Archive for the ‘Internet Control’ Category

Google, Web Giants

April 24, 2008

Article Extract:

‘The US federal government has requested that Google, Yahoo!, America Online, and Microsoft hand over millions of random search results in preparation for the defense of the 1998 Child Online Protection Act. This act is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, who argues that websites cannot realistically comply with the law and that the law violates freedom of speech.


Yahoo!, America Online, and Microsoft immediately handed over the information the government requested. Google, on the other hand, has refused to hand over the search results in defense of its users’ privacy. A federal court date of February 27th has been set, where Google will attempt to fend off the invasion by the federal government.’

This article is available at:
http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/003193.html

Google, Web Giants

April 19, 2008

A Border-less World?


Earlier the focus was on the politics of Internet control and how geography and governments play a fundamental role in controlling both the Internet and Internet content in different countries under different governmental control. What was established was that governments have the power through coercive forces to control the Internet in their country with complete control remaining with the United States who maintain ‘root authority’.

However, as was outlined later on the World Wide Web is evolving at a high rate. This is not just through a higher degree of people and companies embracing the concept of Web 2.0 but also through the masses looking to further its potential as a means of ‘harnessing collective intelligence’ through new forms of communication and information. After the burst of the ‘dot-com bubble’ we saw a number of elite companies emerge at the forefront of what is known as Web 2.0 and to this day hold tremendous power throughout the Web as strong alliances are formed between companies and Internet users.

These alliances can be seriously underestimated as we enter an Internet age where users worldwide have much more power and influence than ever before at shaping the Web. Companies and businesses now look to attract the masses for user-contribution (‘harnessing collective intelligence’) that adds to the value and ultimate power of the business.

Facebook is a prime example of such a business, whereby a user-base of over 50million, constantly adding content and information to the massive network, adds so much worth to the business that even the biggest companies want involvement. As seen with the tussle between Microsoft and Google for a share in Facebook.

What is clear is that the Internet age we live in at the present is evolving at a high rate as it continues to embrace the Web 2.0 concept. Companies are becoming more capable and influential than ever before at setting up Websites that fall under the Web 2.0 umbrella, allowing sites to emerge and organically flourish through user-participation. As the Internet evolves and changes more and more, through mass user-participation especially as seen in social networking sites, more companies and corporations are able to rise and dominate the Web.

Although Internet control currently belongs to governments, in particular the US government that doesn’t mean to say that a newer more advanced version of the Internet cannot be developed, one that wouldn’t be dependant on governmental control but the Web giants that control the Web and its users. Governments may be able to bully Web giants at present through coercive rule to a certain extent, but that doesn’t mean to say they would have the same power in a ‘Google Age’, whereby Google could act as a gateway for instant communication and information involving a digital platform yet to be realised.

The Politics of Internet Control

February 14, 2008

Article Extract:

‘Since it was developed by Pentagon-funded researchers in the 1960s and 1970s, the decentralized computer network known as the Internet has operated relatively smoothly. A California-based organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), manages the so-called Domain Name System (DNS), which assigns unique Internet names and addresses.


ICANN was created in 1998. Although it is private and includes international members on its board, the U.S. Department of Commerce vetos or approves its decisions.

The issue of American control over ICANN is in the spotlight, as calls for a more representative global body to manage the Internet are getting louder.’

This article is available at:
http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2005-11/2005-11-15-voa39.cfm?
CFID=292446800&CFTOKEN=87031972

The Politics of Internet Control

February 14, 2008

Article Extract:

Most net users probably do not spend a lot of time worrying about who runs the resource they are using, but there is a global battle brewing over that very question.

The internet grew out of US military and academic research, and the US government still has certain measures of control over it.’

This article is available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4436428.stm

The Politics of Internet Control

February 14, 2008

Article Extract:

Though various countries had suggested this already, the EU had previously supported the current system, where control rests with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which works with the U.S. Commerce Department.

“At the end of the day, it’s just the U.S.’s option,” said Sean Carton, director of interactive research and development for Carton Donofrio Partners.’

This article is available at: http://www.physorg.com/news6901.html

The Politics of Internet Control

February 14, 2008

Article Extract:

It is the guardian of the underlying architecture of the net, overseeing allocation of domain names such as .com or .net, and the addressing system that links domain names to the numbers computers understand.

It has always been intended that the net coordinator should eventually be a private organisation, but since it has been in existence Icann has been overseen by the US government.’

This article is available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5388648.stm

The Politics of Internet Control

February 10, 2008

Who Has Control?


The Internet is controlled by what is known as ‘root authority’, which technically speaking is the authority over the naming and numbering system, stored within a single file. This file and ‘root authority’ is the power to control domain names and numbers throughout the Internet and was controlled for ten years by a man named Jon Postel who single-handidly took charge of the naming and numbering system. This root authority forms the spine of the Internet and for users to be able to communicate online each and every computer needs a unique Internet address, which simply looks like a set of numbers. However, the most attention related to ‘root authority’ was focused on ‘domain names’, the worldwide unique name that is associated with an Internet address.

