Internet governance: An online Risorgimento

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” The words, uttered by a Sicilian aristocrat on the eve of Italian unification in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s classic “The Leopard”, neatly sum up the sentiment at NETmundial. The big internet-governance powwow held in São Paulo on April 23rd-24th brought together 1,200-odd participants, including government officials, boffins, representatives of NGOs and business from 97 countries. Most shared a desire to prevent the internet’s break-up. This, many believe, requires an overhaul of the way it is run.A few months ago fragmentation seemed a real threat. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, talked of bypassing internet services based in America. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, came out in favour of a separate European internet. Both were peeved at America’s National Security Agency, which had spied on their e-mail, among other things. Ms Rousseff convened NETmundial last September in response to these revelations. In her welcome speech she deplored mass surveillance.

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