Autocracy, Anocracy, & Democracy – “Verbal Masterba(bleep!)…” November 15, 2012Posted by Chris Mark in Laws and Leglslation, Politics.
Tags: anocracy, autocracy, Chris Mark, democracy, Dr. Heather Mark, facebook, mark consulting group, politics
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Election season in the US is always interesting. Passions run high and people are quick to proclaim their positions on government and politics. Unfortunately, as many will likely agree, election season also gives voice to many who should probably remain silent.
Recently I was taken to task on Facebook and lectured on the concept of governance and democracy by a particularly obtuse and offensive individual. When I attempted to explain that democracy should NOT be considered a strictly binary proposition and that the US was indeed a democracy, his attacks became personal and I was accused of (among other things) “verbal masturbation”. According to this master of the English language: “Most folks like me would call your ideas verbal masturbation. They sound good from the outside but are really kinda stupid”…he actually wrote: “Kinda”…somehow this person drew a line between my comments on democracy and his belief that the federal government would force parents to stand by while their 12 year old daughters got abortions without consent. I am at a loss as to the logic… But…I digress. Back to democracy!
To understand governance and democracy it is important to understand the concepts. One great resource is the Polity IV project. Democracy, while seemingly simple, can be a quite difficult concept to explain especially when considering the many different governments in the World. The Polity project attempts to quantify and qualify governance and code them based upon their level of autocracy to democracy.
First…let’s understand democracy. Wikipedia states that Democracy:
“… is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”
At its core, democracy is principle of government by the people. So why the confusion and what is the relevance of the Polity IV study? Good questions!
Democracy, as described by the Polity study, is defined by three factors. Each democratic government may implement these in different ways. Democracy requires the “…existence of Processes and Institutions through which citizens can 1) affect their government 2) constrain the power exercised by the executive and 3) guarantee civil liberties.” (BTW: You can read this in Dr. Heather Mark’s Dissertation found here.)
There are numerous forms and styles of democratic governments. There are direct democracies in which citizens take part in the process directly. There are representative democracies (like the US) where the citizens vote for representatives who then represent the interests of their constituents. Each of these general types of government then have sub-types. The US is a Presidential Republic, the UK is a Parliamentary Republic, and so on. It is much like dogs. All Rottweillers are dogs but not all dogs are Rottweillers. So is a Poodle more of a dog than a German Shepard? It is this type of question that the Polity study addresses. The Polity study ranks each form of government based upon the ‘democratization’ of the government. Countries can be more autocratic or more democratic. All governments will find themselves somewhere on the spectrum. Governments with a score of +6 to +10 are counted as democracies, with the higher scores representing more democratic governments. A perfect 10 is reserved for those that are absolutely democratic. Those who range from a -5 to a +5 are considered Anocracies. As Polity states: “Anocracies are a middling category rather than a distinct form of governance. They are countries whose governments are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic but, rather, combine an, often, incoherent mix of democratic and autocratic traits and practices.” Those with a score -6 to a -10 are Autocratic with a -10 representing complete autocracy.
All governments will fall somewhere in the spectrum. Simply because the United States is a Presidential Republic does NOT mean we are NOT a democracy any more than the ugly dog down the street is NOT a dog because it does not look like my rugged, handsome, purebred Rottweiller (he is good looking but not very smart, sad to say…and still pees in the house!). While the US System of democracy is implemented one way, the UK system is implemented another way. There are benefits and drawbacks to each but each IS a democratic system of government.
Mobile Privacy October 12, 2012Posted by Heather Mark in InfoSec & Privacy, Laws and Leglslation, privacy.
