Table of contents
Part 1
What are ICT and internet policies?
Part 2
The internet, markets and access
Part 3
National ICT and internet policy and regulation
Part 4
Specific issues in internet policy and regulation
Part 5
Organisations active in ICT

  26. Glossary

Like spyware, this is software that installs itself on another computer without the owner’s knowledge, and in certain situations places advertisements on the screen

Bandwidth: The amount of information that can be sent through a connection (usually measured in bits-per-second). Bandwidth is the range between the highest and lowest frequencies on a channel; more commonly, the amount of data that can flow through a channel at the same time. In either case, the capacity of a telecommunications channel is measured by its bandwidth.

Blog: Short for Web log, a blog is a Web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author.

Browser: Short for Web browser, a software used to locate and display Web pages. Most can display graphics and text as well as present multimedia information including sound and video.

Circuit switching: the traditional way of information or electrical flow, where cutting the circuit means the end of the flow. Different from packet switching, where the information is divided up and sent in individual packets, which can find alternative routes to their destination if one route is blocked or cut.

A message given to a web browser by a web server. The browser stores the message in a text file. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server. The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customised web pages for them. Web sites use cookies for several different reasons: to collect demographic information about who is visiting the Web site; to personalise the user’s experience on the Web site, and; to monitor advertisements. Any personal information that you give to a Web site, including credit card information, will most likely be stored in a cookie unless you have turned off the cookie feature in your browser.

A set of specific rights to content use, manipulation, and distribution that the law grants content creators, leaving all other rights to the public. A copyright is an intellectual property protection granted to literary, musical and artistic works, including drawings, poems, films, written publications, and software.

The art of protecting information by transforming it (encrypting it) into an unreadable format, called cipher text. Only those who possess a secret key can decipher (or decrypt) the message into plain text. As the internet and other forms of electronic communication become more prevalent, electronic security is becoming increasingly important. Cryptography is used to protect email messages, credit card information, and corporate data. Cryptography systems can be broadly classified into symmetric-key systems that use a single key that both the sender and recipient have, and public-key systems that use two keys, a public key known to everyone and a private key that only the recipient of messages uses.

A metaphor for describing the non-physical terrain created by computer systems. Online systems, for example, create a cyberspace within which people can communicate with one another (via email), do research, or simply window shop. Like physical space, cyberspace contains objects (files, mail messages, graphics, etc.) and different modes of transportation and delivery. Unlike real space, though, exploring cyberspace does not require any physical movement other than pressing keys on a keyboard or moving a mouse. The term was coined by author William Gibson in his sci-fi novel Neuromancer (1984).

Digital Divide: “Although often framed as an issue of extremes, the digital divide refers to a collection of complex factors that affect whether an individual, social group, country or region has access to the technologies associated with the information economy as well as the educational skills to achieve optimal application of those technologies”, from “Analysis of the Digital Divide”, Powerpoint presentation, October 2000, http://

Digital Signatures:
A digital code that can be attached to an electronically transmitted message that uniquely identifies the sender. Like a written signature, the purpose of a digital signature is to guarantee that the individual sending the message really is who he or she claims to be. Digital signatures are especially important for electronic commerce and are a key component of most authentication schemes. To be effective, digital signatures must be unforgeable. There are a number of different encryption techniques to guarantee this level of security.

Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL): A method for moving data over regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection, and the wires coming into the subscriber’s premises are the same (copper) wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to connect two specific locations. They are sometimes referred to as last-mile technologies because they are used only for connections from a telephone switching station to a home or office, not between switching stations.

Encryption: The translation of data into a secret code. Encryption is the most effective way to achieve data security. To read an encrypted file, you must have access to a secret key or password that enables you to decrypt it.

Fair Use: a copyright principle based on the belief that the pub-lic is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. For example, if you wish to criticise a novelist, you should have the freedom to quote a portion of the novelist’s work without asking permission. Without this freedom, copyright owners could stifle any negative comments about their work.

Fair Dealing:
Similar to fair use, used in many common law countries. The main difference is that “fair use” tends to be an openended legal doctrine (the US copyright statute provides factors which contribute to fair use), while “fair dealing” is defined in a constrained manner, through an enumerated list of causes for exemption that allows little room for judicial interpretation.

