ISOC warns about threats to the Net

ISOC warns about threats to the Net

The Internet’s potential for promoting expression and empowering citizens is under threat from corporate and government policies that clash with the medium’s long-standing culture of openness, some leading Internet thinkers warned.

At the annual Internet Society conference this week in Arlington, the engineers who built the Internet and many of the policymakers who follow its development urged caution as governments try to exert control and businesses look to maximize profits.

“We’re at a turning point in the evolution of the Internet,” said William J. Drake, a fellow at the University of Maryland. A wrong turn means “robbing it of its real democratic potential.”

Vint Cerf, co-developer of the Internet’s basic communications protocols, worries that big, traditional businesses could gain unprecedented control through manipulating the high-speed services that are delivered over cable and phone networks.

Companies are inhibiting innovation, Cerf said, by letting users receive information faster than they can send it.

“That leads to a lot of peculiar effects,” he said. Two people “could each receive high-quality video but can’t send it. They can’t have high-quality videoconferencing.” [ more…]