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[I-coordination] What is 1net to me?

Phillip Hallam-Baker hallam at
Mon Dec 2 19:11:05 CET 2013

There is a big disconnect between the various stakeholders here.

On the technology side there is a generally held belief that the net does
not require governance, a belief that is even more widely held among the
people who exercise functions generally considered to be 'governance'.

On the government side there is a tendency to think in terms of
institutions and processes rather than desired outcomes.

And on top of this there are a series of cultural barriers. Americans tend
to hold the belief that foreign persons have no right to criticize their
government and that any such criticism stems from some sort of
'anti-American' bigotry similar to anti-Semitism.

The latest push for accountability and openness in governance comes from
the Snowden disclosures and the real question at issue is whether the rest
of the world can trust the US not to abuse their power over the Internet.

While every state performs some form of espionage activity, the capacity to
engage in such activities varies greatly as does the restraint and the
degree of accountability under which such practices take place.

Americans have a reputation for blunt speaking which is wholly undeserved
in my experience. I come from Yorkshire where we call a spade a bloody

The US military is beyond criticism in the US. Even when it is responsible
for actions such as this:

Ten years later there has still been no credible enquiry into the use of
torture by the US military. Yet there are only two explanations for such
behavior. Either the torture occurred with official sanction which was
subsequently covered up or because the chain of command has lost control of
its subordinates, or both.

Neither explanation suggests that the NSA is a fit or proper agency to
protect us from terrorism. They are part of the problem, not the solution.

And on the other side we have a government that does this

There is of course only one reason to use a poison that could only be found
in a government laboratory and that is to make sure everyone knows that the
murder was state sanctioned.

This is not a problem peculiar to particular countries or governments, it
is a mindset in which any potential risk is to be responded to with brute
force. Such a mindset does not react well to the Internet or the Web. They
are likely to consider the Internet as "a failed state" because it lacks
the governance and order their personal comfort requires.

Rather than analyzing the problem of Internet control in terms of processes
and institutions, we need to look at the interests the stakeholders are
looking to protect. In each case we have a choice of institutional or
technical means. to take a simple example, we can't expect to protect
personal privacy through intergovernmental regulation but we can do so
through pervasive cryptography.

The real issue for the Internet users is to find out where Brazil intends
to stand or more importantly where it will not.
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