Free Software: Software that gives the user the freedom to run the programme for any purpose, to study how the programme works and adapt it to the user’s needs through having access to the source code, to redistribute copies in order to help other users, to improve the programme and release it to the public. Access to the source code is a precondition for this. Free software usually uses the GPL licence to ensure that the software remains free. It is different from open source software in its insistence on the social aspects and the benefits for society of free software.

Freeware: Copyrighted software given away for free by the author. Although it is available for free, the author retains the copyright, which means that you can do nothing with it unless it is expressly allowed by the author. Often the author allows people to use the software, but not sell it.

GPL: Short for General Public License, the license that accompanies some open source software that details how the software and its accompany source code can be freely copied, distributed and modified. One of the basic tenets of the GPL is that anyone who acquires the material must make it available to anyone else under the same licensing agreement. The GPL does not cover activities other than the copying, distributing and modifying of the source code. A GPL is also referred to as a copyleft, in contrast to a copyright that identifies the proprietary rights of material.

Hacker: A slang term for a computer enthusiast, that is a person who enjoys learning programming languages and computer systems and can often be considered an expert on the subject. The term is popularly used to refer to individuals who gain unauthorised access to computer systems for the purpose of stealing and corrupting data. Hackers themselves maintain that the proper term for such individuals is cracker.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT): “The means of generating, processing, transporting and presenting information” (OECD).

Intellectual property: Intellectual property (IP) is an intangible thing (you cannot touch it or hold it in your hand) that you can own, similar to the way that you can own tangible things like a car or a plot of land. It can be something that you have written, drawn, designed, invented, or spoken, and it can be something that you have created yourself or paid someone to create for you. Like tangible property, you can buy, sell, exchange or give away intellectual property, and you can control its use by others. However, in order for your intangible thing to qualify as intellectual property so you can gain these rights, you have to be able to distinguish it from similar things. The concept of intellectual property is intended to protect innovations and allow people to make money by selling their ideas. Usually the expression ‘intellectual property’ is used as a legal term to indicate four distinct types of protection given to intangible property: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

Interconnection: The linking together of systems. The linkage used to join two or more communications units, such as systems, networks, links, nodes, equipment, circuits, and devices.

Internet: A worldwide interconnection of individual networks operated by government, industry, academia, and private parties. Note: The internet originally served to interconnect laboratories engaged in government research, and has now been expanded to serve millions of users and a multitude of purposes.

Internet backbone: This super-fast network spanning the world from one major metropolitan area to another is provided by a handful of national internet service providers (ISPs). These organisations (including Net 99 and Alternet) use connections running at approximately 45 mbps (T3 lines) linked up at specified interconnection points called national access points (which are located in major metropolitan areas). Local ISPs connect to this backbone through routers so that data can be carried though the backbone to its destination. Info/Glossary/Terms/internetbackbone.html

Internet Exchange Point (IXP): A physical network infrastructure operated by a single entity with the purpose of facilitating the exchange of internet traffic between ISPs.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): A company that provides access to the internet for companies or individuals.

Internet protocol (IP): A standard protocol designed for use in interconnected systems of packet-switched computer communication networks. Note: The internet protocol provides for transmitting blocks of data called datagrams from sources to destinations, where sources and destinations are hosts identified by fixed-length addresses. The internet protocol also provides for fragmentation and reassembly of long datagrams, if necessary, for transmission through small-packet networks. http://

Local Area Network (LAN): A technique by which many computers in the same physical location can be linked together to communicate or share resources. LANs may be linked to the internet, or they may be self-contained.

Log: Computers, especially servers, keep a record of the machine’s activity, normally in a text file that can be read later. This log can be referenced to find out, for example, who accessed the server and when, with which IP number, what happened at which time, error messages, etc.

MAE: The MCI MAE® Internet Exchange Facilities are the access points where ISPs may interconnect. A significant amount of the traffic that flows between ISP networks passes through the MAE exchanges. ISPs subscribe ports on switches in the MAE facilities and the circuits leading into those ports.

Network Access Point, a point in the routing hierarchy of the Internet that exchanges traffic between major backbones. First proposed by the NFS when it commercialised the internet.

Network: Any time you connect two or more computers together so that they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect two or more networks together and you have an internet.
Open Source Software: Software for which the underlying programming code is available to the users so that they may read it, make changes to it, and build new versions of the software incorporating their changes. There are many types of Open Source Software, mainly differing in the licensing term under which (altered)
copies of the source code may (or must be) redistributed.

