Google Claims the Very Freedom of the Web is at Stake
It's been a rather challenging year for the Internet. Some in the west would quite like to be able to shut down chunks of it during periods of civil unrest, whilst Iran and Russia have both implemented fundamental changes to how their citizens can access the web in recent months.
These shifts are culminating in a meeting of the International Telecommunication Union this week to discuss the future of the Internet. On one side of the table are countries such as Russia, that claim that the web is negating their ability to uphold national laws, and is too heavily controlled by America.
It's an argument that has prompted a concerted response from Google. Vint Cerf wrote on the Google blog over the weekend urging those at the event to keep the web as open as possible.
The fear is that the ITU will instigate changes that will damage the freedom of speech that so dominates the web, allowing governments to repress and filter what citizens can say and do online.
Suggestions that the ITU don't get the Internet are far from new. They initially hoped to control the domain name system back in 1996 but due to the murky manner of their operation they were rebuffed in favor of ICANN, who have controlled things since then.
And ICANN are now firmly in the sites of the ITU, who are hoping to wrest back control over domain names. As an international agency, it’s a counterpoint to ICANN, which derives its authority from the US government and is sometimes seen as representing American interests too heavily. As an intergovernmental body, it raises the hackles of the often strongly libertarian tech industry, which worries about top-down regulation by politicians.
If you'd like to add your voice to the movement to keep the web as open as possible and free from excessive regulation, you can do so via this Google page.