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ITU: Internet Governance or Just Governing the Internet?

From Moment to Movement: A Declaration of Internet Freedom

Health Reform Upheld by Supreme Court - Time to Get Back to Work

Featured on Policy Beta

July 19 - Washington, DC - Justin Brookman will be on a panel entitled "Anonymization and De-identification: Technical and Legal Considerations."

July 25 - Boston, MA - Deven McGraw will participate on a panel on "Best Practices in Medical Device Security and Privacy."

July 27 - Las Vegas, NV - Kevin Bankston will participate in a panel entitled "Should the Wall of Sheep Be Illegal? A Debate Over Whether and How Open WiFi Sniffing Should Be Regulated" at Defcon"


As concerns rise over the possibility that the International Telecommunication Union will seek to exercise control over Internet policy, CDT examines an often overlooked question: "What is Internet governance?" Meanwhile, we have joined other Internet activists in drafting a Declaration of Internet Freedom. And with the Supreme Court's upholding of the Affordable Care Act, we are ramping up our work to address the privacy issues raised by a key element of the law that was not challenged in the Court: health insurance exchanges.

ITU: Internet Governance or Just Governing the Internet?

As debate widens about the ITU's World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), a point of contention is whether the ITU will claim authority over aspects of "Internet governance" In part, the debate turns on what one means by "Internet governance" a frequently used but often undefined term.

For some, "Internet governance" is synonymous with the work of ICANN, which manages the domain name system. Under this view, the ITU would address "Internet governance" only if it sought control over the addressing system, and, so far, this has not been raised directly.

However, for CDT and many others, the scope of Internet governance is much broader. As we see it, Internet governance includes the development and implementation of any policies that affect the Internet's functionality, evolution, and use at any layer of the network. This includes not only the assigning of domain names and IP addresses but also activities that range from developing technical protocols, to regulating infrastructure, to crafting policies for online content.

One concern we have about the ITU is that it is a body that heavily favors governments and is in many ways opaque and closed to civil society, technologists, and others with a strong stake in the Internet's future. Accordingly, CDT has joined civil society organizations from around the world in demanding better access to WCIT documents and arguing for civil society to have a voice in the debate over the ITU's role.

From Moment to Movement: A Declaration of Internet Freedom

Last month, in a keynote speech at the Personal Democracy Forum, CDT's Executive Director Leslie Harris argued that the powerful moment when the Internet rose up to stop the SOPA/PIPA bills could and should be catalyzed into a broader, lasting political movement for Internet freedom. In recent weeks, many of the groups and individuals that helped stop SOPA/PIPA came together online to discuss, debate, and ultimately agree upon a draft set of basic principles that could serve as a compass for the emerging net freedom movement.

The Declaration of Internet Freedom includes five basic principles:

  • Expression: Don't censor the Internet.
  • Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
  • Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
  • Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don't block new technologies, and don't punish innovators for their users' actions.
  • Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone's ability to control how their data and devices are used.

As CDT's Kevin Bankston explains, these principles aren't meant to be the last word on what Internet freedom is or should be, for us or for anyone else. Instead, given the participatory nature of the Internet, we and the other signers are hoping that the principles will jumpstart a much broader conversation with the online public, involving feedback and refinement from the massive community of Internet users

Health Reform Upheld by Supreme Court - Time to Get Back to Work

With the Supreme Court's upholding of President Obama's health care law, it's now time to return to the work of implementing the law. One key task is for the states and the federal government to work together to establish web-based health insurance exchanges, which will allow individuals and businesses to find and compare health plans and apply for any federal or state subsidies. The exchanges, which are supposed to be up and running by 2014, will collect sensitive health and financial data, so their design must include strong privacy protections.

Even before it adopted the Affordable Care Act, Congress sought to improve the privacy and security protections for personal health data. CDT has offered extensive comments on the regulations proposed so far, and we have called on the Administration to finalize all the regulations needed to implement the new protections.

As ACTA Tanks in Europe, USTR Announces Potentially Important Shift for TPP Talks

The EU Parliament's overwhelming rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) should be a wake-up call for trade negotiators worldwide: Intellectual property trade agreements are going nowhere unless they provide better balance between the various interests at stake in copyright policy. The U.S. Trade Representative, may take a step in that direction at the upcoming negotiating round for the the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, by proposing that TPP include language affirmatively embracing copyright limitations and exceptions. That would be a welcome and potentially significant shift-though it is hard to tell for sure, since the negotiations take place behind closed doors and we know what the USTR's actual language looks like.

Global Internet Policy Weekly

The latest issue of CDT's weekly list of Internet policy highlights from around the world includes items on copyright, intermediaries, and free expression. An RSS feed is available.

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