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Thread: Keep the Internet free

  1. #1
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Default Keep the Internet free

    Keep the Internet free
    By Carl Bildt International Herald Tribune
    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2005


    STOCKHOLM Beyond the headlines, a critically important battle for control of the Internet is being played out.

    On the one side is the United States, which wants to retain supervision of the Internet and has managed to get the reluctant support of most of the global Internet community, which sees America as the least bad of the possible ultimate guardians of the system.

    On the other side is a collection of states keen on getting as much as control as possible in order to curtail the Internet's power to undermine their regimes. With the theocracy of Iran as the standard-bearer, this group brings together Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba and Venezuela. North Korea is probably keen to join in as well.

    The European Union seems to be in the middle, wavering back and forth - and in its wavering it has recently come down with a position that has brought it enthusiastic applause from Tehran, Beijing and Havana.

    The battle is part of the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society, scheduled to be held in Tunis in November. Much verbiage will come out of these talks, but at the end of the day they're all about the struggle for control.

    The Internet is as strange as it is important. Its evolution from its origins in American research labs has been carried forward by a global community of dedicated individuals. Gradually, its governance has evolved as a network of institutions that brings experts, stakeholders and public interests together in a system that is controlled by no one but open to everyone. It's an innovative, although not necessarily perfect, new approach to global governance of vital assets.

    And it has worked. The Internet is fast becoming as important to our globalized economies and societies as water is to life. The fact that innovation, transparency and reliability have gone hand in hand in this revolution over the past decade shows at the very least that the governance structure of the Internet isn't deeply flawed.

    It would be profoundly dangerous to now set up an international mechanism, controlled by governments, to take over the running of the Internet. Not only would this play into the hands of regimes bent on limiting the freedom that the Internet can bring, it also risks stifling innovation and ultimately endangering the security of the system.

    Even trying to set up such a mechanism could cause conflicts leading to today's uniform global system being Balkanized into different, more or less closed systems.

    In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there is an immediate audience for complaints about heavy-handed U.S. efforts to retain control over everything. But it would be dangerous to let such complaints take us down the path toward handing important powers to closed regimes.

    It is here that the European Commission now seems to have gone much too far. Its proposal to set up a mechanism that could well turn into a means for limiting access to the Internet has met with fierce fury from Internet professionals worldwide and undiluted enthusiasm from autocratic states.

    This is not where Europe should be on these issues. The Internet is vital to our future, and we Europeans should be as keen as anyone to preserve the essence of a system that has worked amazingly well. If that entails leaving some ultimate safeguard powers in the hands of the United States, that's certainly better than having theocrats or autocrats around the world getting their hands on the levers of control.

    There is time for Europe to reconsider its proposal. I refuse to believe that Josť Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, or Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, which currently holds the EU presidency, know what has been done in their name. But if the issue isn't high on their agenda, I can assure them that it is likely to be very high on Washington's agenda if things go wrong.

    It's time for Blair and Barroso to take charge. Otherwise they might endanger one of the most powerful instruments of freedom and prosperity in our time.

    (Carl Bildt is a former prime minister of Sweden.)
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    See, on one hand you have the autocratic empires who want to restrict content to their populations...

    And theres the US, who's more fringe groups want the same thing, just on a different level: smut, violence, etc.

    KEEP THE INFORMATION FREE FLOWING. Nobody should have absolute control over the content.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    I agree 100%.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Hit By Ban Bus! WickedHo's Avatar
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    The Internet is the last vestige of unrestraint, the free exchange of ideas, and it should remain that way. NO ONE should be responsible for regulating its content.

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    SVZ
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    meh it's already gone...just wait for the new privacy laws to roll in. porns already "banned" at least it's very difficult to have a legitimate adult site

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