Key Internet Institutions Ditch US Leadership; Brazil To Host Global Summit To Draw Up New Governance Model

from the payback-time dept

Here’s a hugely important story that brings together three major threads. First, the continuing wrangling over the form that Internet governance should take. Second, the fact that NSA’s massive surveillance operations around the world have included economic espionage. And third, Brazil’s increasingly angry reaction to that spying. As a post from the Internet Governance Project explains:

the Directors of all the major Internet organizations — ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society, all five of the regional Internet address registries — turned their back on the US government. With striking unanimity, the organizations that actually develop and administer Internet standards and resources initiated a break with 3 decades of U.S. dominance of Internet governance.

Those directors have issued what they call the “Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation,” which includes the following:

They called for accelerating the globalization of and functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

That’s a fairly clear call for the US to relinquish its dominant role. Another section hints at why this is happening now:

They expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance.

But this isn’t just some vague but meaningless statement of annoyance: those involved have already started working on ways to replace current structures, as this story on the site reports:

Brazil, which has slammed massive US electronic spying on its territory, said on Wednesday it would host a global summit on internet governance in April.

President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement after conferring in Brasilia with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of governments, industry, civil society and academia” to discuss Brazil’s suggestions for upgrading Internet security, Rousseff said on Twitter.

Once again, we see the NSA’s reckless disregard for the consequences of its global surveillance — far beyond what could be regarded as reasonable or proportionate — is now having massive adverse effects on America’s standing and influence in the world. The Internet Governance Project post puts it well:

Make no mistake about it: this is important. It is the latest, and one of the most significant manifestations of the fallout from the Snowden revelations about NSA spying on the global Internet. It’s one thing when the government of Brazil, a longtime antagonist regarding the US role in Internet governance, gets indignant and makes threats because of the revelations. And of course, the gloating of representatives of the International Telecommunication Union could be expected. But this is different. Brazil’s state is now allied with the spokespersons for all of the organically evolved Internet institutions, the representatives of the very “multi-stakeholder model” the US purports to defend. You know you’ve made a big mistake, a life-changing mistake, when even your own children abandon you en masse.

And before anyone tries to blame this latest development on Snowden, let’s be clear that the problem is not that this activity has been revealed, but that the NSA was doing it in the first place.

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Comments on “Key Internet Institutions Ditch US Leadership; Brazil To Host Global Summit To Draw Up New Governance Model”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That and Snowden taking a couple of extra beatings for revealing their abuse.

Hacking is one thing you would expect from cladestine institutions. Defrauding security standards is another tier entirely. I can see why ICANN and other central infrastructure players behind the internet want to put some air between them and US interests. Unfortunately, I am not convinced anything more significant than a little branching out of the existing structure will happen. USESC (United States of English Speaking Countries “The five eyes”) has far too much influence in the world, to not smite the internet by legislation if they try to move out of their control-sphere…

Anonymous Coward says:

As much as I’m happy with them telling the US gov to fuck themselves, I genuinely worry that they just traded the devil they know for the one they don’t.

The US Government was in it to spy for themselves, there is no telling who someone like Brazil would be willing to allow spy on the major networks. It may only take a paltry sum to the right people to allow widespread spying on their network, an offer I’m sure countries like China would be eager to jump at.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

there is no telling who someone like Brazil would be willing to allow spy on the major networks

What interest would Brazil have? And how would Brazil have any impact if a globalized model is being advocated, not something hosted and centralized in Brazil? You are comparing Brazil to much more censorious nations such as China and Russia. While it may not be the paragon in terms of freedom of speech and surveillance it’s quite a few steps above the US…

Anonymous Coward says:

This is just the beginning of the fallout over internet spying. In the years to come you will hear more and more about fragmenting the internet in one form or another to prevent or control the spying.

From Germany comes this one that not a single byte should leave Germany for spying purposes.

From Brazil now comes word they are working on new encryption to have secure email.

Or that the backlash has triggered a new search for technology to defeat that spying.

