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].

Pew Research Internet Project. May 14, 2014.

The report is an analysis of opinions about the likely expansion of the Internet of Things, a catchall phrase for the array of devices, appliances, vehicles, wearable material, and sensor-laden parts of the environment that connect to each other and feed data back and forth. It covers the over 1,600 responses that were offered specifically about the authors’ question about where the Internet of Things would stand by the year 2025. It includes some of the best and most provocative of the predictions survey respondents made when specifically asked to share their views about the evolution of embedded and wearable computing and the Internet of Things. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2014/05/PIP_Internet-of-things_0514141.pdf [PDF format, 66 pages].

Congressional Research Service. May 2, 2014.

Modern U.S. government-funded international broadcasting began during World War II with the creation of the Voice of America, and continued throughout the Cold War period with Radio Free Europe broadcasting behind the Iron Curtain, and Radio Liberty targeting populations in the former Soviet Union. Over the decades, VOA expanded its broadcasting and language services into other regions of the world, including the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Later, new services for Cuba and East Asia were initiated. Most recently, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, significant new resources and services were introduced to reach the peoples of the Middle East and Central and South Asia. For almost as long as these services have been in existence, debates over the effectiveness, strategic direction, and necessity of U.S. international broadcasting have persisted. Since the creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors in the 1990s, and its establishment as an independent government agency in 1999, arguments over its structure, as a government agency headed by a nine-member bi-partisan Board, have only added to these debates.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43521.pdf [PDF format, 25 pages].

The White House. Executive Office of the President. May 2014.

Advances in information technology have led to many new ways to collect data, analyze, and use data in ever expanding volumes. Big data holds tremendous potential to benefit society and contribute to economic growth, yet it also presents new challenges related to individual privacy. In January, President Obama asked his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to analyze the technological dimension of this big data transformation and its significance for the future of privacy. This report examines what distinguishes big data from data at smaller scales, how the infrastructure for handling big data is evolving through services such as cloud computing, how approaches to analyzing big data are evolving and what insights they are yielding, the opportunities and limitations technology offers in protecting privacy, and what these and other technical factors imply for public policy. It discusses a number of domains (e.g. health care, education) that accumulate big data and explores ways it can be used. Both technology and policy play important roles in protecting privacy. This report concludes that technical measures alone are not sufficient for protecting privacy.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/big_data_privacy_report_may_1_2014.pdf [PDF format, 85 pages].