Column: Internet’s foggy future

CareyColumnThe Internet is “under threat from a number of directions.” So concluded a 27-member independent task force of the Council on Foreign Relations. A cover letter dated July 18, 2013, from the task force chairs John D. Negroponte and Samuel J. Palmisano referred to task force recommendations “that the United States and its partners work to build a cyber alliance, make the free flow of information a part of all future trade agreements, and articulate an inclusive and robust vision of Internet governance.”

Negroponte is former Am­bassador to Honduras, Mexico, the Philippines, the U.N. and Iraq and has been deputy national security advisor as well as deputy secretary of state.

Palmisano, in his 39 years with IBM, was chief operating officer, chief executive officer, president and board chairman.

Ominously, the task force concluded that, “There are threats that travel through the Internet and threats to the Internet, since ‘a growing number of actors–state and non-state–use the Internet for conflict, espionage and crime…the open, global Internet is at risk. Nations are reasserting sovereignty and territorializing cyberspace.

“Diplomacy has done little to close the gap between those who support the private sector-led, multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance and those who want a stronger role for the state in cyberspace governance under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union,” a UN specialized agency.

What does the task force propose, specifically?

It “recommends that the Council on Foreign Relations and its members continue to bring the public and private sectors, technologists, and policymakers together to debate these issues, both at home and abroad.”

That is my intention in presenting this column.

Rye should have its own gathering of not only technologists and policymakers but also Internet users in various walks of life. We should exchange ideas on how we feel the Internet is being governed and on how it should be protected against those who would censor, monopolize, dominate or otherwise abuse the Internet. This may be a case where local initiative can shed inertia and show the way. We have the talent in Rye, in abundance.