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  • Philippe Jougleux of the School of Law at the European University Cyprus investigates the notion of freedom of speech in the context of European Union law in the International Journal of Electronic Governance.

    He analyses the general legal regulation of online freedom of expression with reference to the three-part test and the specific case of hate speech. He also then shows how copyright law, as a case study, is related to the balancing of rights as applied by the courts with respect to the mechanism of blocking orders. Online freedom of expression is also considered in some detail.

    Free speech is considered a critical part of democracy. Everyone is seen as being entitled to their opinion and their right to express it provided it does not break specific laws surrounding bigotry and incitement to violence and riot, for instance. Moreover, while everyone has the right to freedom of speech, their fellow citizens have the counterpart right to ignore those opinions. Jougleux considers the relatively novel and fragile concept of "neutrality" in this context.

    In terms of what we might refer to as the online world, or digital realm, of social media, podcasts, and websites, the online intermediaries – the service and application (app) providers – are essentially protected by the freedom of expression only as a mean to an end. This means that their systems allow users within a democratic jurisdiction to be able to express their opinions and to receive information only insofar as that is not in breach of the law.

    Jougleux, P. (2019) 'Redefining freedom of speech in the digital environment from an EU law perspective', Int. J. Electronic Governance, Vol. 11, Nos. 3/4, pp.401–417.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2019.103728

  • Social media applications, such as Twitter, are becoming increasingly important modes of information dissemination especially in times of crises, where individuals can provide insight and information to those involved and those outside in a much more timely manner than traditional media. Writing in the International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies, researchers from Greece explain how they have analysed the rumour mill that is social media, with specific reference to Twitter.

    "Twitter users collectively cover the main aspects of disasters from many angles," the team found. They suggest that official agencies should recognise just how important social media can be during a crisis and see it as a potential tool not only for informal social reporting but also for providing collective intelligence at "ground zero". By bearing this in mind it could be possible to use it as a tool to help those attempting to manage a crisis, whether a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or large-scale industrial accident, to adapt to the situation to endless uncertainties and to ensure conservation of life and the environment.

    The team shows how personal anxiety, user reputation, and many other factors feed into the credibility and perceive importance of any given information disseminated on Twitter and whether or not it is considered nothing but rumour or actual fact. Such factors must also be taken into account by so-called stakeholders attempting crisis management as well as those affected by the crisis directly.

    Chondrokoukis, G. and Drakos, I. (2018) 'Emergent uses, as rumour systemic analysis, of Twitter messages during social crises', Int. J. Applied Systemic Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.353–370.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJASS.2018.103770

  • Emissions from Asian slums could be a contributory factor in changing weather patterns, according to work published in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution, perhaps leading to worsening windspeeds, but less rainfall.

    Sat Ghosh and Aditi Palsapure of VIT University, in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India, Alan Gadian and Steve Dobbie of the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, in the School of Earth and Environment, at the University of Leeds, UK, Arkayan Samaddar of the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, at Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, in Pennsylvania, USA, Anuj Sharma of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Cranfield University, Bedford, UK, and Pranav Chandramouli of Fluminance at the Universitaire de Beaulieu, in Rennes, France, provide the details.

    The team explains that climate models have already hinted that local emissions could be affecting the formation and progress of cyclonic storms. They point out that the eastern coast of India, home to several mega cities, is routinely battered by such storms from October to December. These cities, the team explains, house millions of slum dwellers who cook their meals over unseasoned wood fires, which generates vast quantities of airborne biomass particles, which chemically age within the polluted air mass above the cities making them active as cloud condensation nuclei.

    The team has taken as a case study Hurricane Thane, which seems to have been modulated by such transient emissions, leading to devastation of the coast of Tamil Nadu on the 30th December 2011. The team's calculations show that the conversion rate of cloud water to rain was altered by up to 12% with an increase of 20.5% in the amount of water held in clouds rather than falling as rain when pollution effects were present. This could be an ongoing problem for water-scarce region of Southern India.

    Ghosh, S., Gadian, A., Dobbie, S., Samaddar, A., Sharma, A., Chandramouli, P. and Palsapure, A. (2019) 'A meteorological discourse on extreme storm events driven by Asian slum emissions', Int. J. Environment and Pollution, Vol. 65, No. 4, pp.280–292.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2019.103743

  • Research published in the International Journal of Electronic Governance has investigated whether any of five "anonymous" social media applications are secure in that they do not allow a third party to see personal data or track the users.

    Vasileios Chatzistefanou and Konstantinos Limniotis of the Open University of Cyprus, explain how anonymization of personal data should protect user privacy from data mining and data publishing systems. However, this may well not always be the case. Indeed, removing personal identifiers does not ensure privacy as there are techniques that can easily be employed to build a unique fingerprint based on the characteristics of the data itself, which then be used to home in on the identity of a user with or without additional information.

