Pew Research Internet Project. August 26, 2014.

A major insight into human behavior from pre-internet era studies of communication is the tendency of people not to speak up about policy issues in public, or among their family, friends, and work colleagues, when they believe their own point of view is not widely shared. This tendency is called the “spiral of silence.” Some social media creators and supporters have hoped that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter might produce different enough discussion venues that those with minority views might feel freer to express their opinions, thus broadening public discourse and adding new perspectives to everyday discussion of political issues. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2014/08/PI_Social-networks-and-debate_082614.pdf [PDF format, 44 pages].

Net Threats

On July 7, 2014, in Science & Technology, by editor1

Pew Research Internet Project. July 3, 2014.

As Internet experts look to the future of the Web, they have a number of concerns. This is not to say they are pessimistic: the majority of respondents to this 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing say they hope that by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online today. And they said they expect that technology innovation will continue to afford more new opportunities for people to connect. Still, some express wide levels of concern that this yearning for an open Internet will be challenged by trends that could sharply disrupt the way the Internet works for many users today as a source of largely unfettered content flows. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2014/07/Future-of-the-Internet_Net-Threats_070314.pdf [PDF format, 40 pages].

Congressional Research Service. July 2, 2014.

As congressional policy makers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major point of contention is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” There is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality.” However, most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. What, if any, action should be taken to ensure “net neutrality” has become a major focal point in the debate over broadband regulation.

http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/229374.pdf [PDF format, 25 pages].

Congressional Research Service. June 12, 2014.

As congressional policy makers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major point of contention is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.

http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40616.pdf [PDF format, 25 pages].

Congressional Research Service. May 23, 2014. 

The Internet is often described as a “network of networks” because it is not a single physical entity, but hundreds of thousands of interconnected networks linking hundreds of millions of computers around the world. As such, the Internet is international, decentralized, and comprised of networks and infrastructure largely owned and operated by private sector entities. As the Internet grows and becomes more pervasive in all aspects of modern society, the question of how it should be governed becomes more pressing.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42351.pdf [PDF format, 28 pages].