About the government controlling the Internet
// Posted by Tec on 02/21/2014 (11:33 PM)
About the government controlling the Internet by Mauricio Vega
Thanks to Wikileaks and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden we have now definitive prove that the U.S. government, among others, is spying on citizens, organizations, organisms and other governments of all around the globe. This brings into the discussion an old debate between privacy and security. I first would like to address the issue from an American perspective. The U.S. has had this debate within probably since it was founded. On one side, freedom has always been a key pillar in the U.S. mindset but also in its legislation. As, Tocqueville said in his analysis of the American democracy, the type of political liberty lived by in that country had never been seen in Europe. He also claims that it was more than just the constitution, it was a way of living. On the other side we have an arguably equally important value: security. Due to the nature of the independence movement that led to the foundation of the USA, security has always played a mayor role. From the civil war to the Vietnam War, security has always driven foreign and domestic policy. This is why, I think, even though the revelations of the NSA scandal were outrageous, the US population has not had an aggressive or loud enough reaction. Recent polls like the one made by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research (Jaycox, 2014) in January of this year, shows that 63% of Americans disapprove the government spying on them, that means almost 40% agrees with the measure. For a freedom fight population, this is, at least, surprising. I think Americans know that what their government is doing is morally wrong, but the benefits that come with their action i.e. peace of mind, makes it worth it.
From the rest of the world’s perspective, myself included, I think it is becoming very clear how dangerous can be the lack of Internet regulation in an international level. Normally, as consumers, we would be against regulation since it translates in more freedom for the users but we can now begin to realize that this “freedom” comes also with a price. We tend to forget who has the real tools and power to profit from the lack of regulation: the government, especially the American government since most of the Internet’s infrastructure is in their territory and under their supervision. Being classified as potential threats and being spied on by a government, specifically a foreign one, is not a good situation for the population since it can quickly escalate into human rights violations and arbitrary decision-making. That is why I would like to make a proposition (if not a provocation), in order to be debated. I think a general relatively fast solution would be to create a multilateral, international, interdisciplinary organization, conformed by ONGs, OITs, and States that regulates, legislates and holds power over the Internet. I realize it is an ambitious and dangerous endeavor in this anarchic international system, but the situation requires it. President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff has already talked about a similar idea, but nothing has been done. I would like to see what you think about this idea.
Jaycox, M. (2014, January 14). Polls Continue to Show Majority of Americans Against NSA Spying. Washinton, Washinton DC, United States.
Tocqueville, A. d. (2003). Democracy in America. Washington: Penguin Classics.