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Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governance

"Global media baron Rupert Murdoch is steaming ahead with plans to dominate the Internet, telling investors to expect his strategy for conquest to be unveiled within weeks." (SMH Online, 22 September 2005)

The article quoted above mentions that Rupert Murdoch told News Corp investors in August that he is on "an aggressive hunt" for Internet assets and wants to become a major player "very quickly".  His own current media outlets use terms like "the company's growing online arsenal."

Mr Murdoch has already got a bloody big war chest and expects News Limited's Internet revenue to grow from $US100 million ($130 million) this financial year to between $US500 million and $US1 billion in five years. He clearly aims to "conquer the Internet" and during the past few days we've had some insight into how his corporate soldiers operate.  We’ve just started learning about how they sunk Kerry Stokes' C7 pay television station (courtesy of testimony recounting a meeting between Kerry Stokes and James Packer) and I’m sure we’ll learn more soon. Do the power plays behind the sinking of C7 tell us something about what Mr Murdoch's "aggressive hunt" and “strategy for conquest” will likely involve?  I reckon they do. 

In other news we learned yesterday that China has set new regulations on Internet news, widening a campaign of controls it has imposed on other websites.  Mr Murdoch's sure to have his eye on the big prize that is the people of China. Capturing this massive market must be something top of mind for him.  Murdoch's Aussie papers reported it as China's 'healthy' web news. Personally I don't think a dedicated band of cyber police who patrol the Internet with the aim of regulating content is really that healthy, whereas the leaders of some corporations, like those at Yahoo! recently, take the view that if you want to make a buck then you've got to do whatever it takes – including collaboration with Chinese cyber cops!  I wonder what Mr Murdoch really thinks about all this and whether he's read any of William Gibson’s works.

The news of Murdoch's grand plans to dominate the Internet and China's cyberspace crackdown has got me thinking about the future of the Internet and e-democracy once again (see Click 'enter' for e-democracy?). I think about the millions of ordinary people using the World Wide Web to connect with each other and see this as an essential tool for power dispersal.  The age of the Internet has brought with it exciting, fresh ideas about the disintermediation of power and peer accountability. But who is responsible for the standards and functions of the network itself?

When I start thinking about the path ahead I find it handy to refresh my memory of where we've been so that I can better comprehend both the track we're on and those we strayed off.  I came across this recent article by Bill Thompson on openDemocracy.net in which he charts the history of Internet governance, reflects on what has been lost as accountability passes from the hands of the geeks to those of the politicians and lawyers, and offers his proposal for redressing the democratic deficit. I immediately thought of sharing it with the Webdiary community, so I sought (and gained) permission from the publishers.

This article forms part of the “Peer Power: Reinventing Accountability” debate. AccountAbility, openDemocracy’s partner in this debate, will hold a major event, “Accountability 21: Reinventing Accountability for the 21st Century” on 3 - 5 October in London.  I'll provide an update on the outcomes of this event through the comments thread.

The Democratic Republic of Cyberspace?
by Bill Thompson

The Internet we know today traces its lineage back to 1968 and the ARPANET research network that linked together computers at four US universities. Although it is often presented as a triumph of the free market and a prime example of how the invisible hand can create something of great social value, the net is in fact the product of public investment and an operational model that allowed levels of cooperation and consensus of which the private sector is simply incapable.

There are two reasons for its success. First, for ten years after it was created in 1983 the Internet was generally ignored by politicians, policy-makers, campaigning organisations and almost everyone outside the circle of university researchers who were building it. And second, those who created the standards, built the physical network and wrote the code were interested in creating something that worked, not something that satisfied interest groups, promoted any particular agenda or met with the approval of anyone except themselves.

This is no longer the case. Over the last decade the net has gone from being a largely academic pastime to become a key part of the infrastructure of the burgeoning network society. The old mechanisms have broken down as the bodies defining the net’s technical architecture have become more distant from ordinary users. This has created a democratic deficit that leaves the future development of the network open to capture by two very powerful interests – private corporations and national governments – to the exclusion of civil society.

