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IGF Athens Theme Discussion
Openness - Freedom of expression, free flow of information, ideas and knowledge
Control Of The Internet
Topic: Control Of The Internet (Read 17083 times)
Control Of The Internet
October 11, 2006, 10:44:29 AM »
I become very worried when I see any moves to control the Internet. The Internet was conceived and launched as a freespace, indeed the "inventor(s)" deliberately chose, in what must rank as the biggest give away in history, to not make money from it.
Ever since that day two groups have been wringing their hands and wailing.
Firstly governments who cannot believe that they have no control over it, they have no reason for control but feel they must dictate who, when, what and how we use it, just for the sake of it.
Secondly big business cannot believe something is free to use, they feel everything must be paid for and each wants to be first to get a slice of the action. The action they are talking about is to give everything a price ticket and everyone a meter. The net result will be that we will only have access to what is in their interest for us to see.
So it is clearly not in the interests of the user that either gets their sticky hands on it, but the end result of groups such as this may be that both get to stick their snouts in the trough. This is because the people that make the decisions will inevitable be politicians or businessmen, when in reality both groups of which should abstain due to vested interests!
We (the users) must make our views clear whilst we have the chance or it will be too late.
Does the IGF have "ordinary people" on the decision making group, I can already hear the replies of all the big businessmen and politicians now ......... we are ordinary people, you can trust us.
Compiling the IGF's report card
Re: Control Of The Internet
Reply #1 on:
October 18, 2006, 02:25:29 PM »
I certainly hear you. Like-minded members of civil society would warmly welcome your participation. Unfortunately, the whole event is still a bit disorganised at the moment, but there are a number of ways you can have a say and participate even if you are not coming to Athens. Most of these ways are facilitated by the IGF Community Site that Kieren McCarthy and I have put together at
, including blogs, live chat, forums (supplementing this board, as the ability to create new topics is too limited here), polls and a wiki.
Please don't feel it isn't worth contributing just because nobody else seems to be interested. I have a strong conviction that the IGF will be pivotal for the future of the Internet. And I agree with you that the last thing we want to happen is to allow it to be dominated by governments or big business.
Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 03:20:29 PM by Jeremy Malcolm
Jeremy Malcolm <
Multi-Stakeholder Governance and the IGF
Re: Control Of The Internet
Reply #2 on:
October 25, 2006, 06:04:54 AM »
I too am just a user of the internet. To me it seems that the Internet is certainly not one thing, and I think it would be very difficult to "control" all of it. Pragmatically, the Internet is a collection of things like a rail system is.
With a rail system there are rails, points, bridges, sidings and shunting yards. In some places there are duplicate rails and more to allow for higher densities of traffic. To manage the traffic on the rails there are systems that manage the points and the direction of travel and other things that make the actual rails usable. Then there are the trains, carriages, and other rolling stock which travel certain parts of the system with the permission of the management systems. There are stations, ticket sellers, timetables, and other layers that manage the access to and charge for use of the rail system.
It is a trivial but useful analogy I use when thinking about the "control" or "governance" of the Internet. Rail systems around the world are a good model of what would have happened if the Internet was commenced as a purely commercial enterprise. Different track gauges, stock widths, heights, propulsion systems, couplings etc. We could still go down that path. The internet could still fracture and segment. To me the maintenance of the Interenet as a whole is the most important governance issue around.
The openness and freedom of the internet is not and cannot be guaranteed. China and others have showed us that. I suspect the only reason that the Internet has managed to stay relatively open for so long is that its benefits to those who could change it have outweighed its detriments. The current openness and interoperability relies on agreements and cooperation at all levels. ICANN has seen this truth and is working towards formalising those tacit relationships in the name space.
There is no technical reason why the Internet could not begin fracturing tomorrow. Yes it would be onerous and inconvenient to have more than one root DNS authority, or more than one transport protocol, but it would not be impossible, and probably not even difficult for say a national authority to maintain its own infrastructure standards and manage the rest of the world at some conversion interface. Again, the rails systems of the world are a good example.
Why would it fracture tomorrow? Well probably for the same reasons that we wage wars, or take over companies, or burn down forests. Lets hope the benefits of an open system continue to outweigh the detriments. Treading softly and carefully over governance issues is certainly a good beginning to keeping it so.
Management of the Internet should be international in order to moderate national interests, but it will only be achieved by agreement.
Re: Control Of The Internet
Reply #3 on:
October 30, 2006, 01:47:24 AM »
I figured I would get in on this since I feel that the internet is perhaps the single most important thing in the world today, not only for commerce, but also for the spread of ideas and knowledge.
