THE BLOG

Who Should Control the Internet? The People Who Use It

11/30/2012 10:34 am ET | Updated Jan 30, 2013
  • Ross LaJeunesse Global Head of Free Expression and International Relations, Google Inc.

Representatives from almost 200 nations are gathering in Dubai this week to debate control of the Internet at a treaty conference organized by the International Telecommunications Union, an arm of the United Nations.

There's one problem with this debate: No single entity controls the Internet. The Internet has always been an instrument of the people, designed to be open and free from the bottom up, not the top down.

Hundreds of government proposals are on the table at the ITU that would, among other things, introduce access fees and burdensome governmental controls over the network.

The true intent of these proposals isn't about making the Internet stronger; they're about making it weaker. There has never been a more powerful tool for free expression than the Internet and it's no surprise that forces against free expression are behind many of these efforts.

If successful, they would end the free and open Internet as we know it.

The Internet's open and free structure catalyzed the online digital revolution. In just a decade since its widespread use, the Internet has revolutionized nearly every form of communication and now serves more than two billion people worldwide.

The Internet is a force for economic growth, political movements, new forms of worker collaboration and the ways we learn and socialize.

Google is in Dubai fighting to maintain the integrity of a free and open Internet because our users expect and demand a free and open Internet.

Our users may love the simplicity of our tools and services and the clean interface, but they also depend on one simple principle: when they use Google services, they will find what they seek.

Like all companies, Google depends on the free marketplace to do business. What makes Google unique is that we depend on an open Internet to deliver on the promise of organizing the world's information and delivering it to our users, wherever they are.

While Google is in Dubai along with a coalition of industry and free speech leaders fighting these threats, we are also galvanizing the most important force of all: Internet users.

We urge all of you who care about the Internet to go to our Take Action site and add your voice so that government officials going to Dubai know that the free and open Internet needs to stay that way.

Perhaps the only people who want to fix what isn't broken with the free and open Internet are those who fear that a free and open Internet might break them.

The only way to defeat them is to make sure the Internet continues to belong to the people who build and use it. Given the reach and the power of the Internet, this may be one of the most important fights of this young century.