The conflict between them, both seeing themselves as the appropriate locus for the networks’ development, is clearly shown in the debate which is hotting up ahead of November’s World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). A “working group on Internet governance” (WGIG) was convened after the December 2003 WSIS meeting, and it has come up with a range of proposals for the governance of the Internet, governance it defines as

“the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet."

Most of the discussion circles around the future of ICANN, the body set up in 1998 by the US government to manage the domain name system and the allocation of IP addresses. As a result wider issues will remain largely unaddressed.

WGIG’s proposals assume that the technical aspects of managing the Internet can be separated from policy issues. The idea is that international bodies can be left to agree the technical standards and network architecture while national governments deal with content regulation, community standards and other “political” aspects.

This is not a feasible proposition. In Code (Basic Books, 1999), Internet law professor Lawrence Lessig showed how the characteristics of the software that creates the network constrain what we can do online. Lessig’s dictum that “code is law” cuts both ways, and a clear but largely unexplored implication is that our political decisions must be implemented in software if they are to have any effect.

It is not enough for politicians to believe that they can will the ends without engaging in the means, so if the government of China wants to restrict access to websites promoting democracy they have to build (or buy) firewalls, routers and filters. This also implies that any political requirements have to be reflected in technical standards, so national governments will inevitably end up attempting to influence or drive the core technologies. Attempts to separate the technical aspects of the network’s operation and the political imperatives of individual governments will simply not work.

The Internet is both a place and a way of communicating, and the space it defines is one that we find hard to govern. It is not separate from the real world, but it is connected to it in ways that challenge existing hierarchies and social structures. Instead of relying on these existing structures to find a solution for Internet governance, we should aim to govern the Internet in accordance with its own principles: those of distributed responsibility, disintermediation and peer review.

Old Models, New Structures

In this we can learn from the spirit of the early Internet. This spirit is exemplified by one of its key technical bodies, the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF. Formed in 1986, it remains the main technical body determining Internet standards. All of the core network protocols, from the Internet protocol that glues the networks together to the complexities of sending multimedia attachments with emails (MIME) were decided there and promulgated to the wider net-using community through a series of documents called, with admirable humility “request for comment”, or RFC (they can all be read at www.faqs.org/rfcs).

The IETF was, during its most important period, accountable to the entire net community by virtue of the fact that its meetings were open to all comers, with no need for accreditation or authentication. Its processes were all transparent and it reported in depth on the very network it was dedicated to creating. Anyone could propose, discuss, suggest modifications to and criticise any standard or proposed standard.

The IETF remains in place, but corporate interests and government demands have undermined it to the point where new standards are almost impossible to agree or fatally undermined by corporate selfishness. Current proposals to reduce spam emails, for example, are unlikely to move forward because Microsoft refuses to accept that its own technology will not be adopted as the basis for a standard.

Government interference is also rife. Many of the issues the IETF currently faces have emerged because political requirements cannot be absorbed within the technical discussion. Those responsible for the core network architecture are either unaware of or actively opposed to any attempt to take social and political aspects into account. Clearly a way needs to be found to let these aspects into the debate.

Power to the People

The network makes collaboration easy and we have many examples of joint working, information-sharing and data distribution to inspire our new approach to net governance:

  • At the program level, peer-to-peer networks confound the efforts of the copyright police to enforce nineteenth-century models of intellectual property
  • Skype users rip apart the telephone companies’ business plans and offer only free calls in return
  • Members of large online communities manage contact lists that run into the thousands
  • Users of auction sites use reputation and prior history to decide whether to rely on a seller

Internet governance does not need a simple-minded direct democracy, where standards are proposed and voted on by the ill-informed masses, but a true deliberative forum that takes full advantage of the affordances of the Internet itself and extends membership to all who wish to engage.

Such a forum is in danger of being dominated by the same interests that have already captured the existing structures, so we need to take the more radical but very desirable step of taking governments and corporations out of the technical space entirely. The simplest way to achieve this is to restrict membership of the deliberative community to individuals, with no corporate, organisational, company or any other forms of representation possible.

Instead of representatives, we will have the people speaking without intermediaries, members of a massive, distributed, online community which determines Internet standards, set up and managed by an international body (on which more later) which backs up those standards with research, reference materials and test implementations of software, the whole system using advanced community management tools to make it work. In this way the net could be the key to its own salvation.

