The Internet Governance Forum: Will Theory Lead To Action?
In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: The Internet Governance Forum: Will Theory Lead To Action?
2. Today's Top Story
- Microsoft Responds To Vista License Concerns
- Standards Body Strengthens Office Open XML
3. Breaking News
- New From Cybercrooks: Fake Chrome, Pump-And-Dump
- Phishing Domain Resale Market Booms
- How To Avoid The Patent Trap
- Review: Netgear's Skype Phone Keeps You Connected
- Judge Mulls If Site Demoted By Google Was Defamed
- Big Ideas, Small Budgets
- Wal-Mart Takes Its Lumps Online, But Charges Ahead With Refreshed Site
- Federal Government Begins Rollout Of Smart Cards To Employees
- University Researchers Break Ground In Molecular Computing
- Jajah Offers VoIP Without The Internet
- Intel Shows Off Quad-Core Xeon
- Time To Teach Digital Etiquette, Experts Suggest
4. Grab Bag
- Copyright Office Delays Triennial DMCA Ruling (Public Knowledge)
- Under Fire, Soldiers Kill Blogs (Wired News)
- Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade? (The Chronicle Of Higher Education)
5. In Depth: China
- Chinese Companies Favoring Soft IP
- IBM, Lehman Bros. Launch China Investment Fund
- China May Require Bloggers To Register Under Their Real Names
- Microsoft Adding 500 Engineers In China
- Zilog To Increase Investment In China
6. Voice Of Authority
- Do You Use Vista Or Does Vista Use You, Continued
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- How Enterprise Single Sign-On Can Help You Survive A Sarbanes-Oxley Audit
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Quote of the day:
"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." -- Paulo Freire
1. Editor's Note: The Internet Governance Forum: Will Theory Lead To Action?
The first meeting of the U.N. Internet Governance Forum (IGF) began yesterday in Athens, and it's promoting a very worthy agenda. Some of the critical issues to be discussed include these: Who has access to the Internet? Who has control? What are the best ways to combat spam, phishing, and child pornography? How can we protect freedom of speech online--especially in countries with repressive regimes?
The biggest issue, of course, is whether the forum can move past the "town meeting" format, as chairman Nitin Desai has called it, to one that will actually result in action.
(You can watch the Webcast live--translated into English in real time--by going to the IGF's main Web site and clicking on the prominently displayed link there.)
The motivation for the forum is an urgent one. The Internet is now so socially, politically, and commercially important that it long ago outgrew its origins as a network run by and for computer specialists. It is now the very center of government administration, business operations, telecommunications, news distribution, and broadcasting of private opinion. The logical conclusion, according to the organizers: We can no longer trust scientists, technologists, and government organizations to manage it.
Thus the ongoing debate over whether ICANN can be trusted to continue with its oversight of the Internet is likely to be in the spotlight this week. In particular, one recent hot button is whether ICANN is dragging its feet on allowing non-Latin characters in domain names. The IGF is expected to spawn impassioned debate on this and other culturally and politically explosive issues.
So there will be a lot of talking. Will anyone actually be listening?
For starters, there are so many conflicting interests to appease. There are governments anxious about legal and regulatory issues. Private corporations determined to protect their commercial interests. Consumer groups advocating safeguards against corporate greed. Political activists urging protection of free speech. And, yes, there are still the all-important technologists and computer scientists concerned about security, protocols, and performance issues.
As Bill Thompson points out in his blog for the BBC, the language in the IGF's mandate is anything but action oriented. There are all sorts of squishy terms such as "facilitate discourse," "promote and assess," and "help to find solutions." In short, the IGF has no teeth.
Then there was the very ironic--and much blogged about--incident last week, in which Greek cybercrime authorities, apparently unaware that a global forum on Internet rights was about to convene in their back yard, arrested the Webmaster of a blog aggregation Web site simply because he had linked to a satirical blog.
What do you think? Have you been following the debate over the efficacy of the IGF? Do you believe the Internet is too America-centric? Does the United Nations have a prayer of wresting influence away from big business and politicians? Let me know what you think by responding to my blog entry.
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