Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Greening of the Internet

There is an interesting article in The Economist triggered by the recent ITU negotiations on Internet governance. Probably most readers of this blog recognize that most of the important Internet countries will not sign the convention that grew out of the meeting.

I am not surprised that there was a chasm between the democratic, free market countries and those with coercive governments and kleptocracies on Internet governance.

I was taken by this comment from the article:
Today every corner of the digital universe has its own interest group: consumer groups defend online privacy; hackers reject far-reaching software patents; researchers push for open access to scientific journals online; defenders of transparency call on governments to open their data vaults—or take the opening into their own hands........ 
The internet is nothing if not an exercise in interconnection. Its politics thus seems to call out for a similar convergence (to that of the green movement), and connections between the disparate interest groups that make up the net movement are indeed getting stronger. Beyond specific links, they also share what Manuel Castells, a Spanish sociologist, calls the “culture of the internet”, a contemporary equivalent of the 1960s counter-culture (in which much of the environmental movement grew up). Its members believe in technological progress, the free flow of information, virtual communities and entrepreneurialism. They meet at “unconferences” (where delegates make up their own agenda) and “hackerspaces” (originally opportunities to tinker with electronics); their online forum of choice will typically be something such as a wiki that all can contribute to and help to shape.
Count me in among those who "believe in technological progress, the free flow of information, virtual communities and entrepreneurialism."

On the other hand I also recognize that national borders are little protection against Internet crime, and that a lot of spam flows across those borders. If we can have a Geneva convention declaring some forms of warfare to be illegal under international law, then we might have room for a convention making some forms of cyberwarfare illegal.

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