The forum will be a combination of eBay’s auctions, the Second Life multiplayer game and the Slashdot community, based around a reputation system that provides greater weight to the opinions of those who have provided sound advice and shown good judgement in the past.

Unlike blogging platforms which measure only incoming links and cannot distinguish between a populist ranter and a reasoned debate, this reputation system will rank participants on many different axes and provide a means of deciding whether to listen to someone. Governments and companies will, of course, provide people who will join the group and argue their employer’s case, but every member’s affiliations, commercial interests and prior history will be clearly visible to all, and the scale of membership will make it unfeasible to manipulate its deliberations.

All discussions and all choices will be in the public record, so tools available to analyse voting patterns, like those at PublicWhip, will show whether a particular individual always votes the Microsoft line – perhaps they are an employee or a lobbyist with a declared interest, perhaps they are just an enthusiast for Windows.

Once decisions are made then national governments will have to judge whether their political goals can be achieved using the international standards or whether they need to deviate from them. But at least the standards will be set in a way that does not allow government and corporate agendas undue influence.

This is not a perfect solution. Firstly, it fails to address one of the core problems facing any form of net governance, which is how to represent the interests of those who are not yet connected but will be in future, the next five billion users, and some method must be found to allow them to have a voice.

Secondly, central guidance cannot be taken out of the equation altogether. Responsibility for the system must clearly lie with the United Nations, (or one of the agencies in the UN system such as the International Telecommunications Union) creating a direct connection between the highest levels of the UN system and ordinary users. Putting aside current debate surrounding its future, those of us with faith in the UN must work for its reform and rehabilitation. Giving a UN agency responsibility for the net is one way of achieving this.

Without a way of reconciling the vastly differing interests of private companies, public bodies, governments and civil society, the prospects for the Internet’s future as anything other than a heavily-censored, highly inefficient and privately run data network are poor indeed. It is time to strip out the intermediaries and the vested interests and return net governance to the people.

This article by Bill Thompson was originally published on openDemocracy.net under a Creative Commons Licence. If you enjoyed this article, visit openDemocracy.net for more.


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re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

This is a superb, very thought-provoking article.

I like the author's idea of a global decision-making 'deliberative forum' for infotech, based on individuals not groups. It needs refinement - and like almost every large-scale system, it's open to potential abuse (for example, electronic voting is making the USA's mainstream 'democracy' a farce), but perhaps less so than most other, more conventional decision-making models.

I especially like the notion of empowered and rational individuals taking on the task of reform directly - including reform of global governance - without reference to Governments and corporations. The inter-national system is broken and even baby step reform of the UN is being blocked by reactionary interests; the main beneficiaries of this broken system are global corporations which play the system for what its worth - giving themselves in the process the greatest unacknowledged tax break in history. If we took global corporations off welfare and deployed the proceeds wisely, we could well afford to fix the planet's many urgent problems.

We need political machinery to reflect the will of the world's people as a whole, without reference to 'nationality' - and somehow must also find a way to tame transnational corporations and force tem to be decent global citizens.

Perhaps what Bill Thompson proposes could become the inaugural institution of the United Peoples Organisation? If it can be made to work for infotech, what else might follow?

Of course, such a change cannot happen without large-scale, widespread popular demand - and will inevitably be attacked from the beneficiaries of the current order. But that's life - in our times.

It's lonely for this generation, sometimes, because we have no real precedents for the scale of the problems we face - or the scale of the solutions which must be found.

Like the White Queen, perhaps we need to practice believing in "impossible things" - like a peaceful, democratic planetary society.

Or perhaps we need to stop believing in really impossible things, such as 'Magic Bullets' and fuel fires making steel framed tower blocks collapse in their own footprint.

After all, before a "magic bullet" smashed into his skull, a US President presented a document to the UN General Assembly entitled "Freedom From War - The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World" - a proposal about as radical as that of Bill Thompson, in its way.

Oh, and what's happened to the 'author' of the "magic bullet" theory? His name, these days, is Senator Arlen Specter, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee - and he just gave the nod to the latest Chief of the US Supreme Court.

