BRIC wants weight in internet realm

Dylan Bushell-Embling
04 Oct 2011

The increasingly economically important BRIC nations are seeking greater control over the internet, in areas ranging from administration to censorship.

But open internet campaigners are concerned that the force some nations want to exert could serve as a stranglehold on innovation and the democratizing force of technology.

Reuters has detailed several moves by BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations to gain more of a say, including an India- and Brazil-backed proposal to set up a UN body to form global internet policies.

The proposed new body would have oversight of existing internet bodies, and would seek to give developing nations an equal say in governance issues.

China, Russia, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan have also proposed that the UN develop a global code which would make it a sovereign right of states to set their own policies for internet-related public issues – including presumably censorship.

China has this month been pushing social networking sites to crack down on “internet rumors” in the latest in a line internet censorship measures in the nation.

Recent global developments suggest that there is a growing undercurrent of frustration over the lack of ability to exert authority over the internet globally, not just in the BRIC nations.

These include the introduction of more antipiracy measures such as three strikes laws and the ACTA treaty, and concerns over the ability of social media to help spread social unrest.

An attempt by the UN to assert governance over the intrernet by introducing the Internet Governance Forum has not satisfied, as the body's lack of powers are reportedly frustrating world leaders.

But the India/Brazil proposal is meeting resistance from some delegates, who fear it would be an intergovernmental mechanism. The companies, non-profit groups and other organizations that have a say in internet governance would also be loathe to relinquish control.

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