from the smokescreens dept
The battle for countries wishing to take control over internet governance (either to increase control and censorship or to “reward” local state-owned telcos) didn’t end with the whole WCIT debacle a year and a half ago. It’s an ongoing process. This week is NETmundial, or the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Governance, and the usual countries are making the usual noise about changing how internet governance works. There will be lots of talk about how meaningful these discussions will be, or if they’ll just be a “farce” to enable authoritarian governments more control. Either way, there are some important proposals and discussions happening at the event.
And some nutty ones.
Take, for example, India’s proposal that we rename the internet as the Equinet as a way to “challenge US hegemony.” Because that will do it.
In a major diplomatic initiative, India is all set to challenge the U.S.’ hegemony of the World Wide Web at a global meet on Internet governance in Sao Paulo (Brazil) next week. India has decided to propose renaming of Internet as ‘Equinet’ so that all nations can have equal say in its operations, besides calling for “internationalisation” of core Internet resources.
Of course, the naming bit is the smokescreen attention-grabber for the other point. Setting up so that “all nations” (note: not all people) can have a say in the operations of the internet is a specific attack on the so-called “multistakeholder” model that is currently in place, in which it’s not government entities making these decisions, but a broad group of folks from different backgrounds and specialties (including, many technical experts). Hand the internet over to “governments” and you have a recipe for disaster. If you want more evidence of how troubling this is, look at who India is “aligning itself” with in this proposal:
India is likely to side with Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa and Iran to make its point.
Brazil, which organized this event, has been pushing for stronger internet freedoms lately, but also has a history of going in the other direction. Russia, China and Iran, of course, are very much focused on greater control and censorship of the internet, not greater freedom.
There are lots of important things worth discussing concerning internet governance, but renaming the internet as a challenge to US control (which isn’t actually US control) is pretty silly. What’s much more concerning is the underlying attempt to give some authoritarian countries with long histories of censorship more direct control over the internet. Equinet sounds ridiculous, but Censornet may be more accurate.