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Ominous Developments on the “Internet Governance” Front

(David Post)

The future of Internet governance is starting to look more and more worrisome, and that should concern anyone interested in the Net as a platform for free and open global communication.  This past week brought us a Declaration by the major Internet standards-setting organizations — ICANN, the Internet Society, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, among others – expressing “strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance,” and calling for “an ongoing effort to address Internet Governance challenges . . .  towards the evolution of global multistakeholder Internet cooperation” and for ”accelerating the globalization of  ICANN  and [Internet numbering]  functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.”

There’s a fair bit of complicated background and subtext here amidst the gobbledygook of international bureaucratese.  Milton Mueller, over on the Internet Governance Forum,  describes this as “the core Internet institutions abandoning the US government” – which may be something of an exaggeration, but captures some features of what is happening.

But this is more than just blowback from the Snowden revelations and push-back against the US’s prominent position in many of the major Internet governance institutions.  As it happens, I’m all for accelerating the “globalization” of Internet governance, and have said as much for decades; I think that policy-making for the Net — Internet-wide rulemaking binding on all Internet users (as opposed to, say, rule-making processes applicable only to US users, or French users, or Brazilian users, etc.)  – can only be accomplished legitimately by institutions that collectively have some claim to represent the people of the world, all of whom will be affected by Internet-wide rules.  We are, after all, all created equal, and each of us has [...]

Via Volokh Conspiracy

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