The Internet Against the World

Imagehy are so many nations willing to gather and discuss Internet governance under the umbrella of the UN, when it’s fairly clear none of them require the body’s approval to do just exactly as they please within their own borders? It’s a question of international norms, said Eli Dourado, a Mercatus Center research fellow. We’re trying to say, “Well, this is what well-behaved, good countries do.”

Last December, the United Nations-sponsored World Conference on International Telecommunications accomplished… well, not a ton. Disagreement abounded, as Western democracies (the U.S., Australia, Europe and the like) aligned against predictable foes (China, Russia, several Arab states) to ensure that the proceedings ended at loggerheads.

Despite the December stalemate, the UN’s International Telecommunication Union hasn’t given up. In mid-May, representatives from around the world met in Geneva to take another crack at finding common ground.

In this TechNewsWorld podcast, we chat with Eli Dourado, a research fellow with the Mercatus Center’s Technology Policy Program at George Mason University and cofounder of the website Dourado, who has written for Foreign Policy, Wired and Ars Technica, among others, was in Geneva to keep tabs on the proceedings, formally dubbed the “World Telecommunications/ICT Policy Forum.”

Dourado joined us to talk about what has changed since Dubai, why censorship-happy governments care about UN approval, and what role recent stories — like, say, gratuitous cyberespionage conducted by China — have on the debate.


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