This sort of stuff starts slow but builds as time goes on and may well be years in the offing. The thing to notice with it, is that it has started within months of the Snowden revelations.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

It’s interesting to see how all of this spying and government intrusion into our lives and spying on our allies and other foreign governments and their leaders that’s going to force ICANN and all of these organizations that are responsible for the internet and see them break away from American dominance and force them to ally themselves with other governments.

Perhaps President Obama and the Democratic Party should have halted all of these spying programs because there is more and more resistance to the U.S. Government than ever before and this has all happened under the leadership of President Obama and the Democrats.

out_of_the_blue says:

just some vague but meaningless statement of annoyance

The Internet is MOSTLY spying; it’s THE “business model”. I’ve been hoping that others would notice and become alarmed at globalist mega-corporations tracking and collating one’s every move, but the tip point was way back, and now it’s going to be telescreens everywhere. SO, if Brazilians or you think you’re annoyed now, just wait five years!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: just some vague but meaningless statement of annoyance

“The Internet is MOSTLY spying;”

And everyone on here believes from all your comments on this site that “The Internet” is MOSTLY for piracy and people getting things for free and grifting off other peoples work.

So if The Internet is mostly spying then piracy must be in the MINORITY then and cannot therefore be the major problem that you have painted it as.

Anonymous Coward says:

International governance not such a good idea

Opposed though I am to the NSA’s activities, I fear this may result in greater censorship should several countries conspire to impose a “least common denominator” approach to regulating online speech and behavior, where activities that violate the laws of any of the countries involved are prohibited across all countries.

Hate speech? Forbidden. Speech likely to cause religious offense? Forbidden. Speech depicting illegal activities in a positive light? Forbidden. Is this really what we want?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: International governance not such a good idea

This is the biggest problem facing us now, and very unstable times for the internet.

On the one hand, the US has proven unequivocally that it cannot be trusted to be the sole entity in the drivers seat of the internet. That absolutely needs to change, and the sooner the better.

But your concern is completely valid. I think the answer is not that any other single nation gets to have control instead. It will have to be an extra-national collective of interests bound by a strict charter. Whether or not we can get there remains to be seen, but I don’t think this is a case of better the devil we know than the devil we don’t.

The worst case scenario is that we will end up having to do what we’d have to do if nothing changes at all: replace the internet.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: International governance not such a good idea

Even if some supra-national body is formed and we effectively have multiple parties taking care of Internet governance there are still risks. See the UN. It’s a freaking sham where a few countries with nukes can veto what they don’t like. In an ideal world such Internet governance body would be composed of a good majority of countries and each would have similar powers when weighting into the subject. Or at least something close to it.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: International governance not such a good idea


I think that we may have to accept a certain amount of balkanization of the internet (which seems inevitable anyway).

I take it back to its roots. The “internet” is nothing but a network of networks. Any governance is limited to defining how these networks interact with each other. What the networks do on their side of the internet interface is not the domain of internet regulations at all. That’s how it should stay.

What we need to get away from is imposing political boundaries on top of the internet. The internet is not one country connecting to another country, after all. It’s individual networks connecting to other individual networks. Each network may or may not be confined within a given political boundary.

There’s no panacea for any of this. The US mishandling of the internet has all but assured that the usefulness of the internet has been reduced. The only question now is how much is it going to be reduced by.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 International governance not such a good idea

The problem is that nations will likely seek greater control over the Internet than just how the various networks “interact with each other.” Just look at how the international treaty process has been co-opted by copyright holders and think of what might happen with SOPA/PIPA/DMCA-type attempts to regulate the global network. Consider also how groups of nations may favor reciprocal enforcement of numerous local regulations, and I think you can see how this could lead to only the safest most harmless speech and behavior being allowed online (thus, “least common denominator” free speech).

The Internet is too important to be regulated by politicians.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 International governance not such a good idea

Are we looking for control over technical standards or control over content and behavior? Which of these should we delegate to an international body, and how involved should governments be in that body’s decision-making? Do stakeholders have a voice only through their governments, or do they have a voice within the body itself?

