STOCKHOLM -- The Internet has already become the most important infrastructure of the world. And that's just the beginning. Soon it will also be the infrastructure of all of our other infrastructures. So far, the governance of the net has been a biosphere of informal and formal institutions with multiple stakeholders having a say, but none having a dominating influence. But the dynamics of its development would not have been possible without the strong role of the tech community.
We are all on this life journey together. We all have a voice. I use mine to communicate, to understand others, and to make the world a kinder place to live in. By spewing your commentary, it makes me wonder what else you do in life that pushes us all backwards in anger, instead of forwards in compassion.
Over the last few months, things have been looking good for keeping the Internet open to everyone. A little too good, as far as Congress is concerned, which is why members and the corporate lobbyists who write them hefty checks have launched a last-ditch legislative effort to scuttle net neutrality.
The Internet is simply an effective tool for connecting people. Whether the network becomes a force for good or evil is up to its users. It's only because millions of people have mobilized in defense of our rights to connect and communicate that the Internet pendulum occasionally swings toward doing good.
Have human rights principles been consigned to a museum because they prevented the combined forces of China's dictatorship and business community from asserting themselves? That at least is the impression you get from the moral lessons that the Communist Party's censorship apparatus increasingly deliver in no uncertain terms to Internet freedom advocates.
The challenger countries will once again try, as they did last December in Dubai, to wrest control from the coalition of stakeholders that has been governing the Internet under a contract with the U.S. government. If they succeed it will be the end of the world as we know it. There will be no Internet. There will be many nets: ChinaNet, Euronet, maybe Deutsche Net and France net and Brazil Net and Russia Net. It will resemble the world before the Internet with many private networks and a constant challenge of interconnection.
First, find who his or her biggest corporate donors are. Then check his or her record on policies that may impact the bottom lines of those companies. Does she support or oppose financial-sector reform? Has he recently signed a letter or released a statement opposing EPA curbs to coal-plant emissions?
Thanks to Snowden, we now know the Internet has become a giant government spying apparatus dependent on the complicity of companies we use everyday. A Reuters poll from April showed that a majority of Americans believe that technology companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are "encroaching too much upon their lives." It's a rather remarkable statistic given these companies were universally loved not that long ago, widely imagined to be allies of the people against the old oligarchs.
When President Barack Obama pledged to appoint a FCC chair who was dedicated to protecting net neutrality, we had no reason to doubt he'd find the right person for the job. Obama campaigned in 2008 as a strong champion of the open Internet, telling an audience that he'd "take a back seat to no one in my commitment to net neutrality." He said that his chair would share his views on safeguarding the open Internet. Now, the president is on his second FCC chair, and neither has proven himself up to the task. Obama's second FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, will put into circulation today a proposal for a new rule. All evidence suggests that Wheeler's proposal is a betrayal of Obama and of the millions of people who have called on the FCC to put in place strong and enforceable net neutrality protections.