Internet Society President Lynn St.Amour on New Year’s Day, 2012

Lynn St Amour, President of the Internet Society

First, thank you for all you do for the Internet and the Internet Society. As we reflect on our past and look to the future, we can be proud of our mission and how well it has stood the test of time. Promoting the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for people throughout the world was essential two decades ago and it is just as important today. In collaboration with our Members, Chapters, and partners, we were able to significantly impact the most challenging areas affecting the Internet and, ultimately, users. While the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 has been discussed for many years, it has never received more attention than in 2011. On 8 June, the Internet Society organised World IPv6 day to motivate organisations across the world to prepare for IPv6. More than 1,000 organisations worldwide participated and the event generated in excess of 300 major news stories. The “test flight” demonstrated that major websites around the globe are well-positioned for a global IPv6-enabled Internet, and we will build on this success with an expanded program in 2012.

We extended our global footprint with the addition of many new Individual Members, Chapters, and Organisation Members, and now span virtually every corner of the globe. We strengthened our Regional Bureaus and, in collaboration with Members and Chapters, they led many important initiatives, including 10 regional INETs reaching well over 1,000 participants. Regional actions are central to the success of our mission and we look forward to an even deeper engagement in the coming year.

The Internet Society continued its work as a champion of public policies that enable an open Internet. A few examples: we are now recognized and sought out for our Trust & Identity and Privacy expertise, as well as for speaking out on Human Rights issues. Since its inception, the Internet Society has been at the forefront of global Internet education, and over the years has empowered technologists and policy makers alike. Additionally, we held IETF Roadshows in Africa, Latin America, and Asia to encourage participation and drive greater awareness in the IETF. All these areas will continue to see significant growth in 2012.

While the list of 2011 achievements and impacts is far too extensive to cover here, I am delighted to say that we have never been better positioned to make an impact than we are in 2012. Our Business Plan outlines the priorities for 2012, and our efforts are focused around four strategic areas: 1) Fostering an open, innovative, and trusted Internet worldwide; 2) Advancing policies and strategies that strengthen the Internet’s growth and evolution; 3) Enabling a vibrant organisation and vital global community to advance the Internet’s future; and 4) Empowering people to achieve human potential through unencumbered Internet use. These areas are foundational to our mission and to everything we do at the Internet Society.

This coming year marks a significant landmark in the Internet Society’s history, our 20th anniversary. I am very happy to announce that starting today, as part of our year-long 20th anniversary celebration, we are launching a series of initiatives to reflect on the significant accomplishments of the past 20 years, as well as focus on the future. A highlight will be the Global INET 2012, 22-24 April in Geneva, Switzerland. This event will feature thought-provoking panel discussions and interactive workshops, and our new, recently launched website will serve as the focal point for details on all of our 20th anniversary events.

In closing, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Internet Society Members, Chapters, Board of Trustees, and staff for their immeasurable commitment and contributions, as well as to the Board and staff at the Public Interest Registry (PIR) to whom we owe a great deal. I also want to recognize the very important work of our colleagues in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) whose work is so critical to all of us.

But enough about work and the Internet Society, we will be back to that soon enough. For now, I’d like to wish all of you and your families the very best for 2012 and thank you again for your support.

-Lynn St Amour

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Take Down Censorship, not Free Speech

The Indian government, which this year already passed new content-removal rules for websites, now wants to take it a step further and censor some of the most-used websites like Google and Facebook — before the people of India even get to see the content!

kapil sibal obstructing Internet freedom of expression
Kapil sibal
India’s Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is asking internet and social media companies to proactively pre-screen user-generated content and remove it before it gets published. Really? This brazen attempt to silence expression online must not be tolerated and cannot be allowed to come to pass. We’ve seen the chilling effect these types of measures have in censorship regimes like China, Iran, and, Burma. Now India?

As more and more of India’s 1.2 billion people come online — internet usage is expected to triple over the next three years to 300 million users — we have to work together to ensure India’s right to information is protected and all our rights to view content, wherever we may live, are respected. The Minister is starting to hear the opposition to this law — now we need to turn up the pressure until he backs down. Sign below:

http://www.accessnow.org/take-down-censorship-not-speech

Currently, executives from companies like Google and Facebook are discussing this proposal with the Indian government. Besides the blatant violation of freedom of expression, prescreening puts an extraordinary burden on companies, would slow down the delivery of information, and makes corporations the arbiters of speech. Whether or not companies feel such screening is plausible, they cannot be asked to be the ones to determinine what is disparaging and what is not. With our collective voice, we have the opportunity to prevent this rights-restricting proposal before it gets off the ground!

