Next Friday, December 21st, is a big day for the internet. It is the culminating day of the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, the only conference of its kind in 24 years. On the agenda is a of review the international telecommunication regulations. Since the previous meeting in 1988, much has changed on the telecommunications front, so this meeting could have major implications for the role that governments play in regulating the internet. Weighing in on the scope and meaning of this threat is Rod Beckstrom, author, entrepreneur, former CEO and President of ICANN, and former Director of the National Cyber Security Center. Here’s his interview on the DorobekINSIDER:
How the Internet Has Changed the World
The internet that we take for granted is a “majestic decentralized network” that has grown into the open knowledge center it is today through community processes and organizations like ICANN and the internet engineering task force. It is the product of collaboration. The internet has dramatically transformed the role of the citizen by giving a voice to anyone with internet access. The open nature of the internet has brought governments across the world to an unprecedented level of transparency, which “means all governments have to become more responsive to their citizens.”
Ultimately, this transparency has led to “better governments, better decisions, less abuse, less corruption over time. But that is a threat to existing power structures.”
What This Meeting Could Change
There are two big threats that Beckstrom identified. First, there are countries that are pushing hard for internet, cyber security and deep packet inspection (filtering) regulations to be added to the international regulations. Second, the internet could be broken down into different national networks so that individual governments could become gate-keepers for what information their citizens can and cannot access. There are many implications to these threats: “higher costs, less reliability, more political movements, (and) bifurcation of the internet.”
“The beauty of the internet today is that it’s really about one world, one internet, with everyone connected.”
Can you imagine what the world would look like if this was no longer true? By next Friday, you may not have to imagine it – it may be our reality.
It would be a sad thing in my opinion to put restrictions. A lot of groups have used the internet to garner support for revolution and I could see countries shutting down groups which would restrict freedoms. On the other hand, maybe it will create an alternative to the internet to support freedoms. They always take away freedoms claiming it is for our own good and they are protecting us.