Who should run the internet? Internet governance is under attack; it may have to mend its ways to survive

Posted in: Governance at 30/09/2011 18:48

Netheads build, run and protect the internet. They often profit from it too. More than 2,000 of them from more than 100 countries descended on Nairobi this week for the latest Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a conference organised under United Nations auspices. The ponderous official theme was the internet "as a catalyst for change", with a lot of nodding to WikiLeaks and the Arab spring. The reality outside the conference hall, the UN headquarters in the Kenyan capital, was more striking. Kenyans nowadays often go online on their mobile phones. Surfing the web is getting faster and cheaper by the day. The internet is no longer a geeks' affair in the rich world, but woven into the fabric of business and life even in the poor one.

The IGF is not a typical UN meeting with a carefully staged agenda and much diplomatic protocol. All participants had the same right to take the floor. Government suits had to listen patiently to the complaints of internet activists. And the end of the shindig was not marked by a finely tuned communiqué, but by a workshop dedicated to what the organisers should do better.

To read this report in The Economist in full, see:
www.economist.com/node/21530955

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