The continued battle over who should police, or better, govern the Internet continues (BBC). It’s nothing new, really – I’ve been active in Internet Governance discussions since about 2003 when the first World Summit on Information Society was held – I was even a nominee to go. Since then I’ve participated in active discussions regarding Network Neutrality, spam, spam, spam and spam (amongst other things, as spam often comes). It is interesting, particularly in the context of the BBC article, that the lines have become so clear that even the media can see it. It was apparent in 2003 at the WSIS because the United States – the de facto originator and leading service provider on the Internet (everyone say ‘hi’ to the NSA) – did not send any government officials of note but the corporations did show up.
‘Governing’ or ‘policing’ the Internet is not a simple thing but most of the issues are quite simple. If, for example, as much attention was paid to spammers as there is on copyright law agreements, you likely wouldn’t need to subscribe to an anti-spam service. A standardized approach to dealing with spam across the globe should probably be a priority but instead it has become an industry, an industry that I imagine is quite lucrative and unwilling to actually solve the problem rather than treat the symptoms for a price.
Other problems, such as dealing with pornographic websites, are also easily solved by simply forcing/encouraging (stick/carrot) such websites to use ‘.xxx‘ instead of ‘.com‘ – but the discussion quickly devolved into what pornography is and is not, enough so that there really was no discussion and probably a lot of pornographic sites being visited by bureaucrats with an excuse to investigate. “Is this porn? Lets discuss it…”
Now in an age where cyberwarfare does exist, where large groups like Anonymous hide in the cracks – some say for better, others for worse – there are more and more issues coming to the fore. Consider what nationality the cloud is as an example – privacy laws in countries are largely incompatible even while copyright laws have become, thanks to corporations really interested in copyright, ubiquitous.
People do need to get involved if they want to have some say in the matter – I’ve been at it for 10 years.
If you’re using the Internet, you might want to take a global view at the issues. Some are complicated, some are not.
A good place to start would be the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
Why should you bother?
Because even as the continuously stymied ‘discussion’ of internet governance and policing continues, Google has already begun launching internet beaming balloons. There’s nothing wrong with that but it demonstrates the difference in velocity between governance issues and internet corporations.
The world can’t figure out how to cooperate, but now the Internet has balloons.