In my opinion, the free flow of ideas is essential for progress of any kind. Clearly, there are those who argue that some ideas are bad (terrorist websites/irc channels etc.) but the only way to stop a single idea from spreading on the internet is to stop them all. People may be outraged about certain things on the internet, but there are also other people who think the exact opposite about the exact same things. To give in to one interest group, nation, lawsuit, MP, parrent, etc. is to give in to ALL demands for control. Therefore it seems to me that that leaves 2 choices, give in, or accept that there will be people who are outraged at things on the internet and let them be outraged. Using the internet is a choice and so is a parrent's choice to allow their child on the internet. Knowledge is dangerous, it shapes minds, but does that mean we should give it up because there are people who dont want their children, or countries who dont want their citizens, to KNOW?
In an ideal world, the internet would be completely self regulating, based on a serries of protocols that, left to themselves would be able to maintain the connections of trillions of unique hosts (computers) and provide a reasonable method for accessing them. Essentially the internet must be and extra-national entity which is NOT controled by the UN, because the UN is made up of interest groups, just like any country. The internet has to be completely out of the sphere of countries and their governments in order to insure its long term survival. Putting the internet in the hands of a country, or a group of countries, is making the assumption that that, or those countires will exist and be able to insure to openness of the internet for the foreseeable future, and that is not an assumption that should be made. We cannot see what exactly will happen, but is it not better to plan for the worst possible eventuality, and keep one of the most valuable assets to human society functional, free and open, rather than to allow the internet, and access to it remain in the hands of countries and companies with uncertain futures?
IDOA.info - Internet Domain Owners Association
Re: Control Of The Internet
Reply #4 on:
November 02, 2006, 03:53:46 PM »
The Internet and Global Civilization
It would be wonderful if the Internet would remain as free (or low cost when charges are necessary) as possible and remain as free from regulation as possible. That would be the way to make the Internet fulfill its greatest promises - that of being all things to all people - or as close to that as we can attain.
The Internet currently means many things to (and provides or facilitates many services to) many people, including, but not limited to: free communication (email, phone, video conferencing, etc), free research facilities and free access to news and information, free tools to create new ways of doing things, new ways of saying things and reaching a truly global audience for free or extrmeely inexpensively and more.
The Internet provides a truly global medium at so low a cost that it is astounding, and this has and will promote great opportunities for cultures, nations, groups, ideas and individuals to learn about one another, share their ideas and work together, play together, think and plan together, educate one another, and communicate with one another.
All of these benefits of the Internet as we know it today can be expanded if we agree to keep the cost as free or as low cost as possible; AND if we allow the maximum amount of freedom of expression and as little regulation as possible to regulate that freedom.
We have three separate internets today. The Internet, which ICANN manages, which allows everyone everywhere (except where nations practive censorship - and a greater number of governments do this in different ways than one might think) to communicate with everyone everywhere - for the most part. The Second Internet is a separate Internet which uses the Chinese character scripts and has separate root servers and root zone files than the ICANN-Internet, and this second Internet is used by hundreds of millions of Chinese including Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean users in their own written languages. ICANN currently has nothing to do with this Internet, although it will have to make a deal with it when ICANN adds the Unicode character set containing the majority of the written Chinese characters to its root zone files, as many of those character strings will already be in use by the Second Internet.
There is a Third Interent which has its own root servers and root zone files which allows the many countries of the world who use a written Arabaic script to communicate with one another in their own written language(s). Like the Second Internet, this Third Internet does not communicate with the Icann-Internet at all and ICANN will have to make a deal with it, too.
Someone said that the governance of the Internet will end up being governed as everything else on the planet it - by countries and their governments. This is what is happening already. In my opinion, the Internet holds greater promise than that; and if the Internet could somehow be kept from individual national governance it would become a much more effective tool for keeping peace, and for trying to bring the people of the world together to solve and deal with the coming environmental collapse that will probably make refugees out of 95% of the population of the world in as little as 30 - 50 years (because of global warming and its effects).
Perhaps the individual users of the Internet - the individual domain owners, and the individuals who have email accounts and the individuals who pay for (or have) an Internet connection can band together and demand that the gTLD's (like .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz ...) be free from national governmental regulation. For, after all, the national governments of the world already have official ccTLD's (like .us, .cn, .fr, .de, ...) that they can regulate as they see fit. But we, the individual users of the Internet are going to have to demand it and insist on it. (See my group, IDOA.info - We are struggling to prevent substantial, perpetual, annual price increases for domain ownership costs - and we have no budget to sue ICANN and the Registries - and, sadly, lawsuits and laws are the only things that prevent big business from taking advantage of smaller business and the individual).
