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Internet Governance and Online Freedom

Erik Huizer | Lecture, 1. day

Freedom should not be taken for granted. Permissionless innovation and a truly multi-stakeholder governance model are the cornerstones of an open and free Internet.

Freedom is not something that comes naturally. It is something one has to fight for, sometimes literally. Online this is no different. The almost unlimited freedom that the Internet seems to offer is under constant threat. We do have to fight to keep the Internet open, accessible and trustworthy.

The current Internet supports what Vint Cerf calls: permissionless Innovation. This innovation is organized in a multitude of ways depending on whether we look at infrastructure, services, devices or apps. The combination of opportunities in each of these allows for almost unlimited innovation freedom.  

Still it is not just positive news on the Internet, with respect to freedom. That very freedom is under multiple threats. Commercial companies threaten it by invading our privacy. Criminals threaten it by stealing identities. Governments threaten it by limiting our access or by using it for spying on us. These threats affect how we (can) use the Internet.  

Such issues need to be taken seriously to preserve the freedom on the Internet. This requires that we re-invent Internet Governance on a global scale. The discussions on the new Internet governance have been accelerated by the Snowden revelations and the decision of the US Government to hand over the IANA contract.  

It is important to be aware of the Internet governance discussions and to be aware of the on-going process in this matter. This requires a broad multi- stakeholder involvement in debates on safety, surveillance, privacy etc. Not issues that are top-of-mind for most people. However, a wrong outcome of those discussions could severely impact our online liberty.      

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