    It has been known for a long time that three pieces of information – birth date, sex and zip code – can be used to identify 87 percent of the US population. Moreover, if such information is not available to another party wishing to de-anonymize activity on a given device or in an application, then data points such as identity mobile subscriber identity (IMSI), media access control (MAC) address, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), Android ID, Google Advertising ID (GAID), and so on, can be used to focus on what is essentially a unique fingerprint for a given device and thence perhaps the user. Anonymity cannot be guaranteed, it seems within any system or application regardless of promises and regardless of regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for citizens of the European Union (EU).

    Fundamentally, "Our analysis concludes that there is personal data processing in place even in so-called anonymous applications which in turn implies that a user's anonymity cannot be ensured, whilst the corresponding privacy policies may leave room for further improvement," the team writes.

    Chatzistefanou, V. and Limniotis, K.(2019)'Anonymity in social networks: the case of anonymous social media', Int. J. Electronic Governance, Vol. 11, Nos. 3/4, pp.361–385.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2019.103720

  • A cold-blood marine animal, such as the giant squid, Architeuthis, might be one of the few beneficiaries of global warming. Given that its axonic activity is limited by the environmental temperature at which it finds itself, even small increases can lead to a reduction in entropy making living fundamentally easier for the squid, according to research published in the International Journal of Global Warming.

    Bahar Hazal Yalçinkaya of the Department of Genetics and Bioengineering at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering there, and Bayram Yilmaz of the Department of Physiology at Yeditepe University Hospital, also in Istanbul, point out that there are several types of creature that have been shown to thrive in the face of global warming. For instance, there is evidence that many pest species, weeds, and parasites fare better in the face of climate change. And, in the marine environment, it seems so do squid.

    The team has looked at why this might be the case for the latter. Their thermodynamic analysis of information transmission in the squid giant axon, or nerve cell, shows a definitely lower increase in entropy when the environmental temperature rose. The team suggests this is reflected in an easier life for the squid at a higher temperature, offering an explanation as to why they might thrive under global warming conditions.

    Yalçinkaya, B.H., Yilmaz, B. and Özilgen, M. (2019) 'Thermodynamic assessment of information transmission in squid's giant axon may explain why squid populations thrive with global warming', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp.233–250.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJGW.2019.103722

  • A statistical approach could be used to allow a communication system to carry out self-optimisation, according to research published in the International Journal of Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems.

    Jose Aguilar, Kristell Aguilar, and José Torres of the Universidad de Los Andes, in Mérida, Venezuela, have proposed an autonomic communication system based on a Bayesian network and an ontology, which allows the system itself to make reconfiguration decisions. The ontology provides the necessary knowledge about performance factors and the relationships within the network. The statistical system then adjusts factors within the system to optimise performance based on that knowledge, acting as a stochastic reasoning mechanism.

    The team has demonstrated in simulations how their approach improves performance significantly particularly for scenarios where there are high reconfiguration requirements. The adaptive self-optimising approach improves flow rate, reduces loss rate, and minimises delay within the system.

    Aguilar, J., Aguilar, K. and Torres, J. (2019) 'Design of an autonomic communication system', Int. J. Autonomous and Adaptive Communications Systems, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.299–330.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJAACS.2019.103671

  • Researchers from Australia and Germany have compared the national eHealth strategies in their respective countries and the compared and contrasted findings are combined in their report in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations.

    Isabella Eigner, Andreas Hamper, and Freimut Bodendorf of FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, and Nilmini Wickramasinghe of Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, explain how the healthcare systems of the two countries share many traits in insurance and management and how both nations have initiated strategies to utilise information and communications technology (ICT) in healthcare, so-called eHealth. The aim being to improve healthcare by using digital services and raising service efficiency, reducing costs, and most importantly improving and patient outcomes as a result.

    The team points out that while Australia has focused on a platform-based approach, which was originally known as the "personally controlled electronic health record", Germany has introduced a mandatory "electronic health card" for people with public health insurance. Their comparison of the effects of such steps in each country reveals the pros and cons of each approach in the context of two different nations, which might be used to improve the implementation of eHealth strategies elsewhere or offer the necessary detail to allow those already in place in Australia, Germany, and other countries to be improved.

    Eigner, I., Hamper, A., Wickramasinghe, N. and Bodendorf, F. (2019) 'Success factors for national eHealth strategies: a comparative analysis of the Australian and German eHealth system', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp.399–424.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2019.103681

  • A review of the state-of-the-art in urban planning for sustainable cities has been undertaken by Rosario Adapon Turvey of Lakehead Universit in Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Details are reported in the International Journal of the Sustainable Society and suggest that challenges and current perspectives discerned from the research literature might point the way towards a sustainable future based on a thorough understanding of the trends and developments taking place around the world.

    "Recent intellectual inquiry has centred on the conceptualisation and knowledge production in creating sustainable cities," Turvey explains, while pointing out that although the current review may not be exhaustive it does reveal the current progress. The ultimate goal, she writes, is to provide local authorities, practitioners and/or city governments with some perspective and guidance in working towards urban sustainability in the future.

