Government policy can send ripple through industries, even if they’re intended to deliver safety and fairness. Especially in the tech world, constant change combined with rigid policies can have both adverse and innovative effects.
Here are 6 ways that governments use technology to make an impact, whether on purpose or through chain reactions in their country, society, economy, or the world.
Emergency Notification Technology
Emergency messages have changed a lot over the years. While air sirens and radio announcements still exist, the world of emergency management takes advantage of the booming changes in the tech world.
At the surface level, the benefit is deceptively simple: with smartphones and tablets everywhere, it’s easy to notify everyone who has a mobile device or a network-enabled device that can display messages.
What isn’t obvious is the technology behind that notification and the potential reach of emergency data. From Global Positioning System (GPS) data to detailed weather update that change by the minute, government and private sector influence can save a lot of lives by merging science and technology in many ways.
There are a few implications that create a “chicken or the egg” debate, in that it’s hard for the general public to understand which came first. If your phone has data turned off or doesn’t have a cellular plan, why are emergency messages able to reach your phone? What else can reach your phone without data? Does it work the other way around?
This creates a privacy concern, but cellular phones have always had these capabilities. The capabilities were never secret, but the new technology may have gone over the public’s heads. By the time the general public became savvy enough for smartphones, a lot of private sector privacy promises were made and broken several times over.
Combine this with the Big Brother concerns that many have for government and you have a great way to reach the people, but at a slight cost of trust.
Are you low on data? Does getting enough data to open a map, check out vital information, or speak to family and friends compete with paying rent or getting a decent meal?
Many big cities have populations that face this struggle every day. It’s not just the poverty line, and it’s not at all lazy people; middle class workers struggling to stay above the poverty line or even successful people who want to invest their resources properly may not be able to avoid the high costs from many cellular companies.
These cities can offer wireless internet at a low cost, but with a few limitations. Whether it’s public wifi broadcast by routers and access points or cellular data over a larger area, this data tends to be at lower speeds set to ensure everyone has a fair shake at a connection.
This can mean everything to someone who need to figure out where to go for their interview when the instructions make no sense in a strange city, or someone who needs to research medical information without access to a home internet connection or library.
Sure, some people will try to look up music videos or cartoons. Municipal governments simply need to weigh the real effects of internet service abuse against the benefits.
Data Scrubbing And Intel Removal
If you have data, you can learn a lot about where it came from. Identity theft victims and criminals alike are compromised when their video, audio, or data packages are investigated down to the specific bits to figure out how the information traveled, where it was created, and how it was manipulated.
When military drones record information or when data sleuths investigate targets, they use complex and often difficult techniques to strip all but the most necessary data to make their identity and intent harder to find.
The Internet of Things (IoT) industry that delivers internet-connected cameras, thermostats, washing machines, and other devices us a system called Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) to clean personally-identifying data. This protects users, but military organizations and other large government entities are looking into ETL to make the process more efficient, agile, and effective.
Tracking And Tracking Awareness
All of this talk about privacy, tracking, messaging, and location makes a lot of people paranoid. There are mental health and security concerns that come from that paranoia whether it’s justified or not, but there are also technology boons.
As governments become more capable of tracking groups and individuals, there is pushback to maintain privacy. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), secure messaging platforms, and encrypted data systems are constantly evolving as a result, and will continue to change as governments demand access or sneak around protections without permission.
Piracy, Data Sharing, And Freedom
File-sharing is a touchy subject on the internet. While many file-sharing services such as BitTorrent are helpful for distributing big files in smaller, easily managed and easier-to-repair pieces, the technology has become synonymous with piracy.
Internet piracy involves copying and sharing copyrighted videos, audio, programs, games, and other data are always a big battleground. The government is involved through legal policy, seizing assets of sharing sites, arresting extreme violators, and in some cases requesting private information.
Governments across the world aren’t often aggressively against piracy. It may seem like a small difference, but it’s more likely for governments to create an easy complaint system for creators to go after violators while using governments as enforces.
When acting as enforces, governments can use the same identity-checking techniques that they may use for enemies of the state, rivals, or other persons of interest. Demanding personal information from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and website owners have affected business policies as far as how to properly deliver information or when to resist.
Copyright And Online Content Creators
Content strikes are the nemesis of content creators across the internet, but the term became infamous on YouTube.
The main reason for filing content complaints against creators is when content has been stolen. Uploading someone else’s movie and making money from the advertisements is an obvious violation, but there a few other nuanced violations.
The United States Copyright laws govern the multiple ways that copyrighted material can be used. The Fair Use policy (17 U.S. Code § 107) discusses situations such as commentary, parody, remixes, and other ways that a copyrighted work can be used–and possibly monitized–by someone other than the original creator.
Fair Use was considered fairly straightforward for years during the broadband era of the internet, but can be used for nefarious purposes. Aside from arguments over how “transformative” a piece needs to be to fall under Fair Use, a few of these situations appear on popular video and music platforms:
Companies copyright claiming a reviewer who was hostile towards their product or service.
Companies copyright striking rivals who release a similar product or service.
Companies and individuals copyright striking content that accuses them of wrongdoing.
The issue here is that federal law is being used by often automated–or lightly reviewed–systems. On YouTube for example, multiple YouTubers have been demonitized–the act of taking away the moneymaking ability of their videos–seemingly automatically, only to see the strike lifted with a basic explanation of why the strike is invalid.
Government law is sometimes considered overreaching, but there are times where basic and seemingly innocuous laws can influence major public and private sector behaviors. Keep an eye on not only government technology, but government law to see how they may affect you or your business.