Tech Companies Discuss Internet Governance Threats

BY Heather Greenfield
June 11, 2012
Napa, Ca. — Tech companies and start ups heard more about a push by some countries to gain more international control over the Internet. CCIA President & CEO Ed Black joined fellow panelists Robert Pepper of Cisco and Sally Shipman Wentworth of the Internet Society to discuss international Internet governance at the Tech Policy Summit Thursday.
The discussion was a chance to warn those not following the issue closely about how countries that value Internet freedom and the economic and social benefits of the Internet could actually loose out to countries hoping to get more government control through a UN agency set up in the 19th century to govern telegraph communications.
Countries including Iran, China and Russia have been lobbying the other UN voting countries for a move to bring more control of the Internet under the International Telecommunications Union. Their arguments range from making the Internet more secure to helping curb everything from blasphemy to spam.
The concern is that after the Arab Spring their arguments could flourish in the political climate after governments woke up to the tools the Internet provides for political activism.
Also, as Black pointed out during the panel discussion, restricting the Internet is all too tempting for governments who value freedom in order to help police for everything from copyright infringement to the latest social ill.
Black warned the Internet could face a death by a thousand cuts from the many good intentions of governments.
Pepper said there is much information about the Internet and how to grow access to it. He said allowing more regulation of the Internet at the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications would be a set back for the real goals most countries have. He told companies gathered they need to tell those with good intentions that “they won’t get what they want through regulation.”
CCIA’s Geneva office is attending the various Internet governance meetings, communicating our concerns to member states and letting CCIA members know about opportunities to offer comments and technical assistance on the issue of expanding international regulation of the Internet.

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