ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Parminder Jeet SinghSubscribe to Parminder Jeet Singh

Internet Governance

The recent decision of the United States government to cede its control over the internet's naming and addressing system to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a US-based international non-profit body, is heralded as a significant step towards the globalisation of internet's core infrastructure. But with ICANN having no special jurisdictional immunity and subject to the whims of the judicial and legislative branches of the US government as well as many of its executive agencies, the decision seems more symbolic than meaningful.

Internet Governance: Is the Internet Really Free of US Control?

The recent decision of the United States government to cede its control over the internet’s naming and addressing system to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a US-based international non-profit body, is heralded as a significant step towards the globalisation of internet’s core infrastructure. But with ICANN having no special jurisdictional immunity and subject to the whims of the judicial and legislative branches of the US government as well as many of its executive agencies, the decision seems more symbolic than meaningful.

Net Neutrality Is Basically Internet Egalitarianism

Net neutrality is neither a technical principle nor something necessary to uphold free markets. It is an egalitarian principle as applied to a key building block of the new social system of the internet. But it is equally important to check the concurrent tendencies of rapid centralisation of power in so many areas that the networked social logic has caused. To be able to ensure this, the related principles of neutrality, non-discrimination and equity have to be applied consistently and meticulously across all layers of the internet.

From a Public Internet to the Internet Mall

Commercial arrangements between telecom and internet companies are beginning to create "internet malls" that will give preferential access to a few internet companies. These structures will eventually undermine the public internet that we know and celebrate. Governments that are now ignorant of IT regulatory issues need to act soon on net neutrality so that the public internet remains in place.

Framing a Global Information Society Discourse

The outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunis in November 2005 were widely seen as "fuzzy". But the WSIS was never mandated with a clearly defined global "problem". The summit was held at a time when US-led interests were active in undermining several democratic forums of global governance, even as global capital appeared increasingly intolerant towards public policy regimes. Thus there was a consistent attempt to keep several substantive issues out of the summit discussions. Moreover, the private sector, as a supposed leader of the information society, was pushed in very questionable ways into various governance arrangements.
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