A meeting to determine how the internet should be governed is under way in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, organised the two-day NetMundial event following allegations the US National Security Agency (NSA) had monitored her phone and emails.
Last month the US announced plans to give up its oversight of the way net addresses are distributed. But campaigners have warned the move could backfire.
The US currently determines who runs the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the body responsible for regulating the internet’s codes and numbering systems. But Washington now aims to pass the duty over to the “global multi-stakeholder community” by September 2015. Human rights group Article 19 supports that idea, but said there were potential pitfalls.
“Part of the strength of the internet over the last couple of decades has been that the technical aspects have not had direct political or government interference,” explained the group’s executive director, Thomas Hughes, who is attending the event. “The real nightmare situation would be the Balkanisation of the internet with governments changing technical standards to suit commercial interests, to remove interoperability between different countries or regions of the world, and to give them the ability to perform things like mass surveillance and the control of content.”
About 850 government officials, academics, campaigners and technical experts, including web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee, are attending NetMundial.
The goal is to agree shared principles and highlight specific issues that could form the basis of later internet governance discussions.
Phi Beta Iota: What matters with respect to the Internet is free access (OpenBTS, Open Spectrum) and complete autonomy. “Balkanization” is a form of censorship that free spirits will easily route around.