US stranglehold undermines 'free and open' web
Posted in: Governance at 14/03/2014 11:16
The rhetoric of a 'free and open' web espoused by Tim Berners-Lee is undermined by America's disproportionate influence over it, argues Julia Powles in this guest column
Everybody loves a good anniversary: a nice round number, recurring sufficiently frequently to allow each generation to salute the greats with a sense of meaning and occasion. Yesterday's 25 years of the web was an altogether happy affair, full of praise and grace. No place for vitriol on a birthday. Nevertheless, good birthday speeches still wrap a bit of honesty amidst warmth and loving cheek.
The honesty, in this case, should be levelled at the ramped-up calls for an "open, neutral, and free" web where digital rights are protected, as championed by inventor Tim Berners-Lee with his online Magna Carta, and central to the European Parliament's plans for a European Digital Habeas Corpus. Quite apart from the misuse of Latin in these circumstances -- there's something utterly bizarre about using the web's entry into maturity as an occasion to return to 13th Century legalese -- these calls to action overlook a critically important first question. That question is: who governs the internet? Or, to put it completely baldly: when is the United States planning to share the cake?