In praise of chaos: The Economist

On October 1st, 2011, The Economist published two articles on the controversy surrounding government's attempts to control the internet.  Using the annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi as a backdrop, the articles note how some governments want to transition away from the current “multi-stakeholder” approach to a more government-controlled internet.  The multi-stakeholder approach describes how the internet is chaotically governed by a hotch-potch of organisations, causing decision-making to be slow and often unpredictable.  The multi-stakeholder's founding fathers believed that more openness would be both more secure and better for innovation.

Until the early 2000s, most governments were happy—at least in Western countries where most internet users lived.  Yet as the internet has become a global medium, attitudes have changed.  Some governments are uncomfortable with the multi-stakeholder approach because they feel that the internet is too important, politically as well as economically, to continue to operate beyond the power of governments.  China and Russia want the United Nations General Assembly to adopt an “International Code of Conduct for Information Security", and India, Brazil and South Africa have called for a “new global body” to control the internet.

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Source: The Economist

The debate has strengthened as a result of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a body set up to manage the internet’s address system.  Governments have long been unhappy with ICANN because it is not sufficiently transparent or accountable.  The tensions came to a head when the ICANN board moved last year to allow many more “generic top-level domains” as the controversial suffixes of web addresses such as .xxx (see article) or .jesus.  The point being, if even ICANN cannot command the respect of its stakeholders, the entire multi-stakeholder model may be in danger.

However, the articles note that for whatever chaos the multi-stakeholder approach causes, "the shambles are a lot better than the alternative—which nearly always in this case means governments bringing the internet under their control."  The internet’s openness fosters two of its great virtues: encouraged innovation and resiliency to censorship.  Governments have a role to play in the internet, but they should not be allowed the final say; creeping state control would suffocate the internet.

The article "In praise of chaos" can be found here.

The article "A plaything of powerful nations" can be found here.

 

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Authors

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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