Want to keep the ‘Net Free and Open? Do your part.

The Internet is a great place where a person has the freedom to take his or her opinion and have it heard by anyone with access. This freedom is something many of take for granted. We idly check our email, update our Facebook accounts, and tweet about the latest developments around us, but if we aren’t careful, all of this could change. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is an agency of the United Nations. It is an organization that has existed for a long time, and is responsible for coordinating global use of telecommunications technologies, and keeping a global standard in place so everything goes smoothly. There is, however, trouble on the horizon. This group is now meeting behind closed doors to basically determine the future of the Internet. The regulatory body on its own is a necessary agency, but the major problem here is that only governments are allowed to vote on the regulations that the ITU instates. This opens a route for countries to enact binding rules that can put an end to the Internet as we know it. The ITU is coming together to renegotiate a treaty that has stood for a long time, and while updating things is great, this treaty was created to regulate traditional forms of telecomunication, not something as new and complex as the Internet. Since only the governments have a say, censorship, tolls, removal of anonymity and many other chains that bind basic freedoms can be applied, snuffing out the very core of the Internet, which is the open sharing of information. Leaving out the people who can be most affected by these changes is a clear problem, as governments can effectively shield themselves from being critisized at the least, and at worst, muzzle the only voice some people have against an oppressive regime. As Google has put it, “Internet policy should work like the Internet– open and inclusive. Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included.” We here in the Philippines Dodged a bullet with the whole Cybercrime bill (for now), but there is a new boss fight to win.

What can we do? Admittedly, we don’t have very much power over their decisions, but we can let our voices be heard. Do some research. (Here’s a quick LINK to the Cliffnotes version of the problem, thanks to a man touted as one of the “fathers of the Internet,” Vinton Cerf, via CNN.) A quick search will let you know what the whole thing is about, and if you feel this is something to which you want to add your voice, head over to THIS LINK, learn more about it, and speak out. We might not be heard on our own, but all together, we may be able to make a difference.