It would be great to have some gTLD's free from regulation, but even still, what does that mean? For example, there are some who believe someone or group should be able to purchase a domain anonymously (and many Registrars offer "private registration", where the detalis of ownership and contact information are hidden from view and are not available in a WHOIS search, which is suppossed to give that information for every domain according to the ICANN bylaws.). I, personally, don't care what people write on their websites ( I truly believe in absolute freedom of speech and freedom of opinion and expression), but I do think we should be able to do a quick and easy search (WHOIS) and find out the real owner and real contact information for any domain. I am against "Private Registration", because people and groups lie and and defame and mislead, and it's important that we know who is responsible for what we see, read or hear. There are plenty of multi-user community sites where one can express an opinion anonymously if one wants to (almost always a bad idea, in my opinion, because if you don't attach your name to your opinion, then you are not acting in an adult manner - unless you are living in a repressive regime and face death or prison for freedom of expression...). This "private registration" is just one of many areas in which ICANN has given the Registries and the Registrars what they want - because those groups finance ICANN. There has been a long and well documented history of ICANN supporting those two groups over the individual domain owner and user, and the perpetual, monopolistic annual price increases they are trying to force on all of us to maintain domain ownership is the worst, and we need everyone's help to stop that from happening. (see IDAO.info)
Additionally, we need a much lower cost method of resolving domain ownership and registrar disputes. A mechanism which costs less than $50 (instead of $750 or $1500 as it currently does) for the domain owner to use should be put in place which protects the domain owners as well as intellectual property rights.
Lastly, I would like to leave everyone with the following thought:
The Internet is quickly becoming a vast user of electrical power and thus is now a major factor in the global warming catastrophe we face here on the planet. Many call me an alarmist, however I am simply very smart and very honest; and I have been warning the US government (and all who will listen) for over a decade that global warming will melt the ice at and near the poles, which will redistribute the surface weight of the earth and cause the earth to shift on and in its axis. This means global catastrophe for 95% of the world's population, if not all. It means an end to nations as we know them. It means an end to human civilization probably. It certainly means an end (extinction) for 95% of the beautiful species that inhabit and live on this beautiful planet. I expect sea levels to rise by 30 meters within 30-50 years, and by 70 meters by the year 2075. I am quite serious, and all the calculations being thrown about by scientists and governments today are vastly understating the problem.
If we immedialty:
Stop population growth, and commence population reduction. People born today and hereafter will have horrible lives in 30-50 years and most will become refugees and die miserably. Most parts of the planet from the Tropic of Cancer through the Equator to the Tropic of Capricorn will become too hot and will be uninhabitable. All coastal areas less than 30-70 meters above sea level will be under water (the majority of the world's population lives in these areas). We need to reduce the population to a size the planet can handle maintaining a high quality of life for us all - probably about 100 Million. We won't have to do this voluntarily, as the coming environmental collapse will do it for us.
Start severe energy conservation measures. We could reduce our energy consumption by 50% overnight if people knew that it was necessary to save the human race and the planet form extinction and collapse. And it is necessary. It is our only hope. Not one more power plant or facility which deals with fossil fuels should be built on the planet. Electrical advertising at night must be eliminated. Gas and Oil must be rationed and heavily taxed. Forests must be preserved and indeed expanded. Billions of trees must be planted. There must be no more slash and burn anywhere on the planet. Economic growth as we know it must cease immediately, and energy must be conserved. There will be a hundred million new jobs created worldwide in energy conservation, renewable energy (that does not mean LNG or grain or feed based fuels) development and distribution, pollution abatement and clean-up; so there will be a different kind of growth.
Stop buring fossil fuels and develop and use other renewal (non-polluting or less-polluting) energy sources. Stop buring fossil fuels even if there is no renewable alternative. Stop driving and building cars and do more walking and riding bicycles. Stop flying in jet aircraft and travel locally, etc...
I realize that all of this sounds absurd, but it is the only way to save ourselves, other species adn the planet. I realize that you will think that governments and scientists who don't believe the threat is as grave or as imminent know better than I do; however if you think these things, then you are wrong, for I am completely honest and very smart. Those other scientists don't understand that all of the environmental problems we are facing are both reflexive and increase exponentially with each feedback loop (and effects increase exponentially, not proportionately - I am a mathamatician, and I understnd the difference - which is all the difference in the world, believe me), and synergistic - that is the sum of the problems is far greater than the sums of each individual problem added together, as they all increase feedback and reaction and effects in the others.
We have an obligation to try to save as much of human life and civilization as possible. I also believe that we have an obligation to save as many of other species from extinction as possible. The alternative of continuing our global population and economic growth, using more energy, etc... leads to a global collapse of civilization and of the environment - and soon, within 30 - 50 years. It will be all over within 70 years if we don't dramatically change our ways now.
I hope that a free Internet with global acccess can bring this cricial mesage to people everywhere so that they change their governments, start conserving, stop breeding, and act now for the future.
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