A society which fails to learn from its past is likely to relive it. Tricked into believing in the wrong sort of impossible things a generation ago (magic bullets to cover up ugly assassinations, rather than the beautiful goal of world peace), we face the same danger today - and possibly some of the same cast?

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Thanks for this contribution, Craig. Useful, informative, and essential.

The internet has really caused a "revolution", but it also represents a revolution itself. Let me make just some comments to help the debate along:

IT'S FREE - thanks to the founders the basic tenet of the internet is that "it's free, gratis". Sure, we pay money for connecting etc., but many of the building blocks itself have been set up to be free and universal. From the beginning the Open Source software building networks, search engine submission etc. were deliberately set up as free services, example the Google search function. The bursting of the Dot Com bubble is partly a result of the failure of corporations to set themselves up permanently as profit-making ventures within this free-for-all environment.

IT'S DEMOCRATIC - Those who want to make money from the internet by having folks visit their website, are largely dependent on the wishes of the worldwide population's choices. The more people like the site and visit it and link to it, the more popular it becomes and the higher it ranks with Google.

Within this context it remains to be seen whether Rupert Murdoch, who, five years too late, wants to buy the internet. His initial moves are not wise - purchasing questionable companies and paying way too much for those companies - I think he's trying to act like some Overlord, but as yet he has no success - he's just spending money like there's no tomorrow.

IT'S ANTI-CAPITALIST, ANTI-CORPORATE - ask Bill Gates. The enormous army of hackers is fed mainly by their desire to undermine corporate greed, or what they perceive as corporate greed. Countless viruses were developed to target Microsoft products, and the rise of free software that mimmicks MS products, such as the Firefox browsers, is another example.

The Chinese may want to control internet access of their population, but the success of that attempt also remains to be seen. Anyone around the world can anonymously surf the internet. If you surf using the Anonymiser website, nobody will know where you've been: it is the anonymiser website software that visits the places where you go on your computer, and it leaves no trace with your ISP, or, for that matter the Chinese government. And, if you use a Linux Operating System in China, there's no way the government can identify you as being a visitor to "forbidden" websites. And no doubt the army of hacker kids are already helping Chinese people to remain anonymous by offering more free software that takes out any traces of your IP address and sites visited.

From the little I have read about the problems with ICANN, it appears to me that it is the conflict between the forces listed above and the old-fashioned desire to control by 'authorities' that has so far stalled the resolution of the issue.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Thanks Sid and Jack. I sensed Bill Thompson's piece was essential information too. I saw an article today about needing needing a passport to surf the net from Italian connections and thought about the OpenDemocracy.net article by Becky Hogge about the Great Firewall of China (as linked in Bill's piece). In it Becky writes:

"According to Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005: A Country Study, the most rigorous survey of Chinese internet filtering to date, China’s censorship regime extends from the fatpipe backbone to the street cyber-café. Chinese communications infrastructure allows packets of data to be filtered at “choke points” designed into the network, while on the street liability for prohibited content is extended onto multiple parties – author, host, reader – to chilling effect. All this takes place under the watchful eye of machine and human censors, the latter often volunteers."

Makes you think about Mr Chen Yonglin’s claim of a thousand Chinese spies working in Australia and Jennifer Zeng’s year in hell, doesn't it?

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Craig, thanks for the thought provoking article. I found it a bit obtuse in places, but aren't they all?

The biggie in Net governance is sovereignty. The Net is profoundly globalist in its reach and the interactions it facilitates, as Bill Thompson states, it creates challenges. There is no conventional jurisdiction that can adequately govern the net - the Chinese response is of course one way conventional jurisdictions can respond... But, I could set up a portable satellite dish pretty much anywhere in China and avoid their surf police quite easily if I wished. This is globalisation, baby!

The notion of a forum of right minded folk is alluring, but won't that just create a new elite that will be open to the criticisms our current elites cop? Also, (for example) given that Microsoft has a bzillion employees, how would such a forum be protected from them all signing up as 'individuals' under assumed identities and pushing Bill's commercial agendas?

The notion of a reputation system is a winner - Margo, combine it with 'tipping' and bolt it on to Webdiary, straightaway!!!

