InternetNZ widens net debate

InternetNZ will be asking the government for publicity muscle in mounting at least two public seminars on the developing international internet governance debate.

InternetNZ will be asking the government for publicity muscle in mounting at least two public seminars on the developing international internet governance debate.

The InternetNZ position on such content matters as spam and illegal pornography is probably closely aligned with government’s, says vice-president David Farrar, “so it’s not a matter of influencing [government] but rather of consulting the public and getting them to realise this is not just an academic debate about domain name administration”.

A second important reason is to bring the larger public constituency into the debate, so that a considered position on the questions will not be seen as just the view of InternetNZ or the country’s technically focused internet enthusiasts.

Issues being discussed involve international co-operation on fundamental matters of freedom of information, says Farrar, who also heads InternetNZ’s legal and regulatory committee.

InternetNZ will be approaching Associate IT Minister David Cunliffe over the next few weeks to seek government co-operation, and perhaps the involvement of the minister himself in the public awareness-raising exercise.

Calls for reform of “internet governance” in international arenas such as the United Nations are at an early stage, says InternetNZ international affairs committee head Peter Dengate Thrush, and it is not clear yet whether new parties to the discussion want to discuss governance or management.

Debate has been developing since the World Summit on the Information Society and now appears very energetic, but the issues, Dengate Thrush suggests, are relatively ill-defined.

There is pressure for reform of internet governing body Icann, but this is probably misdirected, he says. The underlying concerns of governments are likely to be more with illegal use of the network and international usage accounting matters.

One evident concern relates to the degree of US government involvement remaining in Icann.

“If the difficulty is the US hand in the Icann glove, then the solution is not to throw away the glove, but to find a way of accommodating more hands in it,” says Dengate Thrush.

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