My blog’s title today was the first thing I heard in today’s seminar. This week, we had a guest speaker with us, Scott Bradner. He is a senior figure in the area of Internet governance, serving as the secretary to the Internet Society. Guess what we talked to him about? Internet governance! The first thing Bradner said about Internet governance was: “there isn’t any”.
According to Bradner, there is no Internet governance and it is extremely unlikely that there ever will be any Internet governance. This is almost strange to think about, in a world where almost everything we do is controlled (in some way), but the government. The Internet is a form of information that bypasses government controls and it is almost impossible for the government to regulate everything we do on the web. I enjoyed the comparison of the Internet to a bumble bee. Scientists, according to our speaker, said bumble bees could not fly. People also said the Internet “couldn’t fly”. And guess what happened with bumble bees (and the Internet)? Both flew off, showing people they were wrong.
Bradner also talked about the Communications Decency Act, when the congress of the United States created this act to protect under 18’s on the Internet. He, and many others, fought against it, because this was merely impossible. The supreme court ended up hearing them – even though they agreed that under 18’s had to be protected, this was obviously not the most efficient way to do it. Many websites all over the world won’t be subject to the US.
We also went on to discuss some cases in which countries have (or have tried) to regulate the Internet. China, for example has a firewall between the Chinese internet and the rest of the world. But, according to Bradner, this did not stop communication between the Chinese population. My home country, Brazil, also tried to implement some type of governance on the Internet. The way I see this in my daily life in Brazil, is through Netflix, as Netflix in Brazil does not show us all the TV series and movies I can see here in the US, but Bradner also talked about the fact that data localization was proposed by the Brazilian government, but did not pass our parliament.
The most interesting, and rather new, part of today’s discussion, was the regulations in France. I learned that the European Union has very strict regulations, with strict regulations regarding privacy of individuals. One of these regulations is the right to be forgotten. This allows you to go to a service like Google and say that a piece of information about you (even though it is true), is no longer useful or valid. You can then request Google to remove and erase this piece of information. Google has a way of doing this (which is rather expensive), but it does not require the original source to take the piece of information down (something I personally found amusing!). The problem is, France says that if you request your right to be forgotten in France, this should be applied all over the world, they say it is a universal right. This obviously brings about discussions as not every country agrees with such idea.
I’d like to finish off today’s post with a funny remark made today. In the last few minutes of the seminar, we talked about cases like Mark Zuckerberg’s in Harvard and Bill Gates’s in Harvard as well, and our conclusion was: these are great examples of what you get when you break Harvard’s rules!!!