A piece of a message transmitted over a packet-switch-ing network. See under packet switching. One of the key features of a packet is that it contains the destination address in addition to the data.

Packet Switching: The method used to move data around on the internet. In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into chunks, each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going. This enables chunks of data from many different sources to mingle on the same lines, and be sorted and directed along different routes by special machines along the way.

Patent: A patent is an intellectual property protection that applies to inventions or designs for inventions, which gives the inventor exclusive rights to make, use, and sell the invention for a certain period of time.

Peer to Peer Networks: Often referred to simply as peer-to-peer, or abbreviated p2p, a type of network in which each workstation has equivalent capabilities and responsibilities. This differs from client/server architectures, in which some computers are dedicated to serving the others. Peer-to-peer networks are generally simpler, but they usually do not offer the same performance under heavy loads.

Portal (Web Portal): A Web site that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web. Typically a Portal site has a catalogue of web sites, a search engine, or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people to use that site as their main point of entry (hence ‘portal’) to the Web.

Price cap regulation: price cap regulation involves regulating the cost to consumers of telecommunication services rather than regulating the companies’ profit. It was first introduced when British Telecom was privatised in 1984. By limiting prices that companies can charge and allowing them to keep profit earned by operating within the cap, price cap regulation is thought to provide an incentive to increase efficiency and productivity. Summarised from CSE: Citizens for a Sound Economy - Issue Analysis 85 – Primer on Price Cap Regulation.

Privatisation: the process whereby functions that were formerly run by the government are delegated instead to the private sector. Privatisation occurs when the government sells a government owned business or service to private interests. This is usually the first step in creating a competitive market for the good or service that the government owned business previously had a monopoly on.

Proxy: A server that sits between a client application, such as a Web browser, and a real server. It intercepts all requests to the real server to see if it can fulfil the requests itself. If not, it forwards the request to the real server. Proxy servers have two main purposes. They can dramatically improve performance for groups of users, because they save the results of all requests for a certain amount of time. Proxy servers can also be used to filter requests.

Shareware: Software distributed on the basis of an honour system. Most shareware is delivered free of charge, but the author usually requests that you pay a small fee if you like the programme and use it regularly. By sending the small fee, you become registered with the producer so that you can receive service assistance and updates. You can copy shareware and pass it along to friends and colleagues, but they too are expected to pay a fee if they use the product.

Spam: Electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. In addition to wasting people’s time with unwanted email, spam also eats up a lot of network bandwidth. Consequently, there are many organisations and individuals, who have taken it upon themselves to fight spam with a variety of techniques. But because the internet is public, there is really little that can be done to prevent spam, just as it is impossible to prevent junk mail.

Spyware: Spyware is any software that covertly gathers user information through the user’s internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programmes that can be downloaded from the internet. Once installed, the spyware monitors user activity on the internet and transmits that information in the background to someone else. Spyware can also gather information about email addresses and even passwords and credit card numbers. Spyware is similar to a Trojan horse in that users unwittingly install it when they install another product. A common way to be-come a victim of spyware is to download certain peer-to-peer file swapping products that are available today.

Aside from the questions of ethics and privacy, spyware steals from the user by using the computer;s memory resources and also by eating bandwidth as it sends information back to the spyware’s home base via the user’s internet connection. Because spyware is using memory and system resources, the applications running in the background can lead to system crashes or general system instability.

Telecentre: There are many different types of telecentres but essentially a telecentre is a physical location where community members have access to ICT hardware, information, a range of social and economic enhancement services, and support systems that facilitate economic and social sustainability of the telecentre itself. The aim of most telecentre projects is to pro-vide public access to ICT and related services for a community that does not have widespread access.

Telecommunications: All types of data transmission, from voice to video

Universal Service: The concept of making basic local telephone service (and, in some cases, certain other telecommunications and information services) available at an affordable price to all people within a country or specified jurisdictional area. http://
Also defined as affordable access to and effective use of the Internet. (O’Siochru)

Voice Over IP (VOIP): Hardware and software that enable people to use the internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls. For users who have free, or fixed-price internet access, internet telephony software provides free telephone calls anywhere in the world.

3G: 3G is an ITU specification for the third generation (analogue cellular was the first generation, digital Personal Communications Services – PCS - the second) of mobile communications technology. 3G promises increased bandwidth.

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