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The Internet: a case of founders keepers? ... one Indian perspective

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  • Frederick Noronha (FN)
    http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/122112/1/5339 The Internet: a case of `founders keepers? Anand Parthasarathy 14 November 2005 THE WORD cyber space
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 14, 2005
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      http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/122112/1/5339

      The Internet: a case of `founders keepers?
      Anand Parthasarathy

      14 November 2005

      THE WORD "cyber space" was coined long before the Internet was born. In
      fact it is the creation of American novelist William Gibson who used it
      in his novel Neuromancer a good ten years before the World Wide Web
      gradually became a reality.

      At the turn of the century, Gibson, asked to comment on the shape taken
      by his unintended brainchild said perceptively: "The Internet is extra
      national and post geographical. It is happening largely outside the
      jurisdiction of politicians. It is truly one of the strangest things we
      have done as a species. and we have done it inadvertently. If we take
      care of it, it may be a step towards a better world." His instinct was
      right in one important aspect: the relative freedom from political
      control that Internet enjoyed.

      Indeed its origins lay in a network called DARPANet, a creation of the
      U.S. government's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, which was
      initially handed over to a consortium of American academic institutions,
      then grew and grew... to become today's Internet.

      By late 1980s the number of Internet users — and hence addresses —
      became unmanageable without some regulation. The U.S. Department of
      Commerce and the Post and Telecommunications Department established the
      Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which in 1998 became the
      Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private
      corporation that includes a number of stakeholders.

      In recent years, the ICANN has been criticised for being dominated by
      corporate interests in the developed world, who had cornered the
      majority of available addresses. This is one of the reasons, nations
      like India have been early supporters of IPv6 (Internet Protocol
      version six) the next Net avatar which will increase the size of the
      address (which translate into the somethingdotcom or someonedotnet
      name) from 32 bits (which can give at most 4.2 billion different
      addresses) to 128 bits that will boost the possible addresses to almost
      infinity. India has also staked its national claim to an Internet
      identity with its own ".in" suffix earlier this year.

      But many developing nations have been uncomfortable with the implicit
      control that the ICANN, a U.S. creation, exerts on the Internet and have
      been advocating a monitoring role for a truly international agency —
      possibly a U.N. arm like the International Telecommunication Union.

      This was mooted at the first World Summit of the Information Society in
      Geneva, 2003, but was rather unceremoniously swept aside. It will again
      loom at Tunis this week as the single biggest issue on the agenda when
      the second WSIS opens on November 16.

      Preliminary meetings held in September, saw the impasse only harden,
      with the U.S. officially hardening its opposition to changing the
      status quo. Indeed some commentators have called the U.S. posture a
      "Monroe Doctrine for the 21st century."

      "Dollar divide"

      Internet governance -- who owns Internet -- may be a pressing issue for
      many nations, but it may not be more important than other weighty issues
      on the WSIS agenda -- like how to use the fruits of technology to bridge
      the digital divide.

      Here again, critics speak of a `dollar divide' -- the fact that the U.N.
      has an almost empty kitty in its efforts to leverage technology for
      empowering the underprivileged. A Digital Solidarity Fund has been
      mooted to fill this lacuna and the U.N. has so far raised $5.7 million
      from member states. Should IT-related activity by corporations and
      profit makers be taxed to create a corpus for the less advantaged? This
      is just one proposal that will be aired in Tunis.

      The event should see global interest focused on India for one reason at
      least. The country's shrewd harnessing of people's talents and energy to
      carve a name as a premier IT destination is one of the success stories
      of the world's ongoing affair with computers and communication.

      But the challenge to use such an edge to reach out to under-empowered
      rural millions is something that continues to challenge and provoke --
      and there may be lessons to be learnt from other similarly positioned
      developing economies.

      So, as we showcase the success of Kerala's "Akshaya" e-literacy
      programme and Karnataka's "Bhoomi" project to computerise land records;
      as we tout the reach of Andhra Pradesh's "e-Seva" citizen services and
      the spread of wireless-based rural telephony networks, we might do
      worse than listen to planners from Brazil and Egypt, Thailand and South
      Africa, who in their own way have shown that no divide, even a digital
      one, is unbridgeable, if people and governments want to do it.

      Meanwhile they will continue to ask, 'who owns Internet' and recall that
      old school rhyme, "Finders keepers, losers weepers" — except that in the
      case of the World Wide Web, it's the founders rather than finders, who
      are hanging on to control of the modern day wonder they call the
      Internet. Source:The Hindu

      Check APC blogs too:
      ENGLISH http://www.apc.org/english/wsis/blog/index.shtml
      FRENCH http://www.apc.org/francais/wsis/blog/
      SPANISH http://www.apc.org/espanol/wsis/blog/
    • Vickram Crishna
      ... Sometimes history could do with a bit of editing. In this case, correcting as well. While DARPANet was an early user of the first Internet protocols, to
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 14, 2005
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        At 5:27 PM +0530 14/11/05, Frederick Noronha (FN) wrote:
        >http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/122112/1/5339
        >
        >The Internet: a case of `founders keepers?
        >Anand Parthasarathy
        >
        >Indeed its origins lay in a network called DARPANet, a creation of
        >the U.S. government's Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency,
        >which was initially handed over to a consortium of American academic
        >institutions, then grew and grew... to become today's Internet.

        Sometimes history could do with a bit of editing. In this case,
        correcting as well. While DARPANet was an early user of the first
        Internet protocols, to implement them, they drew on help from
        Britain. Even today, the Net would be quite useless as a common
        person's resource if it wasn't for the Web, whose development was
        unmistakably European. I don't have time to give you all the
        references right now, but they are worth googling for. I don't think
        anyone wants to see the Net degenerate into a set of disconnected
        networks, but on the one hand let us remember there are already quite
        a few global networks out there that aren't part of the Net, and on
        the other remember that sharing control with persons from around the
        world need not necessarily mean degeneration.
        --
        Vickram


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