    Research into sustainability has grown considerably in the last few decades. Indeed, great rigour has emerged since the 1980s and the discipline is maturing quickly. "Sustainability has been taken as a planning concept that had its beginnings in ecological thinking and economics and now widely applied to studies in urban development," she adds. Of course, by turns, it has been considered an oxymoron, overworked jargon, and hyperbole. Nevertheless, there is a pressing need to focus on sustainability if we are to surmount many of the problems of fuel and water supply, food security, and to address the problems we face as climate change becomes an increasingly pressing reality.

    "As environmental concerns become part of development discourses, there is a need for optimism in the eventual refinement of the process to create 'sustainable cities' in the future," Turvey concludes.

    Turvey, R.A. (2019) 'Urban planning and sustainable cities', Int. J. Sustainable Society, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.139–161.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2019.103700

  • Uncovering trolls and malicious or spammy accounts on social media is increasingly difficult as the miscreants find more and more ways to camouflage themselves as seemingly legitimate. Writing in the International Journal of Intelligent Engineering Informatics, researchers in India have developed an algorithm based on ant-colony optimisation that can effectively detect accounts that represent a threat to normal users.

    Asha Kumari and Balkishan Department of Computer Science and Applications at Maharshi Dayanand University, in Rohtak, India, explain that the connections between twitter users are analogous to the pheromone chemical communication between ants and this can be modeled in an algorithm based on how ant colonies behave to reveal the strongest connections in the twitter network and so uncover the accounts that one might deem as threatening to legitimate users.

    The team's tests on their system were successful in terms of precision, recall, f-measure, true-positive rate, and false-positive rate based on 26 features examined by the system played against almost 41500 user accounts attracted to honeypots. Moreover, they report that the approach is superior to existing techniques. The team adds that they hope to be able to improve the system still further by adding so-called machine learning into the algorithm so that it can be trained to better identify threatening accounts based on data from known threats and legitimate accounts.

    Kumari, A. and Balkishan (2019) 'Detection of threatening user accounts on Twitter social media database', Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 7, No. 5, pp.457–489.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIEI.2019.103626

  • Are customers willing to pay more for mass customised products? That is the question a research team in Australia hoped to answer in the latest issue of the International Journal of Mass Customisation.

    Hassan Kalantari of the Department of Science, Engineering and Technology and Lester Johnson of the Department of Management and Marketing at Swinburne University of Technology in Hawthorn, Victoria worked together on the conundrum. The team carried out a conjoint analysis, a market research technique, to see whether there is a trade-off between price, delivery waiting time, type of customisation in the niche market of walking stick sales in Australia. The market may well be niche, but it is large, and moreover, the team suggests that their approach could easily be used to study other mass markets that offer customization of products.

    The work hinges on the gradual change that manufacturers have seen in many areas of sales where customers are no longer happy to accept the off-the-shelf products being offered but hope to have bespoke products tailored to their exacting requirements. It is inevitable that without the economies of scale that mass production provides, companies will be forced to charge more for their products, but will customers be willing to pay more?

    The team found that customers are indeed willing to pay more for a customised product but are often also willing to wait longer for delivery provided they receive a discount on the price.

    Kalantari, H.D. and Johnson, L.W. (2019) 'Willingness to pay and wait for mass customised products', Int. J. Mass Customisation, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp.111–129.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJMASSC.2019.103632


New Editor for International Journal of Space-Based and Situated Computing

Dr. Flora Amato from the University of Naples Federico II in Italy has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Space-Based and Situated Computing.

International Journal of Migration and Border Studies featured in World Migration Report 2020

The International Journal of Migration and Border Studies (IJMBS) has been featured in International Organization for Migration's (IOM) World Migration Report 2020. This flagship comprehensive report provides the latest information on migration and an analysis of emerging migration issues. IJMBS was selected as one of the eight peer-reviewed migration-related journals presented in the chapter dedicated to Migration Research and Analysis, which includes an overview of scholarly articles published by the journals selected in 2017 and 2018. Editors were asked to provide an overview of their journals' key contributions for this two-year period. According to IOM, "this exercise allowed for deeper insights into journal contributions, highlighting their similarities as well as different interests and areas of focus, including thematically and geographically" (p. 135).

New Editor for International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management

Prof. Yu Xiong from Northumbria University in the UK has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Chinese Culture and Management.

New Editor for International Journal of Electronic Healthcare

Associate Prof. James Ma from the University of Colorado in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Electronic Healthcare.

Editor in Chief of International Journal of Multicriteria Decision Making becomes Honorary Doctor for University of Western Macedonia

Prof. Constantin Zopounidis, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Multicriteria Decision Making, has recently been appointed as Honorary Doctor at the University of Western Macedonia's School of Economics. Further details are available here.