Friday, December 17, 2010

Governments shouldn’t have a monopoly on Internet governance



The beauty of the Internet is that it’s not controlled by any one group. Its governance is bottoms-up—with academics, non-profits, companies and governments all working to improve this technological wonder of the modern world. This model has not only made the Internet very open—a testbed for innovation by anyone, anywhere—it's also prevented vested interests from taking control.

But last week the UN Committee on Science and Technology announced that only governments would be able to sit on a working group set up to examine improvements to the IGF—one of the Internet’s most important discussion forums. This move has been condemned by the Internet Governance Caucus, the Internet Society (ISOC), the International Chamber of Commerce and numerous other organizations—who have published a joint letter (PDF) and launched an online petition to mobilize opposition. Today, I have signed that petition on Google’s behalf because we don’t believe governments should be allowed to grant themselves a monopoly on Internet governance. The current bottoms-up, open approach works—protecting users from vested interests and enabling rapid innovation. Let’s fight to keep it that way.

14 comments:

Adriel Hampton said...

This opens up a very interesting discussion. Corporations have every right to petition government representatives. But Mr. Cerf, now a Google lobbyist, is arguing that they should also get an equal seat at the table.
My opinion: when Google, Facebook, et all become open democracies, let's give them an equal seat at the table with the elected governments of the world.

Beppe Attardi said...

The problem started when ONU, which is an organization of governments, decided to create the "Internet Governance Forum" and many organizations, including ISOC, accepted the idea.
Once you start talking about "governance", which in English means "exercise of authority; control", sooner or later the governments would be attracted by the idea of control.
The IGF should be dismantled, since it has no useful role.
There are many better places to discuss about technical, social and economic issues related to Internet than a place established and controlled by governments.

elliot said...

@Adriel,

What Mr. Cerf is essentially arguing for is ICANN, not for lobbyist's having a seat at the table.

Bottom-up, consensus governance that recognizes the Internet as a global NOT international resource is working because it allows those with knowledge and interest to participate. In contrast, national governments require money and connections to participate. Not my preference.

Ironically, inside of ICANN large corporations are either not represented or tend to work against it and progress through their IP people and lobbyists.

Also, Mr. Cerf's role is advocating for the Open Internet, not for the specific interests of Google. Calling him a lobbyist is inaccurate. Google has lobbyists, but they are not Mr. Cerf.

macbeach said...

I agree with this one.

It gets to be a tricky argument though that the Internet should not be politicized at the global scale while it is clearly being politicized nationally.

If we lived in an Asimov novel the Internet would probably become its own company/country independent of every other entity and wouldn't contain any individuals who were forced to think of it as tubes, highways, or aqueducts.

If only.

Thomas Lowenhaupt said...

When Vint said,

"The beauty of the Internet is that it’s not controlled by any one group. Its governance is bottoms-up—with academics, non-profits, companies and governments all working to improve this technological wonder of the modern world. This model has not only made the Internet very open—a testbed for innovation by anyone, anywhere—it's also prevented vested interests from taking control."

I wonder if Vint/Google also sees that logic applying to city-TLDs? As an advocate of public interest city-TLDs, governed by bottom-up processes, I'd love to hear that Google shares this view and is prepared to join us in formulating effective bottom-up processes for city-TLDs.

Best,

Tom Lowenhaupt, Director
Connecting.nyc Inc.
http://connectingnyc.org

Novack said...

So the brilliant idea is to ask for Corporations power to have the power to rule over Internet?

Are you out of your mind??

--rj said...

@Adriel,

Two of the governments proposing this takeover are China and Saudi Arabia, neither of which are "elected."

I am suspicious of any proposal put forward by either (or especially both) of these countries.

--rj

SystemDoctor said...

I need to stay out from under rocks!! When did the "UN Committee on Science and Technology" gain ANY control over the Internet and it's governance?

Valter Conti said...

In all the democracies the ordinamental execution of powers implies legislative, gouvernamental and judicial separation... why not monetary? informations are money that flows in all the society but it cannot be free like people of information itself becouse they are a fundamental public service for all the nations that serves all the institutions!!
The reaction network model (http://socialcreditinternational.blogspot.com/2010/12/internet-governance-model.html) together with a social credit execution facility (http://socialcreditinternational.blogspot.com/) could be the solution for the public sector in the monetary investment reaction policy activity .

tbrosz said...

"My opinion: when Google, Facebook, et all become open democracies, let's give them an equal seat at the table with the elected governments of the world."

When "Google, Facebook, et al" get the power to force you to do things like governments can, and make all competition illegal, we can talk about making them democracies.

Nations under the total control of megacorporations exist only in science fiction. There are far too many real-world examples of nations under the total control of their governments.

imma said...

and the IGF said 'thou shalt do only what ye governments say' and thus did the internet stop listening to the IGF :-)

tohircicomre said...

I agree with the opinions above.

Internet must stand above all classes, both group and the government should not discriminate.

Shilarea said...

From what I understand the first implementation of internet was through the universities and major organizations and it is my belief that if we are in need of pushing through a major upgrade to ipv6 that it needs to start at these levels and if the government wants to upgrade their systems they will have to follow suit with the rest of us :)

post said...

Can Google explain the difference in Policies between Twitter, Paypal, Amazon, VISA, FaceBook and Google itself regarding Wikileaks.org. How much influence USA government had in bring down Wikileaks Web Site and does Google support this actions. If yes then why can't all the states of the world under one banner control the Internet because right now USA has all the control. Note: I am against the INTERNET control by the states but the reality in practice right now it shows otherwise. (example way Paypal, Amazon work).