Free Speech or Public Interest Regulation: Framing the debate on Internet Governance

December 14, 2012 | Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy

The internet governance caravan has merrily travelled from Baku to Dubai this week. However, the key participants may as well not be talking about the same thing! The Dubai Conference about the revision of International Telecommunications Regulations 1988 is characterized by the New York Times as a threat to ICANN by introducing national control over web addresses and numbering. The Times argues that national control will result in a fragmented internet and more political control (read as ‘censorship’) over this medium. Parminder Singh argues that the Dubai meet is primarily a contest between free expression / free market advocates and those who support public interest regulation. It is not clear whether the conjunction of free market advocates and free speech advocates is a necessary or an opportunistic one. Further, does public interest regulation have to be sited at the level of a nation state or can this be international/transnational in character. The persistent inability to forge a common framework to address internet governance issues in the last decade and a half suggests that like climate change more international conferences are unlikely to yield significant rewards.

Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Managing Trustee

View profile