Jack, I beg to differ on your perception of the Internet as anti-capitalist / anti-corporate. Certainly the net threatens commercial and other activities that have hitherto relied on information assymetry, but I'd regard it as fundamentally pro-capitalist in doing that - opening up whole new worlds and avenues for commerce. A friend of mine runs something called Evalueserve Inc, a compelling global 'virtual business' only made possible because of the immediacy of global communication over the net.

The net has enabled whole new forms of commerce - eg: 'Tipping' and 'Reputation based interaction'. As seen on eBay and no doubt soon elsewhere, and facilitating commercial propositions we can only begin to imagine now I suspect.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

That's hillarious. The writer has no idea why corporations have such a big say in drafting standards. The main reason is that if not enough of the market agrees to the standard then it's useless. Thus, the bigger players in the market have a bigger say. If Microsoft doesn't implement Email v 2.0 then Email v 2.0 is not going to be as successful.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Ed. Craig Rowley: Please note that we have published a comment posted at 2:07 am purporting to be from Bill Thompson. An IP address trace indicates the comment did not come from where Mr Thompson is based but rather was from a Sydney based server and someone using an "assumed identity". The individual using the "assumed identity" is welcome to continue submitting comment for publication under their own identity or to contact Margo and negotiate an appropriate nom de plume in accordance with the published Webdiary ethics and discussion guidelines.

Readers may be interested to know that the Bill Thompson who is author of the article was interviewed on the BBC World Service last night. The issues he discussed in the interview where similar to those canvassed in this BBC News UK Edition article Whose net is it anyway? Also see US rejects changes to net control.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Craig Rowley. Very interesting article, line of argument, and political implications. Before I reply, I need to read it again. I would like to do so outside lying in the sun. Does Webdiary have a "Print Format" type button/icon? I tried to print out from my browser and the print and images from this pages' right-hand column was superimposed on the article.

Sorry for my uncharacteristic "blonde" moment.

Terrence Ed. Noelene, Sorry no print button. You can copy and paste into word or similar, then print.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

This post is very topical for me. I am doing a Graduate Diploma in Internet Studies (online at Curtin University W.A) and parts of my course cover internet governance/government. I recently discussed the issue of possible totalitarian control of the internet in depth with some programmers and network engineers.

A response, which I included in an essay, was: “A network can always be configured so that it is governable. However, the internet in its present form was not designed, but is an emergent result of technologies intended to promote free communication. It is fundamentally an anarchic system. For the average user, rules can apply. As in society at large, rules can only go as far as people will consent to obey them. Give trained people a modem and place unreasonable restrictions on them and you could be asking for trouble. If you understand the protocols, you can troubleshoot, and you can also make trouble. Even if you were to seal off the entire internet from us we could create our own. Then, since we could use our own space as we pleased, by definition the internet is not governable in the totalitarian sense.”

These guys say they can create their own network using the internet's network, that they can make it so that less technical users can have access to the (hypothetical) alternative network and so on. There are many techniques, some easy and some quite sophisticated. They say that to stop them, and hundreds of thousands of others like them, the whole material structure of the internet would have to be changed; and that such changes would render the internet totally inefficient for business communications hence is highly unlikely to occur.

So I doubt dystopian scenarios. By virtue of its structure the internet remains, and I believe will remain, a medium of "distributed responsibility, disintermediation and peer review", despite corporate (private and government) attempts to make it otherwise.

It is going to be interesting to watch what Murdoch tries to do with the internet now that he has finally realised something is happening here. Murdoch is that bloke who said that invading Iraq would make oil $20 a barrel, isn't he? ;)

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

U.S. Principles on the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System

The United States Government intends to preserve the security and stability of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System (DNS). Given the Internet's importance to the world’s economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the Internet remain stable and secure. As such, the United States is committed to taking no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and will therefore maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file.

The U.S. controls the root servers, and is not about to give them up with out one hell of a fight

"In a worrying U-turn, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) has made it clear it intends to retain control of the internet's root servers indefinitely. It was due to relinquish that control in September 2006, when its contract with overseeing body ICANN ended."

