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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Standards and the Open Internet

From the White House blog May 2: "Over the last year, we have heard from numerous Internet stakeholders regarding their concerns about the future of the Internet.  Most recently we heard from a number of constituencies at a White House meeting that the three of us hosted on Monday as part of our ongoing effort in this domain... We have heard from civil society organizations calling for greater participation of advocacy groups in Internet governance policy to supplement voices representing commercial and technical perspectives. We have also heard from several of the technical bodies that set engineering standards and oversee the day-to-day operations of the Internet.  These groups have stressed that technical decisions regarding the Internet must be made free from political intrusion.  If that separation does not exist, politics may take precedence over technical decisions, leaving Internet users with unreliable technology that does not reflect the best thinking of computer scientists and engineers. Members of the business community have expressed concern that some national governments seek to balkanize the Internet by establishing barriers to the free flow of information under the pretext of protecting cybersecurity, social stability, or local economies.  This is contrary to President Obama's vision of an Internet that is interoperable the world over, and the United States will vigorously oppose such barriers.  Further, these regulatory actions would create a confusing array of “local Internets,” establishing different rules for different places.  Firms may cease to offer services outside the country in which they are based if a variety of domestic regulations makes it too complicated or too costly. For these reasons the United States is actively engaged with our global partners in a variety of international settings and remains committed to working with all Internet stakeholders to defend and strengthen the open, interoperable, and innovative Internet."
This marries well with the European Commissioner's recent comments: "this year we will engage with European standardisation bodies and the industry [wot, no consumers?] to determine the best way forward. For standards that means content providers and operators can get a uniform service offering, avoid duplicate charges, and exploit economies of scale. We also need to preserve openness of access to Internet services: what some call net neutrality."
Neither take full account of the shenanigans now ongoing to curtail net neutrality at the ITU's WCIT negotiations which are (sigh) closed to outsiders in both deed (no multistakeholders) and word (blocked entry to negotiating texts) and therefore fall far short of decent IT standard -setting. Judge them by their deeds, not their words...

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