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Internet Governance: Leading by Example

On CircleID Jeremy Malcolm blogged in “Wikileaks and the Gaps in Internet Governance” that “For the Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (IGC), this highlights the need for cross-border Internet governance issues to be made subject to a due process of law, informed by sound political frameworks, including those of human rights.” A reaction, in which a network of the willing is suggested.

The Dutch Waterline. A model for Internet security?

In the 17th century the Republic of the Seven Provinces built a defence line called “De Waterlinie” (the Waterline). The idea consisted of flooding parts of the country in the face of the enemy with bulwarks and other defence works on the land-side. This technique created Fort Holland. It took aeroplanes and modern warfare to conquer Fort Holland in 1940. The 21st century equivalent would be to sever a country from all international connections with the Internet. It needs to be done always, as a country could be under attack any time, without seeing the enemy approaching. Even then a country is not safe, as Stuxnet has taught us and what about enemies from within? So out the window with all computers. Just to be safe?!

Creating a Fort, fill in your country’s name here, does no longer make any sense. We simply can not live without computers and connectivity anymore. We depend on it to work and aid us in our daily business and leisure, wherever it comes from, is processed or delivered in the world. And have become dependant on infrastructure in other countries without being aware of it. Countries that may not have the same values and laws. Countries with whom it will be hard to negotiate Internet values, let alone regulation.

The rule of law as a model?

The alternative to create a worldwide Internet governance following the rule of law from sound democratic values is commendable. Indeed this ought to be the way forward, were it not that the rule of law, as developed in the western world does not apply across the globe. To pursue this is a ticket to Neverland. Endless discussions and stalemates would make sure that real solutions would be postponed indefinitely. E.g., look at the talks on global warming. All sorts of politics would become involved, including the whole Internet system and having controls over it. This is not the route to a solution. Unfortunately, more likely the opposite.

Leading by example as a model?

I believe more in creating a network of the willing. This will consist of public and private partners that coordinate, interact and exchange knowledge and information that will allow pushing back cyber crime originating from their respective countries. If all network partners achieve consent on where an individual network member has a lever to push back crime and governments adjust or create laws that allow for the solutions found, the world will be in a better position to tackle the problems it faces. This way we have rule of law and an important step towards democratic oversight over the Internet in the countries who we expect to have this in place. When the laws and terms of contract are enforced, we push back crime to those places on the globe where there is no rule of law, but often also the somewhat lesser facilities.

Some examples

To give a few examples of levers that could be discussed.

1. A real grip on facts and figures about cyber crime.
2. Enforce what needs to be enforced.
3. Find digital age solutions for transnational information requests and enforcement
4. Adjust or create laws that make the difference.
5. Public - private cooperation.
6. Push back botnets actively.
7. Revoke abused Internet resources
8. Aid developing countries in creating a safer Internet environment.
9. Awareness raising.
10. Etc., etc.

Adding these measures up, leads to the sum that life for the cyber criminal becomes less easy. It becomes harder to access resources, tools become less available and there is more at stake. At this moment there are almost no consequences attached to cyber criminality, only picking up easy money. When there are consequences to pay quite a lot of people involved will move elsewhere.

We have the Internet to win

If we manage to get those parties together that are willing to make a difference, others will latch on and the network will grow. Despite the fact that the much heard remark “no one stands to gain from cyber crime”, is not always true, fact is that no regularly run company wants to be associated with it. Let’s capitalize on that. Who knows, over time the world may change through leading by example. I strongly believe that the Internet educates people and raises their awareness and knowledge. Through these effects the world will develop economically and socially. For this to happen the developed world has to make sure that the Internet is available the way it is, as development takes time. By pushing back the excesses the world buys that time.

By Wout de Natris, Consultant internet governance

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Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet



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