Votes: 0Posted On: Apr 07, 2017 10:05:09
The Internet has been a great success in transforming into a platform for self-learning. It has become vital and continuously evolving new media platform.
However, lately, questions are being raised on how we plan to preserve the Internet as a platform for innovation and competition combining economic and social value. To create an environment that can deliver the quality of experience for end-user in the future. With growing traffic volume, the unprecedented demand for the Internet will reach up to 5 billion users globally by 2020.
So, who controls the Internet?
There are two sides to this debate: one that purely deals with the techno-political aspect of the control of the Internet, and the other that deals with social and political policy debates.
Let us begin our discussion starting with the "Technological" aspect of the controlling of the Internet
To reach a website we type in the site name also known as Domain Name. The request is then forwarded to a DNS before you actually see the page open in front of you. The DNS is a large database used to translate Web URLs to a unique IP address. All the domain names and their associated IP addresses are stored in what is called a root zone file. So, a domain is valid only if it is there in this file.
As of now, this root zone file is controlled by the ICANN.
Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
ICANN is a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving the different sections of Internet addressing like Domain Name System Management, Root server system management and IP address space allocation among others. ICANN was inaugurated on 18th of September, 1998 in California with its headquarters in Los Angeles.
On 1st October, 2016 the ICANN cut its ties with National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency of United State Department of Commerce, to become an independent entity for the first time since its inception.
Since ICANN’s creation, it has been overseeing how web addresses on the Internet are passed out and have been regulating the IANA.
Broadly speaking there are three kinds of policy that ICANN is responsible for drafting.
DNS policy: The DNS policies are developed through Policy Development Processes (PDP’s) and are aimed at maintaining a proper hierarchy of the names. Some of the policies are Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy, Registry Services Evaluation Policy, and Consensus Policy among others.
Operational Policy: These policies focus on enhancing the operation of the organization. These are done by community inputs and other methods. Some of the policies are Document Publication Operational Policy, Conflicts of Interest Policy, Language Services Policies, and Procedures.
General Practices: These are some of the common policies that may not need the Board's approval to process. Example may include rules relating to public comment forum.
The second part of the debate covers the Social and Political aspects that control the Internet
Today, most of us are socially active on social mediums like Twitter and Facebook. We are more expressive about our views be it political or economics. But, do we have the liberty to post anything and everything on the internet? Or is there some entity keeping a check on us?
The answer to this is simple: It depends.
So, what can you put up on the internet?
Is there any barometer on which the moral ethics of an individual or the sensibility of a piece of content can be measured? On what basis can you put something up on the internet and leave something out? These are all the dicey questions that people dodge when asked about Internet censorship. “Internet Censorship” is a term that people use to describe content filtering of the internet. But who is in charge of the same? The topic Internet censorship in itself is a term coined by internet users all over the world and is hypothetical at its core. Because there is no central body that decides what should be put up on the internet and what can be viewed.
It depends on nation to nation and parameters on which they perceive content.
These parameters can be religious beliefs, cultural restrictions, moral ethics among others. It could also be politically motivated. For example, Internet users in the USA have a lot more freedom than in China which has full control over the filtering of content. Also, countries such as North Korea internet access is provided only to some authorized people and are mainly used for government purposes.
Content filtering can also vary within nations across different ISPs. Like in some particular place where the situation is hostile, content that may invoke hatred or encourages violence, is immediately blocked.
The various parameters on the basis of the content filtering might take place are discussed below
Based on society and religion
1. Content encouraging riots and violence
2. Selling drugs or other harmful substances
3. Content encouraging racism, sexism or other social malice.
4. Insulting religious beliefs of people in any way.
5. Sites indulging in any criminal activity
6. Pornographic sites
7. Videos with extreme graphical content unsuitable for viewing
1. Content criticizing the government over issues.
2. Sites exposing an ongoing political situation in the country.
3. Sites provoking the communities over the negligence of the government towards them.
1. Sites disclosing national or state secrets.
2. Content that encourages or promotes terrorism in any way.
3. Sites encouraging people to join cults that perform violent rituals.
These are only some of the reasons on which the content can be filtered, but again, it is relative to each nation.
Content filtering can be achieved by various methods such as IP filtering, DNS filtering, URL filtering, network disconnection etc. Though nothing is deleted from the internet really, it is only made unavailable.