And it may just have one on its hands thanks to the UK's proposal on Wednesday night. The Yanks were far from happy:

"The US was scathing about the proposals, within minutes telling delegates that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that would prevent it from having overall control of the internet."

Now they may like to think they have control over the internet,and ICANN is the DNS tech manager, but they're fooling themselves if they think (indeed anyone thinks) they have control over the content of the internet and/or the vast legion of humanity who dont give a rat's arse about this so called "spirit" of the net. Bill Thompson's babble about access to porn is a laugh, and makes me wonder just what Murdoch will do when he's told (as I'm sure he has been) that porn sites are THE most income generating content on the net. Though given the amount of pure shit he publishes now under the guise of news this may well be a viable commercial venture for Rupe.

The ludicrous idea that Murdoch could buy the internet is too stupid for words, as is the idea of a forum of individuals to govern the net, all properly identified and registered! As for putting the UN in charge, yeah right, like I want the Chinese the Iranian, or the Cuban Governments to have input into what we can and can't see on here legitimately.

These 'ordinary users' that Thompson talks about, and this idea of another 5 billion users 'rights', the whole claptrap about the net becoming a "heavily-censored, highly inefficient and privately run data network" are bullshit. As is the whole of his article IMHO.

Oh and Jack, forget anonymiser, try TOR, it's FREE and doesn't use proxies to diguise your origins. Skype is good only for broadband, Yahoo messenger has the same system now for any connection, there's still IRC, and as fast as they shut the peer to peer networks new patches are built and new servers appear.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Terrence, blogger Om Malik must have heard us.

Now we have a confluence of content and transmission on Google's part. Will it be joined by process as well?

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

I'm certainly not purporting to be Bill Thompson the author. I thought that would have been obvious from my comment. Unless it is considered normal practice for the author to attack their own article in such a mean manner ("The writer has no idea").

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

In the Telstra thread I originally wrote in the context of discussion of a corporate takeover of Telstra Broadband

... whoever gets the broadband will want to eventually control the content. It's not science fiction or conspiracy theory - the capacity is already there. We accept that rationale without even thinking about it when we buy a piece of print media.

For the majority of Internet users this will be reality since they would not be tech savvy enough to set up a workaround and they will be using IE.

So your search engine would be a PBL/Murdoch creature which we might christen Viral which will take you to pre-selected sites. Viral would be similar to what currently happens when a malware application takes over your browser. It will direct you to sites it wants you to go to with advertising and content it chooses. And it will not work with open-source browsers like Firefox or an open-source OS like Linux.

I would add to this the sort of OS control that Microsoft seems to be moving towards. That is, instead of installing your OS and Microsoft applications such as the Office suite from a CD you will do so from the server. This decreases the ability of pirates to crack the Windows OS password and code, but it also permits Microsoft to be able to override any security settings and in effect to "spy" on your computer.

This is the type of control of marketing potential and potential influence which drives people like Murdoch to belatedly want to get seriously involved in the broadband market though as Pam Rosengren has said the Internet is beyond the control of either government or private corporate sources.

At least it is for the tech-savvy but most users do not fall into this bracket.

Two factors need to be considered in examining the Internet-process and content.

Internet protocols (the process) are managed at the moment by the WC3 consortium which also supports the principle of open source development and the protocols on scripting are almost universally supported by web developers.

SourceForge is the largest repository for these and other open-source codes, and these codes are available to all Web users to download. These codes form the basis for open-source developments such as the Unix OS family, Mozilla (Firefox and Thunderbird), SVG-based applications and a variety of Wiki-type applications.

In addition many independent developers and even software companies produce a variety of freeware and shareware applications. Some of these developers make their code available in the interests of testing and development and it could be argued that in doing so they and the open-source developers create virtual networks of open source users who share applications creation files, and increasingly media itself, freely under a Creative Commons licence.

A Creative Commons licence enables creation and open sharing of derivative work under certain conditions. It is something like the fair use provisions of conventional copyright law.

