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GUEST BLOG: The War for Control of the Internet

17 April 2012

Vanity Fair has a long and detailed article by Michael Joseph Gross on the future of the Internet and the numerous competing parties that are battling for control of its future.  It highlights as a starting point the December meeting of diplomats in Dubai who plan to revise a UN treaty on Internet governance, but also provides a snapshot of the major interests and concerns surrounding the Internet at the present moment.  Gross's article delves into issues around security, privacy, intellectual property, national sovereignty, hacking, and government regulation, and the various attempts to restrict or expand each of them.

The whole article is really worth your time, but the short version is that Gross sees two different visions for the future of the Internet, which he terms the forces of Order and Disorder.  Neither side's vision is really desirable, nor should either be fully realised.  By contrast, Gross advocates a sort of middle way that he calls Organized Chaos, which is championed by some of the Internet's most influential researchers.  These supporters recognise that there needs to be some order placed on the Internet's anarchic nature, but it should fundamentally remain very free and open.

A key line in the article for me was: After this winter’s debates on piracy [over the US SOPA and PIPA bills], it will be difficult for legislators to handle Internet policy the way they’ve handled so many other issues: by gentlemen’s agreements among interested parties. The intensity of protest will make that impossible.  In other words, whatever happens with the future control of the Internet, it's likely to be bitter and hard-fought by all sides.
 

A new post by guest blogger, Steven Nelson, a teacher, trainer, translator, interpreter, and writer.  Steven is a graduate of Mary Washington College (BA in International Studies) and Central European University (MA in Nationalism Studies) and lives with his family in Budapest, Hungary. He has an keen interest in how the Internet is affecting our world and we hope he will be a regular contributor to our site.

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