Government Technology Featured Article
January 24, 2013
'No One Owns the Internet'
By Jacqueline Lee, Contributing Writer
To help members of the 113th Congress become more informed about Internet policy, the Internet Innovation (News - Alert) Alliance (IIA) has released a 2013 Broadband Guide aimed specifically at America’s current lawmakers. One of the guide’s biggest assertions? “No one owns the Internet.”
The IIA’s first argument is that most Internet physical infrastructure is privately owned, not publicly owned. As the report points out, a great deal of Internet traffic goes over the existing networks of companies like Verizon (News - Alert), AT&T and Comcast. Long-haul carriers manage intercity as well as international Internet traffic on their existing infrastructure.
“The Internet is the network of all the other computer networks around the world that voluntarily connect to each other,” says the guide. “The vast majority of these networks are privately-owned, maintained and operated by organizations as big as Wal-Mart, as popular as Google (News - Alert), as prestigious as Harvard University or as small as an individual blogger.
“No single ruler, body or government official is ‘in charge’ of the Internet.”
Second, the IIA points out that many private sector entities keep the Internet free and open. The guide mentions the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Society. All of these groups consist of volunteer experts who keep the Internet running smoothly and effectively.
Governments have to tackle the bigger questions of free speech, commercial rules and privacy regulations. While the guide doesn’t comment on these issues, it encourages the government to take steps to keep investment opportunities as open as possible.
The guide suggests that lawmakers get rid of unnecessary regulations “built for a bygone analog monopoly provider era.” The IIA also says that lawmakers should maintain their “light touch” regulations on IP-based technologies and fiber. In addition, lawmakers need to be faster to approve secondary market spectrum sales so that spectrum is available for broadband providers.
“The future of lightning-fast, mobile communications depends on migrating America's communications networks away from outdated legacy phone line networks and toward IP-based infrastructure,” said IIA founding co-chairman Bruce Mehlman. Mehlman served as assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy under President George W. Bush.
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Edited by Rich Steeves
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