students, and others from more than 60 countries convened for the purpose of this discussion January 18-20, 2010 in Honolulu.
"Cloud computing" has both introduced and amplified numerous ethical issues in the Pacific (and elsewhere), such as privacy, security, fraud, the right to reply, cyberbullying, pornography, defamation, etc. These issues were the focus of a panel on "Legal, Ethical, Humanitarian, and Strategic Aspects of Cloud Migration to the Pacific" which featured business, legal, and ethical experts from Australia, Japan, Canada, and the United States. Panel participants noted that, due to the multi-cultural, multi-domain, multi-platform, and the often geographically ambiguous nature of cloud computing, many challenges have evolved regarding legal jurisdictions and ethical complexities of cloud regulation and expansion.
Other ongoing ethical concerns were discussed at program plenary sessions and roundtables. For example, Richard Martin, editor-in-chief of Von, engaged Edward Rogers, executive vice president of Rogers Communication, in a discussion about net neutrality during a live interview.
Information policy professor Richard Taylor of Pennsylvania State University analyzed new cloud policies with Eli Noam of Columbia University, Anthony Briscoe, general manager of Telecom New Zealand International, and Matthias Kurth, president of the Federal Network Agency in Germany.
The "digital divide," a perennial PTC topic, was explored in a roundtable entitled "'Smart Government' and Reaching the Unserved/Underserved." The role and responsibilities of governments, NGOs and businesses in providing universal digital and mobile services to their constituencies and citizens was debated.
Although cloud computing was the focus theme for PTC 2010, the program also featured updates about traditional telecommunication technologies including satellites, submarine telecommunication, terrestial and mobile telephony, and so on. Continuing ethical issues include content censorship, environmental waste vs. "green" resources, security, and social responsibility (including providing in-kind humanitarian assistance and public access).
CLIFF CHRISTIANS RETIRES Clifford G. Christians, scholar and writer in the philosophy of media ethics is slated to retire from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign this spring. Noted for his ability to get people to work together and his wide smile as well as his erudition, Cliff directed the U of I Institute of Communications Research for many years. His scholarly output continues to fill many shelves and brains of those in this broad campus. Most importantly, he serves as an exemplar of the modern scholar-awakening early to read Kant (in German, of course), doing the "scut work" in organizing conferences and helping others, traveling to distant places to provide ideas and commentary, and even fighting in the trenches for additional funding. Christians' recently published output is so extensive that most of an issue of MEDIA ETHICS could be filled with its reviews. Although the already-held testimonial dinners dedicated to Christians are a challenge to his waistline, so far as this magazine is concerned, Cliff is in no danger of stepping down as Executive Publisher.thank Goodness. -JMK