Using WikiLeaks to police the Internet

Western governments and several others around the globe are hatching a plot that had apparently been in the making prior to WikiLeaks’ release of classiffied documents, hanging on WikiLeaks’ actions to justify why the internet must be regulated by some global standards – hence limiting the largely free nature of the medium.

At a meeting in New York on Wednesday, representatives from Brazil called for an international body made up of Government representatives that would attempt to create global standards for policing the internet – specifically in reaction to challenges such as WikiLeaks, according to the Australian IT News.

The Register reported that this initiative follows the decision at the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) 2010-2011 Inter-sessional Panel, reported in RawStory last week for a recently-formed United Nations task force to look at the possibility of creating a new inter-governmental working group to help further international cooperation on policies to police the internet.

However, critics have been swift to condemn this move. Writing on Google’s official blog, Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf stated: “The beauty of the Internet is that it’s not controlled by any one group. Its governance is bottoms-up [sic] — with academics, non-profits, companies and governments all working to improve this technological wonder of the modern world.

“This model has not only made the Internet very open – a testbed for innovation by anyone, anywhere – it’s also prevented vested interests from taking control. The current bottoms-up, open approach works — protecting users from vested interests and enabling rapid innovation. Let’s fight to keep it that way,” he noted.

Currently, the Internet system is operated by a privately held company based in California, which is responsible for coordinating servers and domain names – ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The new initiative is supposed to end the U.S. control over what’s become a global network.

With the Internet now dominating nearly every aspect of modern life, U.S. control of the medium has become a sensitive topic worldwide. In nations that try to control what people can see and hear, the Internet often is the only source of uncensored news and opinion, the Seattle Times reported. At the same time, U.S. officials say that keeping Internet functions under their control has protected that free flow of information.

According to IT News, India, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia appeared to favour a new possible over-arching inter-government body. However, Australia, US, UK, Belgium and Canada and some business and community representatives argue that there are risks in forming yet another working group that might isolate itself from the industry, community users and the general public.

In relation to this issue, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff wrote in their article, The Web is dead. Long live the Internet: “This was all inevitable. It is the cycle of capitalism. The story of industrial revolutions, after all, is a story of battles over control. A technology is invented, it spreads, a thousand flowers bloom, and then someone finds a way to own it, locking out others. It happens every time… Indeed, there has hardly ever been a fortune created without a monopoly of some sort, or at least an oligopoly. This is the natural path of industrialization: invention, propagation, adoption, control. Now it’s the Web’s turn to face the pressure for profits and the walled gardens that bring them.”

The WikiLeaks’ case apparently became the spark needed to start the new power struggle. And this is one more reason to question the real reasons behind WikiLeaks founders’ selflessness.

The Iranian leader who has led Tehran’s resistance to UN sanctions against its nuclear programme has recently also suggested that WikiLeaks was an American tool to plant misinformation around the world., according to the Telegraph.

“Let me first correct you. The material was not leaked, but rather released in an organised way,” said Mr Ahmadinejad. “We don’t give any value to these documents,” President Ahmadinejad said. “It’s without legal value. Iran and regional states are friends. Such acts of mischief have no impact on relations between nations.”

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