The Commerce Department has second thoughts about surrendering America’s online oversight.
From the Wall Street Journal
L. Gordon Crovitz
April 13, 2014 6:51 p.m. ET
Less than a month after announcing its plan to abandon U.S. protection of the open Internet in 2015, the White House has stepped back from the abyss. Following objections by Bill Clinton, a warning letter from 35 Republican senators, and critical congressional hearings, the administration now says the change won’t happen for years, if ever.
“We can extend the contract for up to four years,” Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling told Congress last week, referring to the agreement under which the U.S. retains ultimate control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann. If the administration makes good on that reassurance, it would punt the decision to 2019 and the next president.
Mr. Strickling originally linked the end of U.S. control to the September 2015 expiration date of the current Icann agreement. He backtracked at a Hudson Institute conference last week: “We did not intend that to be a deadline after which ‘bad things’ would happen. There has been some misapprehension that we were trying to impose a deadline on this process. We weren’t.” Fadi Chehade, Icann’s CEO, agreed. “There is no deadline,” he said. “The U.S. has many years on the contract.”
In an interview, Mr. Chehade assured me that he understands why supporters of the open Internet want the U.S. to retain its oversight role, which keeps countries like Russia and China from meddling. “I’m worried, too,” he said. “There’s no question that governments like power and certain governments will always try to take control of the Internet, so we will have to be careful.”
The Commerce Department tasked Icann to come up with a plan to invite authoritarian governments to participate while still keeping the Internet open. This is likely impossible—and wholly unnecessary. Nongovernmental “multi-stakeholders,” such as engineers, networking companies and technology associations, now run the Internet smoothly. They are free to do so because the U.S. retains ultimate control over Internet domains, blocking authoritarian regimes from censoring or otherwise limiting the Internet outside their own countries.
The Obama administration proposal would have treated other governments as equal stakeholders, turning the concept of private-sector self-governance on its head. Robert McDowell, a former commissioner at the Federal Communication Commission, pointed out at the Hudson Institute event that “‘multi-stakeholder’ historically has meant no government,” not many governments.
Mr. Strickling tried to deflect criticism in his testimony: “No one has yet to explain to me the mechanism by which any of these individual governments could somehow seize control of the Internet as a whole.” The senior State Department official involved in Internet governance, Daniel Sepulveda, similarly claimed at the Hudson Institute: “Governments can no more take over Icann than Google GOOGL +1.38% can take over Icann.”
These are false assurances. Steve DelBianco of the NetChoice trade association gave this example in congressional testimony: Under Icann rules, a majority of governments can simply vote to end the current consensus approach and switch to majority voting. China and Iran are already lobbying for this change. Russia, China and other governments switched to majority voting to outfox the U.S. at a conference of the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, in 2012. Mr. Sepulveda called that an “anomaly,” but the result was an 89-55 vote for a treaty giving U.N. legitimacy to governments cutting off the open Internet in their countries. This division of the Internet into open and closed networks goes into effect next year.
The Obama administration somehow thinks sacrificing U.S. control of Icann will satisfy regimes eager further to undermine the open Internet. Mr. Strickling argues: “Taking this action is the best measure to prevent authoritarian regimes from expanding their restrictive policies beyond their borders.” The opposite is true. Granting these countries access to Icann and the root zone filenames and addresses on the Internet would give them the potential to close off the global Internet, including for Americans, by deciding rules for how all websites anywhere must operate.
The letter sent by Republican senators identified a dozen criticisms of the plan. They asked why it’s in the U.S. interest to cede control and how control could be regained once lost.
The senators also asked to see the legal opinion claiming the executive branch has the power to transfer control of the Internet without congressional approval. A bill called the Internet Stewardship Act was introduced in the House to mandate congressional approval before any change is made. Unanimous congressional resolutions starting in 2005 have called on the U.S. to retain control over Icann.
If Mr. Obama still thinks giving up U.S. protection of the open Internet and its multi-stakeholder community is such a great idea, he should ask Congress to vote on it. He won’t, because there is zero chance that an Abandon the Internet Act would ever pass.
CompTIA has raised the prices for their exams effective January 1, 2014.
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Effective January 1, 2014 the new CompTIA exam prices have increased as follows:
CompTIA A+ Certification – The prices for both the CompTIA A+ 220-801 and CompTIA A+ 220-802 exams have been raised from $183.00 to $188.00.
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CompTIA is raising the price of all their exams effective January 1, 2014.
The price of the CompTIA A+ Certification, Network+ Certification, Security+ Certification and all the other CompTIA exams will go up 3% starting in the new year.
Discount vouchers based on the old prices are still available on Total Seminars’ web site.
Computer science education: The ‘why’ and ‘how’
eSchool News October 30, 2013
Advocates say computer science education is fun–and essential
Calls for more integrated computer science education have increased in recent years as studies show that computer science degrees lead to high-paying jobs that help boost the economy.
Computer science, which includes programming and coding, is the highest-paid college degree and jobs in the field are growing at twice the national average, according to Code.org, but fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with computer science degrees.
Some states are working to change that. In May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that counts Advanced Placement (AP) computer science as a math or science credit. The course previously counted as an elective, meaning that many students passed it over for other courses that would meet graduation requirements.
Forty of 50 states do not count computer science toward math or science requirements for high school graduation, and only 1 in 10 schools offer computer programming classes. That could change, though, if more states make efforts similar to those in Washington.
Recent data indicate that only 35 of the state’s 622 high schools offer AP computer science.
According to data collected by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 150,000 new computing jobs will need to be filled each year for the next 10 years.
Software engineering jobs are expected to grow by 30 percent by 2020, computer and information systems jobs by 18 percent, database administration jobs by 31 percent, and computing programming jobs by 12 percent.
By that time, 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and 400,000 computer science students–a shortage of 1 million, and a lost economic potential of $500 million.
By 2018, there will be almost three times as many job openings that require computer science knowledge as there will be qualified applicants. Employers said they struggle finding enough applicants with technical knowledge required for computer-related positions.
Students’ lack of interest in this subject doesn’t begin when they get to college, however–it starts much earlier, and experts say that the sooner students develop an interest in and a love for computer science, the better.
Fewer than 1/4 of students are able to enroll in rigorous computer science courses. In fact, 2011 data show that fewer and fewer high schools are offering AP computer science tests: only 2,100 in 2011–a 25 percent decrease from five years ago. When students do take the AP test, those tests account for just .69 percent of all high school AP tests.
Other nations are boosting computer science education. Scotland revised its school curriculum and places a major focus on computer science. In South Korea, many middle and high schools teach introductory computer science, and the subject will be a major part of a proposed new curriculum. Israel initiated an intense review of school computing courses and now has one of the most rigorous high school computer science programs in the world. In the past seven years, India has tripled the number of bachelor-equivalent degrees conferred.
Experts say that helping students develop and sustain an interest in computer science through in- and after-school activities could help students take that interest with them to college and the workforce. Ensuring that students have the opportunity to explore computer science and move past traditional stereotypes opens the field up to many more.