Contemplation of the ITU Dubai Meeting and the Future of the Internet


Throughout the world, a leading subject of technology news has been about the recent ITU meetings in Dubai.  Throughout the world, a vast array of concepts have been affiliated with this meeting.  Purposes of national policy, or that of economic benefit.  Perhaps for the first time, the world has convened to discuss how policy may be orchestrated on this global network of communications, as this opportunity certainly was not available upon the inception of the internet; a fact many may suggest awarded the technology the basic capability for use, development and the ubiquity it has enjoyed now for more than 20 years.  It is indeed debatable, that if the leaders of our world were forced to convene to discuss whether or not a concept like internet, should be allowed to exist – the probability it would exist is questionable at best, let alone how and what this revolutionary technology would have been allowed to do, deliver and communicate, within any form of governance structure.

Therein; a reasonable guess, is that these battles hard fought, won, lost and continuing – between the founders of the internet, the geeks, the computer dudes – and the lawyers, military and commercial / banking interests; a mine-field of emerging importance and issues.

On one side, we have America.  A founder of the internet, a patent territory of Intellectual Property Law, a Military Force – with significant investments into Internet and a far-reaching Venture Capital Association, Media and Computer Technology Empire – collectively manufacturing some of the largest Internet portals in the world, collecting data about people, facilitating use and development of internet in no small measure.

On the other, it looks as though we have the United Nations, A United International front of organisations all committed to joint works, collective agreements, Human Rights and international policy, throughout a world of disparate languages, peoples and interests.

The UN is the Collective Force, responsible for revolutionary agreements, such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first adopted on the 10th of December 1948, and others such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989/90 developing what is now the basis for many legal policy precedent surrounding family law, refugee and war-crimes law and treaty, often also created and adopted via the United Nations.   Although the united nations has provided little contribution in itself, toward the evolution of Internet and Information Communications Technologies, it is certainly a forum of high-esteem internationally, where considerations made are taken seriously overall.

Therein; reality starts to bite upon the very nature, of this highly complex area of subject matter expertise, conflicts of interest, economic development and policy and indeed, factors involved in global stability and what is or is not allowed in terms of vigorous negotiations between states and/or other parties including but not exclusive to, acts of war.

In simple terms, much of the worlds communications infrastructure is in the hands of the American Forces, it’s allies and interests.  This concept goes far beyond the simple aspect of infrastructure itself, but also into commercial models, businesses, business models, consumer brands and all things similar.  In terms of international competition, there is some but not alot;  Russia, for example, developed an alternative to GPS called GLONASS, now integrated into a variety of devices, although not internet based – highlighting the desire to reduce dependance on the US for all forms of Communications Technology, if and as the needs may need in future, not just for russia – but for all.

The scope is enormous.  It is important to remember, that in the territory of Television, America has one version – used in some countries, whilst the world moreover – as different standards, which leads to an opportunity of co-habitation and content licensing overall.

Different Countries have different principles of law and governance.  Whilst some might complain that we’re all not just the same, it is commonly understood that the lessons of one region, can often transpire opportunities for other regions struggling with issues, within a differentiated structure of governance and law.  The spirit of acceptance and collaboration between the many great nations, not only unifies us as a species, but also enhances our opportunities and diminishes threats, that would otherwise exist if we were all depending upon the same set of principles, values, system of law or indeed the many other variables of sociology that exist throughout the globe.  In terms of internet, this is perhaps the greatest challenge the global community has ever faced.  The system of internet relay’s upon a common set of standards and principles, which are in-turn translated into technology. although seeking an ideal, whether realistic or otherwise; the question becomes, who has the best understanding to forge this system of perfection, and should it be left to the people, the state or indeed some form of global representative group.  In todays age, it appears this means of control, a questionable aspect in itself, is managed more broadly by america.  It is simple to see where the benefit lies to america, and any close allies in maintaining the status quo, or so it may seem – to the uninitiated.

One of the many remarkable factors of EU Technology policy, underpinning a great-deal of the belief structure both of the ITU and the UN, is that of its open-source policies.  If developers wish their great idea to be used by government throughout the EU, portions of it must be open-source.  This is a security measure, more than anything else – however it is important to note, the difficulties a number of companies from the US have had with these policies overall.  Indeed it may been considered, that technology development has, at times, been stymied by the policies held to account, by europeans.  Whilst US companies may complain, it is simply not the case that a great deal of their software, web-business infrastructure is made available on open-source terms.  Indeed, to example the difficulties many policing organisations throughout the world have had significant difficulty in tracking down those behaving illegally, due to the very difficult nature of acquiring appropriate information, as required by local law and law-enforcement agencies, on individuals breaching law through the use of online environments, such as facebook, myspace and others.  difficulties have been discussed with me, to be more of a local law-enforcement nature, such as suggestions that youth had a suicide pact, or online bullying – aspects in Australia, that were not of national significance overall.  However Australia,  as a nation has enjoyed a highly communicable and trusted relationship with the US, which although explaining difficulties therein; may also highlight issues for other regions and their people, if the nature of the relationship was not equally or virtuously positive overall.

