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Will there be a remaking of internet governance?

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Will there be a remaking of internet governance?

Alex Helling's picture
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The World Conference on International Telecommunications is just starting in Dubai and it could have immense consequences as it is meeting to consider the governance of the internet. It could therefore affect us all by setting out the relationship between governments and the internet. It is the International Telecommunications Regulations that are to be negotiated and as with other large international agreements and negotiations there is no certainty that there will be any agreement at all but what is sure is that there will be numerous competing blocks and ideas. For a start there is the question of who pays for web content; is it the sender or the user. This is not really a big issue in countries that already have a web infrastructure and where the constraints on paying for the internet are not great but could have an immense impact on less developed countries. The mobile operators want countries to establish their own networks and pay for their development so meaning the operators don’t need to engage in this large outlay themselves.

This is however not the only fault line that is likely to be apparent another is likely to be over differing models of internet governance; should the internet remain under the (benevolent) thumb of the United States through ICANN, should it go to the ITU, or should there be a new body in control of internet governance? So far internet governance has been characterised more by a lack of governance rather than governance and this is something many states would like to change internationally, something that many worry would place in jeopardy the internet’s openness. Russia and China in particular have been advocating for much more control over the internet by states with Russia’s proposal advocating that “Member States shall have equal rights to manage the Internet” and “Member States shall have the sovereign right to establish and implement public policy… on matters of Internet governance, and to regulate the national Internet segment”. The stated intention is to give more power to non-western states which as in the IMF and World bank have in the past had little influence on internet governance. But their proposals are not the only ones; India and Brazil also have their own competing ideas. Yet all of this is rejected by many such as Vint Cerf who argues "A state-controlled system of regulation is not only unnecessary, it would almost invariably raise costs and prices and interfere with the rapid and organic growth of the internet we have seen since its commercial emergence in the 1990s."

Debatabase debate ‘Should a new global body, the United Nations Committee for Internet Related Policies, take over internet governance?’ http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/international/should-new-global-body-united-nations-committee-internet-related-policies

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20575844

http://files.wcitleaks.org/public/S12-WCIT12-C-0027!R1!MSW-E.pdf

1 year 38 weeks ago
Derp's picture
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I am looking at this event, not closely, but I know of it. Please forgive me if I say anything wrong and feel free to correct me.

The difference in "should" and "would" is astronomical in this case.

I believe that there should not be internet governance at all, much less international internet governance. If control by one government is bad enough that the citizens of that government has to satisfy the false security in exchange for liberty, what happens when those citizens have to suffer the same fate, from 1289 from countries all over the world and even 5 telecommunication organizations? http://files.wcitleaks.org/public/S12-WCIT12-ADM-0004!!PDF-E_18Nov.pdf

Would there be internet governance? Seeing as how this has no proper civilian oversight and no advocacy groups to present their stances, ITRs and ITU have a very vague interpretation to amendments with no enforcement or dispute resolution; any member state can do anything they wanted. How can something be pressed onto the populace without both sides and an objective view on such a huge topic? http://www.lawfareblog.com/2012/11/wcit-12-an-opinionated-primer-and-hys...

I don't believe there should be internet governance, especially international or intergovernmental. However, I believe there will be.

1 year 38 weeks ago
Alex Helling's picture
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I was asking the 'would' precicely because I thought it was pretty certain that most internet users would be against online governance whereas I am much less sure whether it will happen or what form it will take when it does. Notably in the Global Internet User Survey 2012 on the question 'who would you trust most to manage the global internet?' only 8% said Multi-national non-governmental organisations and 6% the United Nations compared to 21% for Software or search engine companies and 24% for Telecommunications companies or Internet Service Providers.

1 year 38 weeks ago
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