As Steve Biddle has noted, one-country oversight of DNS and root and hub servers could be a problem if that country moved from mere oversight of the engineering aspects to control of the content. You could in effect block content to individual countries from the root servers which would tend to cripple the capacity of the open-source community to be a viable alternative to proprietary software and to proprietary control of the online media. I believe it would also be possible to configure the display protocols via the servers so that media could be displayed only on certain proprietary browsers, again undercutting open source as an alternative.

Terrence Ed. Dee a while ago I posted about Google doing exactly what you are saying, try scroogle a non malware version.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

In this context, it might be worthy to scan the following fascinating review:

Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus by Donald Alexander Downs
Independent Institute/Cambridge, 295 pp., $28.99
Reviewed by Harvey Mansfield:

'During most of the 20th century, Downs says, threats to free speech came from the right and from outside the universities. But in the late 1960s they began to come from the left, and from within. At that time, Herbert Marcuse set forth his notion of "repressive tolerance," an attack on the liberal free speech doctrine which claimed that, while pretending to tolerate free speech, liberals actually repressed it. This was because liberals frowned on radicals like Marcuse.

Real dissent would have to challenge the whole of liberalism; in fact, the only true dissent is challenging liberalism. Conformist speech defending liberalism is worthless; in fact, so worthless that it can safely be repressed. No, safety demands that it be repressed, and in making a demand, safety is transformed into morality. Morality requires repressing liberalism. Downs calls this "progressive censorship," and says it is just as detrimental to free universities as traditional censorship from the right.' The Cost of Free Speech

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Another fascinating exchange: Jay Rosen, Dan Gillmor, Jeff Jarvis with many others provide a rather dynamic platform for creative and robust debate about the development of news organisation. Another aspect of the debate touches on the key issues in the relationship between journalists and bloggers.

The world has really, really changed and will keep changing and we in mainstream media may not like it but it’s a fact and we have to embrace it or we will die: And when will there be a museum of blogging?
Some Bloggers Meet the Bosses From Big Media

What capacity for product development do news organizations show? Zip. How are they on nurturing innovation? Terrible. Is there an entreprenurial spirit in newsrooms? No. Do smart young people ever come in and overturn everything? Never...

But how reliable was the reporting, media execs asked. Who were their sources? How about if one of the citizen reporters had it in for one of the Republicans? I didn’t add my two cents on that point at the meeting. Here it is now: As a reader, I’m happy to look at that citizens’ reporting. It’s additive. There was nothing. Now there’s something. True, the anonymous reporters are not accountable for their work. So I wouldn’t cite it, journalistically, as evidence that a certain Republican voted one way or another.

Relationships between and among bloggers and journalism

What's the role of bloggers as reporters? Which reporting can we trust?

Out-of-it captains of industry Not what it seems

Elsewhere: We really shouldn't believe everything in the papers. But we do If it's in the news, it must be true! (Just a reminder go to Bugmenot.com if you're prompted for a user name and password)

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Should newspapers be owned by public companies?

Some quotes from David Folkenflik's report (audio; no transcript) on Tribune's problems:

John Carroll, former Los Angeles Times editor: "I have to say the job satisfaction and the wear and tear on the soul surrounded these issues of resources and constant cost-cutting. The Los Angeles Times is still very strong journalistically, but one wonders how long it can stay strong."

Scott Smith, Tribune Publishing COO: "We do a lot of market research and very few readers will tell you they want more news. What we need to do is give them the news and entertainment information and other categories, including advertising, that they value in their lives."

Michael Waller, former Baltimore Sun publisher: "In many of these operations that the Tribune's got, the fat is gone. Every time you cut now, you're cutting something serious."

Howard Schneider, former Newsday editor: "Is it compatible for newspapers to be owned by public companies given the pressure on public companies to keep their stock prices up?"

Doug Arthur, Morgan Stanley media analyst: "If they don't show better [stock price] numbers, the company could get taken out by somebody. And then there could be a lot of carnage."

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times columnist: "This is a newspaper that literally makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year free and clear, so it's not a problem of -- hey, we're losing money."

This is an audio link: [ NPR.org ] Editor: Should newspapers be owned by public companies?

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

(Yet again)
The thanks of this writer go to Dee Bayliss, for translating some of the esoterica in this thread for at least one virtual illiterate as per the subject and certain subtle distinctions as per function and (ab)use. Also other serious thread contributors.

