“Internet Freedom” and Post-Snowden Global Internet Governance

“Internet Freedom” and Post-Snowden Global Internet Governance

by Michael Gurstein

And so we have the upcoming 8th session of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Bali with many of the main [“Internet Freedom”] protagonists having been more or less completely discredited…

So, what will be discussed at the IGF apart from the usual empty rhetoric about capacity building for LDC’s and legitimate campaigns against online skullduggery of the spam, kiddieporn, phishing variety?

Perhaps I could make a modest suggestion for the discussion. Perhaps we could discuss “Internet Freedom” but Internet Freedom in a post-Snowden world and without the hypocrisy and sanctimony of the previous discussions.

Perhaps we could discuss Internet Freedom as Freedom from undue and unaccountable surveillance; Internet Freedom as true Freedom of Expression where the forces of repression whether in Langley or in Moscow or Shanghai are made transparent and accountable; where Internet Freedom is anchored in the rule of law–not the, shall we say, rather “flexible” law of the world’s single superpower, but a rule of law to which all are expected to adhere and where mechanisms are in place to ensure that, to the degree possible, all are responsive and accountable; where Internet Freedom is not just for some but where it’s responsibilities and most importantly its protections are available for all of us — “foreigners” or no– and where all have some degree of input into how those laws are constructed and administered; where Internet Freedom does not mean that actions on and through the Internet will be subverted and directed simply to further enrich the already obscenely enriched, but rather to ensure that the benefits including financial benefits accruing from the Internet serve to reduce global inequalities.

I look for those who a year ago, were so eager to rally forces in support of Internet Freedom, to rally again to this somewhat battered standard; but now, one that is rather less naive and rather more reflective of the underlying reality of this technology enabled world in which we live. — Michael Gurstein [full article:  “Internet Freedom” and Post-Snowden Global Internet Governance]

[Is freedom just another word for the law of the jungle, the war of all against all, and might makes right? Instead of naive or disingenuous “freedom” rhetoric, we need the transparent, even-handed, rule of law starting with a Universal Internet Bill of Rights or “Internet Magna Carta.” The primary danger is always that lawmaking and enforcement can be hijacked by special interests. –PR]

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