Creating the digital citizen

Nigel Phair

Nigel is Director of the Centre for Internet Safety, University of Canberra and for nearly five years was the Team Leader investigations at the Australian High Tech Crime Centre. He has published two books on the international dimension of cyber crime and lectures widely at Australian academic institutions. Follow Nigel on twitter @nphair

Digital content is the foundation of modern society and the NBN will deliver it super-fast to everyone’s door.  It is in such matter that knowledge is stored and subsequently extracted and exploited, often resulting in social and productivity gains.  It is therefore crucial for this resource to be readily and reliably accessible and for every step in its lifecycle to be adequately supported and enhanced in response to changes in the technology landscape.

With the roll out of trans-national networks comes further creation of content and the subsequent increase in demand – build it and the digital citizen will come.
But what to make of all this new information and how do we protect it?  Data analysis is required to keep pace with the rate of growth of information streams and collection.  This enables novel forms of real time intelligence that only become possible from extremely large data volumes (think Facebook and Google).

But it is not all plain sailing.  Problems with creating the digital society include insufficient R & D; divergent answers to addressing online societal challenges; lack of skills; and, at the end of the spectrum, rising cybercrime and low consumer trust.
These problems are exacerbated by the growth of organisational information, multi-modal information, unstructured data, complexity and interoperability, and even external shocks, like the ongoing global financial crisis.

The business models of Facebook, Google and others rely on transacting (for profit) the data of their users.  Yet these users are unable to push these big players to use their personal data in accordance with data protection rules (think PCI DSS).

Innovators have been able to tap into data and add value beyond its original purposes through data analysis and the ability to reuse and exploit data resources created in one environment for other distant contexts.

Intelligent information management occurs from creating reactive algorithms, solid infrastructure and methodologies that scale extremely large data volumes in real time.

The modern digital citizen will have their life enhanced by having value created through data collection and analysis, but only if it respects their rights and privacy concerns.  Increased economic value of data resources can only occur through the creation of standards for validation, provenance, accountability, access and privacy control.  Self-regulation has not worked to date, meaning the current light-touch of government needs to be readdressed if the goal of the competent, safe and secure digital citizen is to be achieved.

The Internet is a global driver for positive developments and is a key driver in how different societal actors influence us.  The developments that occur, including the aggregation and analysis of data, are not subject to democratic decisions.  To govern the Internet requires global standards. The digital citizen must demand them.

Tags: NBN, cybercrime, Blog, Google, Facebook, PCI DSS, data privacy

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