Unknown to many users and ignored by others (including me), there has been a battle for control over the Internet raging behind the scenes for some time.
The Internet to this point has been pretty much an anything-goes sort of affair. While this wild-west scenario has been a bit of a double-edged sword, it has been an amazing period to be alive. For me, the Internet has provided a good living for over a decade now, to the point that the prospect of doing anything else not strongly connected to the web seems incredibly foreign.
A few days ago, a a closed-door meeting of various governments took place and one of the items on the agenda related to the regulation of the Internet.
The “Father of the Internet”, Vint Cerf, said some of the proposals could see censorship of freedom of speech.
ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies. It appears the body wants to take an increasing amount of control over the Internet; a prospect that has struck fear into many.
Mr. Cerf, one of the pioneers of the Internet who proposed the technology to run it (the TCP/IP networking protocols which are still the workhorses of the Internet today), originally wanted it to be a free and open network – and his stance has not changed since 1973.
Now Google’s VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Vint is calling on people to sign a petition at google.com/takeaction. The petition statement simply says:
“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”
Paul Twomey, described as a founding figure in internet governance is also very concerned by developments relating to the ITU. He states diplomatic and political contention over the next couple of years could redefine the nature of the Internet – and the meeting referred to above was the first step in this process.
“We cannot afford it to take off in the wrong direction,” he says.
I’ve glossed over a lot of the articles ringing the warning bells about the ITU’s grab for power; but perhaps it’s time for all of us to take more interest in developments. After all, it’s not only the freedom of information and communication the Internet provides that may be stake, for many of us; our livelihoods could also be at risk.