Can Democracy Withstand the Cyber Age?: 1984 in the 21st Century
David M. Howard
Volume 69, Issue 5, 1355-1378
Democracy has evolved throughout history, and democracy can survive the challenges of the cyber age. However, democracy will be affected by the internet and increased cybersecurity. Cybersecurity and democracy sometimes appear at odds, and the recent cyberattacks on democratic elections show the growing need for strengthened cybersecurity. Yet these efforts to increase cybersecurity must comport with the needs of democracy. This Article describes the potential conflicts between cybersecurity and the foundations of democracy, and argues that for democracy to survive the coming decades, cybersecurity efforts must support the values that sustain our democracy, particularly that of free speech and informed voting. While we are in a dangerous period of modern history, this Article further argues that the requirements of cybersecurity and democracy do not need to be mutually exclusive, but that the internet can enhance democratic institutions.
Media Literacy: A Foundational Skill for Democracy in the 21st Century
Tessa Jolls & Michele Johnsen
Volume 69, Issue 5, 1379-1408
The current focus on the validity, credibility, and trustworthiness of media and information is urgent and global. In the past ten to twenty years, the information landscape has fundamentally changed due to an exponential increase in access to information consumption and production. Meanwhile, the role of traditional filters and gatekeepers that monitor accuracy and balance has been substantially reduced. This transformation has given rise to an unprecedented power shift in the way information is produced, consumed, distributed, trusted, and valued. On one hand, empowered citizens can now learn, participate, share, and express themselves as never before. On the other, abuses such as unintended spread of misinformation, disinformation campaigns by malicious actors, and misuse of personal information have become rampant, and citizens must navigate a complex new media landscape without traditionally trusted resources. The challenge for democracies is to find ways to preserve the freedoms that come with more access to information while minimizing the threats that go along with them.
Modern education’s role in this is to enable students to live, learn, discern, and thrive in a diverse, global media culture, both online and offline. With content readily at hand, education must emphasize information process skills as central to teaching and learning. Media literacy offers empowerment through education and an opportunity to equip all citizens with the skills they need to become lifelong learners who are maximally prepared to navigate and leverage the power of media for their own benefit and that of others. Through media literacy education, students internalize process skillsheuristicsthat become automatic filtering systems to apply to any media content, anywhere, anytime. This approach is compatible with the mobility that most people enjoy through their mobile devices and enables citizens to be better informed participants in today’s media culture. Media literacy practices and pedagogy can be consistent, replicable, measurable and scalable globally, providing an evidence-based methodology for critical thinking, in both the consumption and production of media.
Media literacy provides a pathway to appropriate education for the 21st century. The time is now to prepare all citizens to be effective risk managers, efficient organizers of information, wise consumers, responsible content producers and active participants.
Spreading Like Wildfire: Solutions for Abating the Fake News Problem on Social Media via Technology Controls and Government Regulation
Volume 69, Issue 5, 1409-1431
“Fake news” seems to be the phrase du jour these days. During the 2016 presidential election, fake news and propaganda proliferated on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, with many of the concocted faux sources emanating from Russia and elsewhere. In Fall 2017, tech executives and their lawyers were called to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress as to the influence fake news may have had on the American public during the last election season. In response, technology companies and social media networks are considering implementing various changes to their platforms to help users identify fact from falsehoods.
This Note examines the modifications technology companies are putting in place to ensure accuracy in news reporting. This Note also proposes a legal solution to curb fake news and warns against certain safeguards to avoid implicating First Amendment free speech rights online.
The Spider’s Parlor: Government Malware on the Dark Web
Kaleigh E. Aucoin
Volume 69, Issue 5, 1433-1469
The United States government’s use of what it refers to as “Network Investigative Tools,” presents several constitutional and privacy-related issues. Revelations stemming from the use of these NITsa form of malwarewarrant a difficult discussion on the conflict between public transparency and the level of secrecy required to maintain effective law enforcement. It is especially difficult to focus upon this concern in the context of investigations tackling child pornography, given the unforgiveable nature of crimes against children, and the dire need to apprehend predators. However, the real unease is regarding how online surveillance is conducted, rather than that it is conducted at all. The problem is that unlike certain other forms of technology (for example, phones), there is currently no statutory framework in place to guide law enforcement, the courts, or the public for government hacking. This Note seeks to convey the importance of remaining unblinded by the ends and careful with the means so as not to conflate the significance of the need to capture serious offenders with the justification of ignoring civil liberties.