Net rule by divine right is not the American way

Net rule by divine right is not the American way

Summary: The third world war will happen in cyberspace, unless America comes to its senses

TOPICS: IT Employment

You can always rely on America to do the right thing, said Churchill, after it has exhausted all other options. It's currently exploring the idea that it and it alone should control the Internet — to the open disapproval of the EU, Japan and other major power blocs.

The brave of heart can find much support for the US position in the halls of the right-wing bloggers. There, the argument runs that the US invented the Internet so has moral rights to it, that no other countries can be relied on not to do something that might work against US interests, and that international bodies are ipso facto incompetent.

None of these arguments hold water for a nanosecond. Invention — insofar as the Internet isn't the result of international collaboration on a vast scale — does not confer untrammelled rights. Other countries have as much right to be wary of US interests as the US has of theirs: America is not magically more moral or just than any other nation, nor is it divinely elected. And international bodies make mistakes, but they can also be very effective: those who disagree are invited to inspect the history of the International Telecommunications Union.

The facts are not to the American administration's taste, but they are facts nonetheless. It is not possible to impose your will on every nation in the world by simple fiat. You either invade by force of arms or you reach an agreement. We suggest that the history of the former approach recommends the latter.

With the Internet, it will be comparatively easy for other nations to establish a co-operative Net management scheme and just to start using it. The US would then be free to join in or not, depending on whether or not it wanted to isolate its online economy from that of the rest of the world. Nobody wants to see the Net fractured — but most of the world does not want to be beholden to an America bent on global domination.

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect is that by its stubborn attempt to retain absolute power, the US will lose a disproportionate amount of influence in whatever forum evolves as a result. The Internet needs American traditions of independence, justice, fairness and equality, but as in the real world they cannot be imposed. In time, the US will have to do the right thing: the sooner it comes to this conclusion, the better it will be for everyone.

Topic: IT Employment

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  • If the USA, UN, EU or any one nation or body tried to take control of the Internet then the same spirit that created the Free Software/Open Source movement that created the technology that runs much of the WWW would just simply rise up and create an alternative system that can be controlled by nobody.

    Maybe this would be the best thing in the long run?
  • I can see one advantage of letting the net be run by an international agency - the threat of Spam.
    All have said that the spam threat needs to be addressed globally. Any one nation can not address spam. Can spam has not been fully effective as you cannot, under any sane law, sue a chinese company hosted on a australian server.
    But international agencies do have this remit.
    Whether they have the effectiveness is another issue. But at the moment the net has a powerful master that has no control over his children!
    The US has addressed many of its fears through international treaties before, let the internet become the same.
  • The Internet itself should be no more then a global open road that doesn't interfere with what travels on it. For that we have traffic control centers, police, maintenance crews, road signs, laws and what not. And those can be localized. And differ from country to country yet more or less offer the same services and conditions depanding on what a specific country is capable of, and willing, to deliver.

    It would be the day if the world over the road you travel on determines under which (foreign) country laws you fall and your own national police would have to enforce that. And it would be the day if the road itselfs decides to boot you off the road because it doesn't like the colour of your car. And it certainly would be the day if, say, the UK could force every other country in the world to have all cars drive on the left side.

    No, the Internet should be as globally divided (yet common at the same time) as currently roads are. Sure, countries can mutually agree to follow the same rules and they ofcourse should see the benefits of that. But it shouldn't be the case that one country decides for all or even could decide for all.