I favor giving no regulatory power whatsoever to whatever international body might be created, and giving stakeholders a direct voice over technical issues without governments playing any special role in decision-making.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: International governance not such a good idea

I have to agree with you on this.

If ICANN starts going for the “least common denominator” approach to regulating online speech and behavior, instead of the “piss off, we’re from the Internet” approach that’s we’ve had thanks to the US and its “freedom of speech” helping guide things, then the NSA really has killed the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

The US has lost it’s creditability when it comes to human rights and stating to be the supporter of ‘doing the right thing’.

You had Hillary at China giving the Chinese leadership the typical ‘human rights’ sermon, while at home, the NSA, FBI, and local police forces were all teaming up on the OWS movement. The very thing Hillary was preaching to the Chinese not to do while it was being done at the home front.

The US has become something of a laughing stock for hypocritical speeches and positions. When it is not being actively laughed at it’s being despised for what it does. Pakistan is certainly no shining banner of truth in political actions yet here is the US proclaiming that all killed with a Hellfire missile shot from a drone are 100% terrorists. Is there any way to quicker turn possible friends into guaranteed enemies while lying about it?

I’m not saying that terrorists should not be touched but that the message at home about what is done, is not the actual facts but a cover story. All women and children are not terrorists anymore than all US citizens are.

Pick your country that the US has dealings with and find some worm under the carpet. What we stood for then and what we stand for and do now are not the same and honestly, I am distressed at what I see our government doing in our name.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know that they aren’t forthcoming about the wives and children of terrorists being offed with the man of the house. I’ve heard that before and most people consider that acceptable collateral damage.

But to think that we have never made a mistake in identifying:

1. who should be killed?
2. where they will be at a given time?

is laughable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

More importantly these ‘terrorists’ are not given any chance to defend themselves in a court of law.

It is simply decided by the US that these people need to die, so what happens to all the survivors that are affected by the ‘collateral damage’? They probably go on to hate the US and become ‘terrorists’ themselves. I think they need to break this cycle and try to make the world like them again.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Brazilian situation is funny.

If you connect on the cheap by only allowing North / South traffic then you should US inception.

If Brazil did not want the US to intercept all traffic that leaves Brazil then Brazil should not rout all their traffic through the US.

On the other hand Brazil could start laying cable Brazil to Europe and Brazil to Australia.

Anonymous Coward says:

I must admit surprise at the speed at which this is occurring. While the real impact isn’t there yet, I look forward to a more decentralised, more secure Internet in years to come.

And for those saying “but wherever it goes there’ll be spies” – maybe. But at the moment, we absolutely know that the US is spying on Internet traffic.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s not just the spying business that has been going on that is the problem. it has been said many times that what the USA is up to as well is business related, ie, not just political. every time there is a new ‘Trade Agreement’ in the offering, it is instigated by the USA and it benefits no one else either at all or anywhere near as much as the USA. the people in other countries even more than the people in the USA are totally ignored. countries that object to what is proposed are threatened with ‘trade sanctions’ for doing so!
i dont understand why it is that everywhere just buckles down to what the USA says. what is going to happen to the countries, to the people, who say ‘NO!’? i’m trying to think of something the USA offers that cant be sourced from somewhere else, but cant!
if the summit goes ahead in April in Brazil, one of the most important things that needs to be on the agenda is the actions of the USA in these so-called ‘trade deals’. shame it will be too late to stop what it is up to in the TPP secret (yet again!) talks!

Joaquim Sousa says:

NSA surveillance

Let me say that all governments certainly make eletronic surveillance and espionage. The Portuguese, the french, US, all of them.
What I think is that it was truly bad again for the American image and reputation to get involved in such a worldwide scandal of espionage and surveillance – security breach.
This has created political unrest in Europe and by the European Union and it heightened distrust and conflict among nations. Truly sad! In Europe people became disgusted with the revelations that came up with this scandal. These things cannot happen! Again US failed and hurted its reputation.

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