eWeek Editorial Board Takes Stances on Important Issues of 2006

Search engines shouldn't give user information to governments, and companies need to place more emphasis on preventing data loss.

In 2006, we voiced opinions in this space on a wide range of issues that we believe are of vital interest to you, our readers, as you use IT and the Internet for strategic business advantage. Heres a summary of where we stand:

On the question of net neutrality, we believe the Internet ought to be available impartially to all users, regardless of size or clout.

We opposed the effort of large telecommunications carriers to punish successful Internet content providers by imposing extortionate access fees. We recognize the likelihood that multitier models will emerge to reflect new QOS (quality of service) technologies, but the Internet should remain a common carrier with nondiscriminatory pricing—by regulation, if necessary—for all.

In the realm of Web search, we believe its wrong for search engine providers to give up user information on demand to governments, and we believe its wrong for those providers to limit searches at the request of governments.

Thus, we opposed the Bush administrations attempts to obtain data on Internet users search activities and applauded Googles stand in opposition. However, we believe Google was wrong to limit search access in China and that it was wrong for Microsofts Chinese Internet portal to filter words such as "freedom" and "democracy" to placate Chinese authorities.

In the areas of privacy and security, a single stolen laptop compromised the confidentiality of the personal information of 26.5 million U.S. veterans. Such losses can be prevented, but only if custodians of data understand the seriousness of whats at stake. Compensation of $1,000 to each affected individual would result in fines—$26.5 billion in the case of the Department of Veterans Affairs—that are bound to get the attention of irresponsible organizations.

Regarding Microsofts commercial business model, which is antithetical to the principles of open-source software, Redmond took some positive steps in 2006 that recognize the reality of open source in enterprises and the need for its own products to interoperate with it.

Microsofts indemnification deal with Novell was ambiguous, but Microsoft also took a pledge not to sue developers of customers who implement 35 particular Web service specifications, enumerated on Microsofts Web site. Microsoft deserves credit for that progress.

There is no guarantee of American pre-eminence in the Internet economy of the future. Ubiquitous broadband access and IPv6 implementation will help make U.S. infrastructure competitive globally. And we need to fill the engineering gap by offering incentives to U.S. students to study engineering, math and science.

With best wishes for 2007—the eWeek Editorial Board.

eWeeks Editorial Board consists of Jason Brooks, Peter Coffee, Stan Gibson, Scot Petersen and David Weldon.


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