Jon Postel had this authority and to many was seen as the ‘God of the Internet’, however on the 1st January, 1998 a new era of Internet governance was set to begin. The US handed over partial control of ‘root authority’ with the help of the Defense Department, to a company named Network Solutions.

This was a commercial company looking to make money out of the Internet, the complete opposite of the Internet’s founding vision. Postel decided it was time to act and after side-stepping Network Solutions he had ‘root authority’ transferred to his computer and therefore changing which computer was recognised as the root, worldwide. This was a bold statement and one, which made it very clear that the most critical aspects of the naming and numbering authority still remained with the founders of the Internet.

This caused a monumental split of the Internet into two massive networks, with four servers recognised by the US government as root authority, consisting of NASA, Network Solutions, the US military and the Ballistics Research Lab and the rest of the servers by Postel’s computer. However, with the new era of Internet governance in place the US government soon threatened Postel with legal force, where he had no choice but to restore full ‘root authority’ back to the servers under government control. Where ‘root authority’ and ultimately control of the Internet remains to this day.

The Internet started out as a pilot model for self-governing systems that had the capabilities to flourish without any respect to geography or territorial borders. It was designed to allow like-minded users to join virtual communities that governed themselves without regard to top-down coercive structures of territorial governmental systems.

However, as highlighted in this chapter, the importance of geography and borders are second to none and are what allow governments to rule the Net within their own borders, with complete control of the Internet remaining with the US government who maintain ‘root authority’. One issue that can’t be overlooked however, is not just nations having the power to shape the architecture of the Internet in different ways, but that the US, China and Europe are all using their powers of coercion to form different versions of what the Internet should be.

The Politics of Internet Control

February 8, 2008

Photo by RedMonkeyVirus at
www.flickr.com/photos/espofotos/195150939/

The Politics of Internet Control

February 7, 2008

Government and the Web


This form of governmental control as discussed above was particularly necessary in the case of eBay, in order for it to succeed. The phenomenal success eBay has had, has been reliant on letting the market run of its own accord. However, for that to work there must be a system of punishment in place for the small minority who don’t want to play by the rules. The auction system that eBay houses, is dependant on a hidden virtue of government power that is setup to deter those who given the chance would look to ‘break’ the system. This highlights a key factor in the success of the Internet and its companies, which is that the stability needed comes from the country directly beneath it.

Large multinationals won’t be interested in branching out to countries which are unstable no matter how strong their economy is, therefore indicating the importance of government stability. A prime example of this is Russia, the tenth biggest economy worldwide, an economy that eBay and Yahoo have no interest in branching out to because of Russia’s un-stability.
In 2000, Pierre Omidyar’s company eBay had reached its self-execution. A success, that could only have been made possible by the hidden, background virtues of governmental law.

When exploring government involvement in the politics of Internet control, there is no better example of a government controlling the Internet within its borders than China. The Chinese Internet is slowly pulling away from the rest of the world, not just because of linguistic and cultural differences with the western world but because of the governments extraordinary monitoring and filtering system. China does not just indicate an extreme example of control but another example of the Internet becoming bordered by government and geography. It has found a way of surrounding itself with the worlds most sophisticated information barrier acting as a type of membrane that allows the government to block and allow whatever information it wants.

Just as Cisco routers are setup to patrol Chinese borders, American companies like Yahoo and Microsoft run even more sophisticated programs of information control internally. The Chinese government has developed these sophisticated forms of control as it wants to become one of the worlds most advanced networking countries, whilst still maintaining complete control over its information. This type of governmental approach to the Internet gives China enormous power and raises the question, does China have the capabilities to affect the future of the Internet.

The Politics of Internet Control

February 4, 2008

Government and the Web


For search engines such as Google, influence from governments is an un-recognised fact. Google is constantly blocking links and although its not always stated why, a good assumption would be because of governmental action.
This type of action is highlighted in the ‘Clambake’ story, whereby the Norwegian Andreas Heldal-Lund, created a website that targeted and exposed the deepest of secrets relating to the church and its teachings. With the church unable to have the Norwegian’s service provider shutdown, the church soon turned to Google, where the argument was made that Clambake’s materials were acting as an infringement of copyright that Google was legally obliged to block.

Further examples of this type of action were found in 2002 by Jonathan Zittrain and Ben Edelman, who discovered that Google, in both France and Germany had more than one hundred sites blocked, sites that were available to access on google.com.
This therefore indicates that German and French sites seem to be screening search results. Governments’ cracking down on forbidden information, in an open manner is one thing, but it is much harder to notice information becoming more and more difficult to find, in other words it is hard to know what you don’t know. This governmental power is highlighted further in the quote below.