Judging by the fact government regulations such as CISPA and ACTA are now threatening to become law, it seems governments around the world have finally realized that the web is not a passing fad – and they want a piece of the action. So, while copyright, patent, and privacy bills are read and amended by politicians completely unqualified to interpret their meanings or inevitable consequences, companies such as Google are left to lobby congress in favor of keeping the internet open and unregulated.
Today, Vint Cerf, Google’s vice president and chief internet evangelist, testified before the U.S. congress about the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) recent efforts to increase its authority over the internet. The ITU is the United Nations (UN) agency in charge of international policy regarding telephone services and radio frequencies. The ITU is reviewing international telecommunications agreements, and is expected to expand its regulatory authority at a UN treaty summit in December. Google, in a post on its Public Policy Blog, stated that expanding the ITU’s authority “has the potential to restrict and endanger the future of the open internet.”
Cerf, who is also a fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and calls himself one of the “fathers of the internet,” testified this morning before the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee on Internet Governance. From the blog post:
Vint’s testimony emphasizes the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance and technical management. He also encourages the U.S. Government—in partnership with like-minded countries and their citizens—to engage in the ITU process to ensure transparency, openness and innovation and protect free expression.
Cerf’s prepared testimony, which can be read in a PDF released by Google, blasted world governments for attempting to regulate the internet, which has brought an “unprecedented explosion in commerce and creativity.” Cerf recognizes that the internet has now grown up, and is in danger of being regulated into something less that it could otherwise become with the freedom to grow openly. From Cerf’s testimony:
“…despite the significant positive impact of the Internet on the world’s economy, this amazing technology stands at a crossroads. The Internet’s success has generated a worrying desire by some countries’ governments to create new international rules that would jeopardize the network’s innovative evolution and its multi-faceted success.”
Cerf went on to state that the actions of the ITU to expand its regulatory authority pose “potentially hazardous” implications for the internet in the future. “If all of us do not pay attention to what is going on, users worldwide will be at risk of losing the open and free internet that has brought so much to so many,” said Cerf.