Internet governance: What if the sky really is falling?

internet governance

There is nothing, I have observed, that makes readers’ eyes glaze over quite like a discussion of “Internet governance.”  It is entirely understandable; there has been a fair bit of hand-waving and even hand-wringing, about Internet governance over the past couple of decades – I have been among the guilty on this – and nothing much ever actually happens; governance talk turns out to be just that – talk – while the Internet seems to purr along quite well from one day to the next, with no more “governance” than it seemed to have ten or twenty years ago, thank you very much.

But something truly ominous is brewing on the Internet governance front, something with the potential to affect every one of the billions of people who now use the Internet on a daily basis, and not for the better.  It is, unfortunately, buried pretty deep in some dense technical, and the legal, weeds, but here is the story in a nutshell.

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Government will have to address demand side issues for Digital India Plan: Ericsson’s Ulf Pehrsson

NEW DELHI: As the Indian government embarks on its ambitious Digital India plan, critical to this will be addressing demand-side issues and not just creating broadband capacity, said Ulf Pehrsson, global regulatory head of Swedish telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson.

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Europe is wrong to take a sledgehammer to Big Google (Evgeny Morozov in FT)

Image result for google company images

It is the continent’s favourite hobby, and even the European Parliament cannot resist: having a pop at the world’s biggest search engine. In a recent and largely symbolic vote, representatives urged that Google search should be separated from its other services — demanding, in essence, that the company be broken up.

This would benefit Google’s detractors but not, alas, European citizens. Search, like the social networking sector dominated by Facebook, appears to be a natural monopoly. The more Google knows about each query — who is making it, where and why — the more relevant its results become. A company that has organised, say, 90 per cent of the world’s information would naturally do better than a company holding just one-tenth of that information.

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9 Rules For Emailing From Google Exec Eric Schmidt

In a new book out this week chock full of Google-flavored business wisdom, How Google Works, Google executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt and former Senior Vice President of Products Jonathan Rosenberg share nine insightful rules for emailing (or gmailing!) like a professional

Communication in the Internet Century usually means using email, and email, despite being remarkably useful and powerful, often inspires momentous dread in otherwise optimistic, happy humans. Here are our personal rules for mitigating that sense of foreboding:

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How to become smarter

D. Shivakumar, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd, is an affable man. Behind the affable exterior is a thoughtful professional who frets that “why companies fail” is among the most researched topics on the Internet.
Shivakumar isn’t a proponent of companies building a “strong culture”. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he finds the idea disconcerting. “Strong cultures hurt companies,” he says.
As much as it sounds counter-intuitive, he’d much rather strive towards an “enabling culture”. Because, he argues, “companies with strong cultures cannot adapt. Henry Ford built a strong culture. It came back to haunt and hurt him. Companies with enabling cultures allow you to learn, accept failure and move on.”
Shivakumar’s passion is such that he maintains a ravenous appetite for learning and devours on average at least two books every week.

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Section 66A: 3 things you need to know (Mihir S. Sharma, Business Standard)

The Supreme Court is never easy to predict. But, as was widely hoped, it has struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 (as amended in 2008). This has led to much happiness (and much hypocrisy). Yes, you are slightly freer on the internet today. But, sadly, only slightly.
Still, there are at least three big things that this judgment and this controversy tell us about the Indian state, and our rights as citizens.
This judgment reaffirms the true and central role of India’s courts as the guardian of our fundamental rights. It is sad that this needed reaffirmation. But, just to see how much of a turn this is: the lawyer Gautam Bhatia pointed out on Twitter that not since 1960 has the Supreme Court taken a stand to defend individual freedom of expression against executive action.
The decades since then have not been good for freedom in this country. Indira Gandhi’s authoritarianism; the deification of “offence”; religious and ethnic politics have all had chilling effects in one way or another. Meanwhile, the courts were busy elsewhere – first compromising with Indira Gandhi, and then atoning for that error through helping create and positive rights in the economic and social domains. Finally, they have spent much time and effort of late on managing the economy, the environment, this, that and the other. This judgment is therefore doubly welcome.
The executive cannot be relied on to protect unpopular views. Quite the opposite. That role has to be the courts’, but since 1960 it has not been its primary focus.

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