Am not good at this stuff but what I do understand curls my toes. The scales have belatedly fallen away as to the implications of an intensity of interest from certain "usual suspects". The mere fact of their presence is enough to raise the hairs on the back of the neck of a rational person.

Back to the thread!

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

The News Ltd bogeyman argument is getting thin and stale. Australia has enough diversity of media to get alternative viewpoints across. If you take the two taxpayer funded broadcasters it can be argued that the media tilts towards small left liberal politics than it does toward right wing politics, people are smart enough to have voting patterns irrespective of the media.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Oscar to be fair we have to recognise that Patrick Walters' piece - your "like this" link - is located in the Weekend Inquirer section of The Weekend Australian and most readers recognise material in this section as opinions not reports.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Too many press articles read like blogs these days. Newspapers need to maintain a clear line between opinion and reportage, and leave concoctions like this to the bloggers.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Printing Articles.

To print-out only selected text of any article. Ensure the printer is turned on.

Make sure 'print selected text' in the printer appelett is marked before activating the print button.

Then simply hi-light the required text using the mouse, next press Ctrl and P together, this activates the printer and the hi-lighted text will be printed from a temporary file created in windows.

Note: no graphics are copied with this method.

Do not use Ctrl-A as everything is hi-lighted and everything hi-lighted is printed.

To copy graphics with the text, use MSWord 2000 or higher.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Greg Hynes, did you read the article or just the introductory paragraphs before tapping out that "thin and stale" comment as one in a series of critiques of Webdiary material last night? Seriously Greg, did you notice that this was not an article about media diversity but rather it was one about "net governance"?

Of course if you didn't read the article (or even its full title) that's ok Greg. After all it's your perogative and there is no "rule" here that people "should" be informed before voicing an opinion.

Though I am interested in whether you do you have any thoughts on the "democratic deficit" discussed in the article.

Bill Thomspon describes in the article a democratic deficit that, "leaves the future development of the network open to capture by two very powerful interests – private corporations and national governments – to the exclusion of civil society". What's your take on this Greg? Do you see a balance? Do you see an imbalance but think it that is nothing to worry about? Would you seek more control over the net by government or by private corporations, or would you seek more peer accountability and dispersed power?

I'm interested in your view on these issues Greg (and also that of any other reader who may share Greg's position on the right of the right of the political spectrum) because I'd rather be participating in the conversation about net governance with people coming from all angles - whether they're into small left liberal politics or right wing politics or whatever position on the spectrum - than one where we fall into a groupthink trap and learn nothing.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

The SMH picks up an interesting article about Wikipedia from The Guardian today: Power to the people.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Craig Rowley, I must admit that I did read the article fully, I just saw a vague theme in the article referring to Murdoch on whom a mountain of articles have been written mostly criticising his company. Murdoch's attempt to control the blogsphere is close to impossible and very much against the factors behind the blog phenomenon, it would or could fall flat and so would his investment in that. In Australia, the influence of internet media is overblown, many Aussies do get their news from the traditional TV media.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota, sees a "grave threat" to the Internet. He believes an organisation is intent on taking it over. The Bush administration must Protect the net from UN menace, says the Senator, warning that if governance functions were handed to bureaucrats from oppressive nations, the internet would become "an instrument of censorship and political suppression".

He must be worried too about the outline for future net governance set out by the EU. They want a new co-operative model built on the existing ICANN organisation, but established under international law rather than US law.

In fact, it has started looking like it's the US vs most of the world. Today, in an historically unusual decision, the company running all .uk Internet domains, Nominet, has voted for an Argentinian solution to the current crisis over Internet ownership.

The Argentinians proposal would see things continue pretty much as they are, but with the creation of a worldwide forum in which governments, private sector, civil society and international organisations would all play a part.

I haven't heard what Senator Norm Coleman makes of that. Since it involves dispersal of power I imagine he would see a "grave threat" in this model as well.

re: Paradise lost? Not if we take a new approach to net governa

Read the letter that won the internet governance battle, Condoleezza Rice's missive to the EU has been posted by Kieren McCarthy on The Register.

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