Minister Sibal has said he endorses freedom of the press, but classifies speech on these sites as different. But we know there won’t be a free press without free speech online. Let’s call on the Indian government to endorse the democratic principle of freedom of speech by revising their content-removal rules and dropping this attempt to force companies to prescreen user generated content.

http://www.accessnow.org/take-down-censorship-not-speech

(The message above is from accessnow.org, posted here for discussion, with a suggestion that Chapter Members take a look at the petition and sign the petition)

A conversation with Internet Inventors

Conversation with Steve Crocker and Vinton Cerf, two of the Internet’s founding fathers. Crocker established protocols necessary for the workings of the Internet, and Cerf, a computer scientist, was instrumental in the development of the first commercial email system.

The recorded video is at page http://wwwhatsup.com/c+c/cerf+crocker_smithsonian_11-9-2011.flv
A better video may be available after some time.

Introduction to W3C Mobile Web and Application Best Practices

This very popular course has been substantially revised for 2011 and now includes a lot of new material concerning Web applications. Delivered online over 8 weeks beginning Monday 5th September, the course will help Web designers and content producers who are already familiar with the desktop world to become familiar with the Web as delivered on mobile devices. It is based entirely on W3C standards, particularly the Mobile Web Best Practices and Mobile Web Application Best Practices.

Participants will:
• learn about and use the recommended versions of HTML and CSS to
use for mobile today;
• understand the constraints of working on mobile and how to overcome
them to deliver the best possible experience to the widest range of
users;
• practice client side and server side content adaptation techniques;
• learn about and use the exciting new APIs available on modern mobile
platforms.

The course will be lead by Phil Archer who was a member of the Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group from the outset. Phil is an acknowledged contributor to many W3C Recommendations related to mobile and gained praise from participants in the earlier course for his enthusiasm and subject knowledge.

The full price for the Introduction to Mobile Web and Application Best Practices is €195 but a strictly limited number of places are available at the early bird rate of €145.

Full details of the course and how to register are available at http://www.w3.org/Mobile/training/MobiWeb109/

Magna Carta of the Internet: Consent of the Networked

Consent of the Networked,” will be published by Basic Books in January 2012. This is a book by Rebecca MacKinnon, an Internet scholar at the New America Foundation, who argues that private corporations are exerting excessive power over the Internet and should have that power checked. Just as the English barons crafted the original Magna Carta in 1215 to constrain the power of the unpopular King John, she says, Internet users should organize and push back against the companies.

The control that companies exert over the Internet in areas ranging from banking to freedom of speech has raised increasing levels of concern, especially in the wake of the controversial WikiLeaks release of State Department cables last year. Several companies constrained WikiLeaks, including Amazon, which kicked WikiLeaks off its servers after pressure from American lawmakers; PayPal, which suspended WikiLeaks’ account; and credit card companies, which refused to take donations for it.
Governments at this point rarely act directly to constrain the Internet; instead, their policies are mediated through privately owned and operated services, Ms. MacKinnon said. This is true of China, which maintains the famed Great Firewall that blocks sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook in favor of local services. But domestically, every year the Chinese government gives out “China Internet Self-Discipline Awards” to honor companies that voluntarily cooperate with its censorship policies. Baidu, which had been Google’s rival in China before the search giant redirected China users to its uncensored Hong Kong site in 2010, has been among the honorees.
One company that has drawn attention is Apple, whose market power allows its review process for iPhone applications to become a de facto censor in many countries. In China, the company has restricted access to Dalai Lama-related iPhone applications, and earlier this year it removed a Palestinian protest iPhone application called ThirdIntifada in response to the Israeli government’s complaints. Even in the United States, Apple banned an iPhone app from a political cartoonist in 2009 because it ridiculed public figures, a decision that was reversed after the cartoonist won a Pulitzer Prize.
Companies should start thinking of their users more as constituents who have a voice in the policy making, she said. Also, good corporate governance policies, like the ones that have become standard for clothing manufacturing companies, could become more widespread. Google, for example, regularly releases a transparency report, which lists how many requests for information it receives from each government. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have helped develop a code of conduct around Internet freedom through the Global Network Initiative. However, , limiting the impact of the code.
She says that at this moment, we have not figured out how to achieve, define and opearationalize the consent of the networked, buTwitter and Facebook have not joined int it is time to start.
(Excerpts and links from New York Times)
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