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The role of the US in mass Internet surveillance has been an influential one. US control over the Internet has grown abusive over the last several years. After reports of NSA surveillance practices, the EU reviews this role. It now calls for a reduction in US power in the form of surveillance reforms.
The EU Proposes Reduced US Internet Control and Surveillance ReformsThe US has been at the center of Internet control for many years. Other governments have played their own roles vis-à-vis their own areas of responsibility. But the ongoing revelations of NSA global mass surveillance have caught the attention of the EU. They are now thinking twice about their previously lax attitude towards the heavy hand of the US in Internet control. The EU has lost faith in the US as a leading power in Internet governance. The European Commission has drafted a policy paper suggesting surveillance reforms through a more evenly allocated governance of the Internet. They are scheduled to formally propose the globalization of Internet authority tomorrow.
The EU policy paper identifies mass surveillance by intelligence agencies as the prime factor in their decision to strongly call for surveillance reforms. They have also lost confidence in the arrangement that the US has long maintained with ICANN. ICANN has authority over Internet issues, including TLD assignment. It is as yet unclear whether ICANN’s role is to change. Transferring control over the Internet to a UN body may be one solution, but the policy paper does not seem to agree. Instead, they seem to prefer global cooperation to police surveillance reforms.
Internet Controls is a Contradiction in Terms
Many have protested Internet controls from the very beginning. The Internet was created as a way to communicate and share freely. Groups supporting the open Internet have therefore fought continuously to keep it a free venue for the sharing of information. Internet controls are needed to make sure that surveillance reforms are carried out. But it must be done in a way that does not violate or contradict the open nature of the World Wide Web. Breaking up the Internet into sections governed by different entities or governments is not the answer, as countries like Brazil have threatened to do.
What the EU is now proposing supports the original ideas behind the open Internet. The policy paper proposes a form of control that stresses accountability and transparency. This will ensure that surveillance reforms are respected without interfering with Internet freedoms. It will work to prevent the abuses that have caused the push for surveillance reforms. For instance, it will prevent the continued NSA mass surveillance activities that have violated Internet freedoms. It will also work to uphold the various laws that are already in place, making the Internet subject to the same rules as its users.
Many abuses of the Internet exist, but changing its nature is not the way to uphold surveillance reforms. The NSA has misused it for their own purposes, as have many other agencies, companies, and individuals. But the inherent openness of the Internet must not be attacked simply because it makes things easier. It is the responsibility of law enforcement to apprehend those in violation of laws and other regulations, including of course the proposed surveillance reforms. And they must work within their own frameworks to get the job done.
Move on to Part II – Independent Protests and Anti Surveillance VPNs