Document Type : Articles
School of Computing & Technology University of East London
Controlling the Internet has for a long time been the privilege of academics in the USA. However, with the evolution of the Internet as the world communication medium of the 21st century and the world-wide-web providing the infrastructure for business and public services in the digital era, the stakes have risen dramatically. The value of the Internet is nowadays considered extremely important in a number of key areas of public life ranging from business, law, local and central government to international politics. Various proposals as to who should be responsible for controlling or even policing the Internet have been considered and debated upon over the past few years. The issue has been raised at an unprecedented level with governments of the most powerful countries on the planet locked in serious and longstanding diplomatic negotiations as to which of the super powers should be in control. Yet the less powerful and smaller nations have repeatedly called for the establishment of an international organization to guarantee independent control of the Internet. This paper considers the above two proposals and attempts to answer the following questions: a) Do single countries deserve the right of having absolute control and acting as the sole guardian of the ultimate communication medium? b) Would an international organization be the answer? If so, how independent can it be and how much security can it offer to the smaller nations and the individual user? The study of each case is performed on the basis of what criteria would apply in terms of legal framework adopted, transparency of procedures and degree of acceptance of the controlling body on a world wide basis. The ultimate question raised is: can the guardian be trusted and if so how widespread this trust would be? The results of the first internet governance forum meeting in Athens in 2006 and the aims of the second due in Rio de Janeiro in November 2007 are also discussed.