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Paul Merrell

The De-Americanization of Internet Freedom - Lawfare - 0 views

  • Why did the internet freedom agenda fail? Goldsmith’s essay tees up, but does not fully explore, a range of explanatory hypotheses. The most straightforward have to do with unrealistic expectations and unintended consequences. The idea that a minimally regulated internet would usher in an era of global peace, prosperity, and mutual understanding, Goldsmith tells us, was always a fantasy. As a project of democracy and human rights promotion, the internet freedom agenda was premised on a wildly overoptimistic view about the capacity of information flows, on their own, to empower oppressed groups and effect social change. Embracing this market-utopian view led the United States to underinvest in cybersecurity, social media oversight, and any number of other regulatory tools. In suggesting this interpretation of where U.S. policymakers and their civil society partners went wrong, Goldsmith’s essay complements recent critiques of the neoliberal strains in the broader human rights and transparency movements. Perhaps, however, the internet freedom agenda has faltered not because it was so naïve and unrealistic, but because it was so effective at achieving its realist goals. The seeds of this alternative account can be found in Goldsmith’s concession that the commercial non-regulation principle helped companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon grab “huge market share globally.” The internet became an increasingly valuable cash cow for U.S. firms and an increasingly potent instrument of U.S. soft power over the past two decades; foreign governments, in due course, felt compelled to fight back. If the internet freedom agenda is understood as fundamentally a national economic project, rather than an international political or moral crusade, then we might say that its remarkable early success created the conditions for its eventual failure. Goldsmith’s essay also points to a third set of possible explanations for the collapse of the internet freedom agenda, involving its internal contradictions. Magaziner’s notion of a completely deregulated marketplace, if taken seriously, is incoherent. As Goldsmith and Tim Wu have discussed elsewhere, it takes quite a bit of regulation for any market, including markets related to the internet, to exist and to work. And indeed, even as Magaziner proposed “complete deregulation” of the internet, he simultaneously called for new legal protections against computer fraud and copyright infringement, which were soon followed by extensive U.S. efforts to penetrate foreign networks and to militarize cyberspace. Such internal dissonance was bound to invite charges of opportunism, and to render the American agenda unstable.
Paul Merrell

Join The Internet Vote - 0 views

  • Congress is about to introduce a bill to fast track a secret deal that could lead to global censorship. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We think Internet users everywhere should have a say in decisions that affect the Internet — but if “Fast Track” legislation passes, there is no chance that the public will see the text before the deal is approved. Join the Internet Vote on April 23rd and let’s make it clear to DC how we’re voting: against Fast Track and against Internet censorship. (Learn More)
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    Sign up (email address) for updates on a monumental lobbying effort coming up in the next few days when Congress comes back into session and the legislation to "Fast Track" the TPP *and all future trade agrerements* is introduced. From leaked draft portions, we know that the TPP brings us internet censorship and a mass of copyright law changes that have the giant intellectual property corproate folk drooling at the mouth, because they helped write it while the public was excluded. This is your chance to help end secret trade agreements that the public doesn't even get to see until they have already been made into law.
Paul Merrell

The US is Losing Control of the Internet…Oh, Really? | Global Research - 2 views

  • All of the major internet organisations have pledged, at a summit in Uruguay, to free themselves of the influence of the US government. The directors of ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society and all five of the regional Internet address registries have vowed to break their associations with the US government. In a statement, the group called for “accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing”. That’s a distinct change from the current situation, where the US department of commerce has oversight of ICANN. In another part of the statement, the group “expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance”. Meanwhile, it was announced that the next Internet Governance Summit would be held in Brazil, whose president has been extremely critical of the US over web surveillance. In a statement announcing the location of the summit, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said: “The United States and its allies must urgently end their spying activities once and for all.”
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