Tags: Dr. Heather Mark, Heather Mark, Location Privacy Protection Act, mark consulting group, mobile privacy, privacy
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Smartphones have changed the way we interact with our world. They’ve introduced a new level of convenience, but they’ve also introduced a new potential threat to our privacy. As consumers, we should be informed about the choices that we make on our smartphones and how they might impact us. For example, I upgraded my iPhone to iOS 6 this afternoon. (I know. I’m a little late on that one.) Anyway, when I was done I got two prompts. The first asked if I wanted to enable location services. I said yes, knowing that meant that 1) I could use the “find my phone” app, as well as many other apps that come in handy for a frequent traveler, and; 2) that it meant that Apple would have access to my location data. The next prompt suggested that Apple could improve its products and services if I just allowed my phone to send occasional reports to headquarters. That one I declined. I don’t necessarily want Apple to have access to all of my activities on my smartphone.
Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that my simple selection means that I have safely secured my data and mobile behavior entirely. There are companies that are taking advantage of the fact that privacy laws have not kept pace with technology. We know for example, that there are companies that offer device fingerprinting services for fraud prevention that also happen to sell mobile device behavior analytics to marketers. Consumers don’t have any way of knowing that their behavior is being tracked and they have no way to opt out.
This week, Sen. Franken (D-Minn) and Sen. Blumenthal (D-Conn) introduced a bill designed to protect mobile privacy. The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2011 is meant to protect consumer privacy by informing users of how and with whom their location data is shared. There are four primary requirements of the bill. Distilled to their basics, those requirements are:
1) Gain consumer consent before collecting location data
2) Get consumer consent before sharing that data
3) Assist in understanding and investigating crimes that involve the misuse of location data
4) create criminal penalties for those that abuse location services or use so-called “stalking apps.”
While I applaud the move to ensure that mobile users are protected from entities divulging their location without the knowledge or consent of the consumer, I wonder if the law goes far enough in protecting consumer privacy. What about those device fingerprinting activities? Do you think the proposed bill goes far enough? Too far? What would you like to see in terms of mobile privacy protection?
Because I Said So September 23, 2012Posted by Heather Mark in cybersecurity, Industry News, InfoSec & Privacy, Laws and Leglslation, Politics.
Tags: cybercrime, cybersecurity, data security, Dr. Heather Mark, Heather Mark, InfoSec
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Last week, Democratic leaders made some minor news when they sent a letter to President Obama suggesting that he issue an executive order on Cybersecurity. Their position is that, since Congress seems to be at loggerheads over the issue, the president should take the opportunity to force action by issuing an Executive Order. In fact, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told a congressional committee that just such an order was in its final stages. So what might we see in this forthcoming order?
According to reports, the order will attempt to regulate sixteen “critical” industries. The guidelines will be voluntary, after a fashion. Compliance with the standards may determine eligibility for federal contracts. The White House has not made any secret about its intentions on Cybersecurity. In fact, the White House website lists “Ten Near Term Actions to Support Our Cybersecurity Strategy.” Brevity prevents me from getting into a deep discussion about those actions here, but you can read them and draw your own conclusions.
The questions remain, however – 1) how stringent (read intrusive) will the requirements be?; 2) Will they be relevant to the threats in the landscape?; 3) How will compliance be policed? and 4) How much additional cost are we potentially adding our already stretched budgets?
Another question that merits examination is whether or not the standards will be redundant. Many industries are already straining under the weight of a variety of infosec requirements – whether industry-regulated or government mandated? Will another layer of regulation mean increased efficacy of data protection strategies and mandates or will it be just another layer of red tape?
Tags: democracy, Dr. Heather Mark, Egypt, Isreal, mark consulting group, US foreign policy, USAID
Heather Mark completed her PhD in Public Policy & Public Administration ‘several year’ ago. Her Dissertation was titled: “The Role of the United States Foreign Policy in the Global Adoption of Democratic Governance”. The US has long espoused the position of supporting democracy. Does the US actually practice what it preaches? Here is an excerpt from Heather’s dissertation:
“As the twentieth century wore on, however, the threats to democracy became less specific, but presidents and policymakers continued to use the ideology to frame their policy statements. This begs the question: “Do the actions of the United States actually further the cause of democracy, as policymakers indicate?” If the U.S. public knew the effect of U.S. actions on democracy, would the rhetoric still be as effective?”
Download and read her dissertation here. Make your own decisions regarding the US’s role.