There is little disputing the fact that USA, through its own heritage and the continuation of that heritage, has a range of interests, beliefs, of great importance on a national and international stage.  However reasonably, the question could be asked – does that mean we, as a global community, should be made dependant upon the interests of this region, it’s policies and its procedures.   In western countries this question is less complicated, than those in other regions, with differentiated languages and beliefs.  The mistakes of the crusades and/or the development of the british commonwealth may well be consequential in the coming debate, overtime.

Underlying all of this, there are some fundamental developments to the internet, which spawns the opportunity for discussion.  The Internet works using a numbering system, called “IP” or “Internet Protocol”, which has proliferated throughout the globe under an auspice entitled “V4”.  IPv4 provides the numbers, which in digital terms relate to whether or not the participant or device, is connected to the network.  Founders of the internet, have discussed openly, that it was in-fact a lab-experiment, gone global.  That the design of this fundamental pillar for internet, was not ready for global uptake.  Vint Cerf, also goes on-to discuss how he gained an opportunity to work with an American Military organisation to develop a more appropriate platform for their use, and through that work a new model emerged, IPv6.

There are a number of critical differences between the two standards.  The first, is the number of numbers available.  The total number, of numbers (called the “ip address pool”) for IPv4 is limited, and running out.  The number of available, IPv4 numbers when no-longer available – will result in an inability to issue new numbers for purposes such as secure communications, or indeed access.  IPv6, has by a significant multiple – more numbers. There are theoretically so many numbers, that every unique object throughout the world could be provided a unique number – an identifier, and there would still be more left-over, for several generations.

The second, and perhaps more important aspect – is the inclusion of security, into the numbering system and the information transport system it provides.

Traditionally, certificates were required from an authorised 3rd party, who held “the master key”.  For obvious reasons, most of the companies holding those “master keys” were US Based.   Although methods are available to use and/or generate alternative keys, consumer browsers would alert users, that the website was not secure, creating upset and difficulty for wide-spread commercial use.  In IPv6, a system called “DNSSEC” is included.  DNS SEC, in-turn, reduces the dependancy upon these certificate providers – and in-turn, provides an opportunity for broader commercial engagement over what is being labelled, a “digital economy”.

And this; i believe, is where the problem is greatest – this concept, of a digital economy.  Technology is never a problem, it is the utility of technology where problems emerge.

As more and more people, use digital technology as a key constituant to trade, and economic participation – security becomes a necessary aspect overall.  The alternative, would be like an open-door policy to your local banking institution, and the vaults in which they hold their customers assets.

Whereas one constituant of the consideration, relates to how the licensing and terms of use apply to fundamental aspects of internet technology; the other, is pursuant to the laws in which its users are most responsible.  Is it more important that users do not breach US law, or are not capable of representing their disputes to a US law Court; or, is it whether such a would-be defendant, is able to be held accountable to local law.  Then what about travellers?

Todays internet provides little protection for the rights of individuals throughout the world.  Equally, most people are able to exploit otherwise enforced law, such as copyright law, without regard.  Institutional business models and profits have even emerged through the commercial exploitation of these factors, for which few if any are held accountable overall.   In many of the submissions and discussions relating to this, and related matters the factor of whether or not the internet is “free” emerges.  upon examination, it would be fair to consider what in america, if anything is actually “Free”, and as such – how do we pay for these things, and what rights do we have as consumers, whether locally or abroad.

Arguably, after the dot-com crash, the fight began – in the information age, knowledge is power and control of communications transfer and storage, is of immense power.  We wait to see how this journey continues.

It is our belief, that an emergence of “information banking” will occur; but only through the discussion, of how the knowledge capital of sovereign states and its people, can at times be of value to GDP.  It seems most likely, however, that a company like google will be capable of knowing about these types of changes, prior to agreement – enabling it to vend products, that in-themselves, may void the opportunity of united, democratic inter-governmental process; prior to the lifecycle process needed to forge the most opportune path, not otherwise defined within America.