I am surprised at those who continue to say that (i) the internet is working fine, (ii) that therefore it needs no governance and (iii) that the phrase “internet governance” should not exist.
Taking the arguments one at a time:
(I) The internet is working fine
Two words are at issue: “is” and “fine”.
The operative word is “is”. The purpose of these meetings is to prepare for the future. There is indeed no need to talk about the present.
The word that may need qualification is “fine.” It depends on what aspect of the internet one is talking about and who it affects. For example, China believes that it is absurd when a university in the USA has more IP addresses than the whole of China itself.
Many governments feel uneasy that the internet can be cut off by a unilateral decision of the government of one country.
(II) therefore it needs no governance
Governance is not “government”. One is talking about the process of governing. So there is governance on the internet. At the most technical, the protocols that enable communication through websites are a part of governance. The value of freedom of expression and how that might be protected and promoted on the internet is a form of governance.
(III) the phrase “internet governance” should not exist.
I was struck at the level of ignorance of a rather high-profile contributor whose identity will, for obvious reasons, not be revealed.
The one issue that caught the attention of governments the world over was the cutting off of Iraq from cyberspace. And Iraq was not cut off from cyberspace for a few hours as this person thought but for a few years.
The managers of the .IQ country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) were not Baathists or cronies of Saddam Hussein. Rather, they were Texans.
Just before the war in Iraq started, they were arrested and charged with the sale of unauthorised computer parts to Libya and Syria. Google “Bayan Elashi” to get the details.
Iraq returned to cyberspace in the interim period when the WGIG Report was sent to translation and before the translated version emerged. The reason given: there was no government to hand the .IQ domain name back to.
This handing back certainly helped defused the tension with respect to governments. And so at the WSIS meeting in Tunis, when the US agreed that ccTLDs would be in the hands of the respective governments, the main sticking point was resolved.
This issue of US dominance shares common features with two other technologies where the USA is dominant. In GPS technology, the European answer is to build a parallel system called Galileo. Check out the FAQ for a blunt and frank answer for the reason of Galileo. Second, the Euro fighter jet that the USA is building with the NATO partners. The USA agreed to share the source code after Britain threatened to pull out.
I plan to hold a workshop in the World Journalism Education Congress to eduate journalists—who I believe want to get the facts straight—on the IGF. We owe it to ourselves and the world.
Ang Peng Hwa