Thursday, March 20, 2014

Who controls the Internet, and who is going to

I already posted this and my following comments on Facebook, but it got long enough that I thought it warranted a post here, and I know not everybody follows me there. You can also read the NTIA announcement here.

So, the US may be giving up control of the DNS. Big news if you use the Internet (which you presumably do).

This guy makes some well-reasoned points, but I'm still not sure all the concerns about this make sense. The argument that France hates free speech and has already made strides against it kind of undercuts the whole "ICANN works fine the way it is now" notion.

Similarly, the point that countries would have "near-total control over all Internet activities within their borders" seems moot since they kind of already do. Some like the US don't really police Internet access, but countries like China actively block access to whatever websites they don't like. ICANN has no control over this.

And even beyond the imposition of governments, your local ISPs still have a measure of control because they're the ones providing the service. If you kept up at all on those Net Neutrality issues, you know why we worry about giving any private corporations say over how you access the Internet.

So, my main worry is who specifically is going to be a part of this new agency. Will they be well-versed in the technology they oversee? (Way too many science and technology oversight committees are peopled with old farts who can't open their own email) Plus, how do you ensure their neutrality and commitment to "openness" will be consistent with what we have currently?

At any rate, I don't think patriotism is the issue here. It's simply a matter of wanting the DNS to be controlled by people who love and respect the power of the Internet and have the wisdom to understand what's truly best for it, and for all of us.

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