Billions of people use the Internet for different purposes. Some use it communicate with friends and family overseas, do business, keep updated with the latest news or just for plain entertainment. What if I were to tell you that heads of governments are currently convening to change the state of the Internet? Would you even care about it or just keep mum and complain when it’s already too late to do something about it?
The International Telecommunication Union is convening a conference from December 3-14, 2012 in Dubai where a closed-door meeting of the world’s governments is taking place. The agenda? The regulation of the Internet.
If you think that “regulation” would just mean censoring porn sites and keeping a sharp eye on cyber bullying, you are in for a surprise. News sites could be blocked to suppress freedom of the media, people could get thrown in jail for publicly voicing out their thoughts and opinions, anonymity in the web will no longer exist and even communicating with people abroad could get expensive as some governments are proposing that Internet service providers pay new tolls to reach people across borders. So if you think this closed-door meeting still doesn’t concern you, then just stop reading the article and go back to your naive little world but don’t you dare complain once you can no longer access the site you love so much.
Vinton Cerf, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist and considered as one of the “Fathers of the Internet” along with computer scientist Bob Kahn, made a compelling point on the importance of the Internet on his Google blog post,
“Starting in 1973, when my colleagues and I proposed the technology behind the Internet, we advocated for an open standard to connect computer networks together. This wasn’t merely philosophical; it was also practical.
“Our protocols were designed to make the networks of the Internet non-proprietary and interoperable. They avoided “lock-in,” and allowed for contributions from many sources. This openness is why the Internet creates so much value today. Because it is borderless and belongs to everyone, it has brought unprecedented freedoms to billions of people worldwide: the freedom to create and innovate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard.”
Are government heads really thinking straight? If they change the Internet, block more sites, charge more for services, don’t they think that people would just retaliate? Especially hackers like Anonymous who constantly fight corrupt and unjust governments? Haven’t they learned their lessons from numerous DDoS attacks on government sites in different parts of the world? The harder they try to keep information from people, the more people will dig deep until they unearth everything they need to know. So would it really be wise to change how the Internet operates? Then spend millions just so they can flush out bugs or fortify their cyber walls? The government should be smart about it. Hiding things would just lead to chaos.
If you think that you cannot do anything to stop the governments from screwing with the Internet, you are wrong. Millions of people have already pledge their support to keep the Internet FREE and OPEN. Pledge sites like protectinternetfreedom.net, freeandopenweb.com, and Google Take Action are all helping people have their voices heard and fight for the Internet. It is not too late. Do your part now while you still can.
SiliconANGLE’s Mike Wheatley has been covering the developments of this project, and the ITU and UN’s involvement; but it’s hard to say where it will go or what it will actually mean in the end.