Calls from EU Will Fall On Deaf Ears

The European Commission published a press release today expressing its desire to begin negotiating for more international representation on the functions that governs the Internet. I think the intent of the release is something worth addressing: It calls for more diverse representation on the Internet governing bodies, which currently it is very US-centric. However, while the intent is good, I don’t see this going anywhere.

Firstly, it sounds like they perceive the role of these bodies (ICANN and IANA specifically) as central controllers of the Internet whose job it is to protect citizens. I don’t know if anyone wants that sort of control. In fact, much of the public momentum is the exact opposite. People generally want to minimize the possibility that any government could control the Internet.

Secondly, what people ultimately want is to be able to take advantage of all of the benefits of the Internet free from intrusion. Efforts like the Chinese Golden Shield Project, recent installation of filters in the UK and moves by dictators around the world to block certain traffic have universally been panned, accusing these efforts as mechanisms for censoring citizen’s freedom of speech.

In addition, while governments have some control over the Internet, such as managing the top-level domains, the ability to install the aforementioned filters, as well as installing surveillance mechanisms and enacting legislation, they really aren’t capable of “controlling” it.

Finally, neither the general public nor businesses have any interest in globalizing these governing bodies. The public just doesn’t care. As I mentioned, they simply want inexpensive connectivity free from censorship. Businesses favor predictability and consistency and the current structure suits them fine. The US is known for its libertarian attitudes towards regulations and since ICANN and IANA are largely US controlled that works in there favor.

I do feel like the European Union has its heart in the right place. Decentralizing control should be best for everyone, but calls for adding more governments to the Internet’s governing bodies is a non-starter.


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