'Father of the Internet' warns Web freedom is under attack

Amr Elsadr aelsadr at EGYPTIG.ORG
Thu May 24 16:07:00 CEST 2012


Having spent most of my life in a country with a largely conservative
society, I would like to share some thoughts on the issue of legislative
action to combat moral decadence as a result of online exposure to Web
content. A couple of months ago, an MP belonging to one of the
ultra-conservative parties now holding a majority in the Egyptian parliament
proposed a law to force local ISPs to block pornographic content in Egypt.
Furthermore, the law (which our esteemed legislative branch of government
has quickly voted in favour of with very little debate) goes on to allow the
authorities to punish any ISPs that do not comply with the ban. Although the
Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) and the
National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) are both cooperating with this
new legislation, it is a very unpopular law amongst the officials who
understand the implications (particularly concerning cost-effectiveness).


Last month, at the annual national ICT conference, our newly ratified NGO on
Internet policy and development arranged a panel discussion. We invited the
MP who proposed the law and held a debate in which it was quite obvious that
he has next to no understanding about Internet policy and what it entails.
IMHO, this individual is merely a tool following orders passed down from his
party for what many believe is just a lame attempt at gaining public support
on a controversial issue. However, with a closer look at the dynamics of
Egyptian politics, this legislation is probably no more than a stepping
stone for the powers-that-be to control the flow of information to the
Egyptian public via the Internet, which has been (to say the least)
extremely problematic for the former(?) ruling regime. Does any of this
sound familiar to anyone??

Over the years, I have developed what I believe to be a healthy distrust of
politicians and their motives. With all due respect to others on this list
who share my background of living in conservative societies, there are
solutions that do not necessitate banning of content, even illegal content,
on a national scale; amongst which is one that currently exists in Egypt to
allow parents to locally block porn sites to their personal computers at
home without treading on the "slippery slope" of compromises freedom of
expression on a nation-wide scale. At least here in Egypt, this is a
well-known fact conveniently ignored by legislators with ulterior motives.



From: NCSG-Discuss [mailto:NCSG-DISCUSS at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 8:43 AM
Subject: Re: [NCSG-Discuss] 'Father of the Internet' warns Web freedom is
under attack

dear all:
some government control... for political issue... some for industry
issue.... some for security/defence issue.. but in Indonesia somehow on
ethical and pornography issues :-)

sometimes we forget because of the scale and power of Internet that actually
internet supposed to be the tools... to deliver th contents... or is it the
ends.. ?
regards, rudi rusdiah - apwkomitel - indonesia
On 05/24/2012 09:03 AM, Kadian Davis wrote:

Increasingly Governments are moving towards control of Internet Freedom.
Freedom of expression, although debatable, is a fundamental right and is
often the center piece of a democracy. However, Governments are sometimes
preoccupied with finding ways to protect national security and human rights
pertaining to Internet usage. I believe that the mechanisms for enforcement
of copyright laws  or illegal content laws through DNS filtering is
disproportionate and  is too restrictive. In total, DNS filtering undermines
security on the Internet and may block legitimate content from the Internet.
Therefore, this negatively impacts freedom of expression.

It is important to note that the blocking of domain names does not actually
remove illegal content off the Internet.  As a result, there is need for
various human right agencies within the government, private sector, academia
and civil society to negotiate the terms and conditions for Internet
Regulation.  However, I believe that these agencies should have a basic
understanding of the Internet before negotiating Internet regulation.
Moreover, Governments need to realize that harsh regulations of the Internet
may impede innovation through various ICT tools.

Recently we have seen a few examples pertaining to Internet Freedom see

  "Iran's telecommunications ministry has barred local banks, insurance
   firms and telephone operators from using foreign-sourced emails to
   communicate with clients, a specialist weekly said on Saturday.  "The
   telecommunications minister has ordered the use of domain names ending
   with .ir" belonging to Iran, Asr Ertebatat reported." See

In addition, we see that India is pushing for the creation of a forum called
'Committee for Internet Related Policies' (CIRP) to develop internet
policies, oversee all internet standards bodies and policy organizations,
negotiate internet-related treaties and sit in judgment when
internet-related disputes come up. The catch is that India's formal proposal
is for CIRP to be funded by the U.N., run by staff from the U.N.'s
Conference on Trade and Development arm and report directly to the U.N.
General Assembly, which means it will be entirely controlled by the U.N.'s
member states. See http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3423018.ece

We can effect change let us bring these issues to the fore at the various
(ICANN, IGF, WSIS, IETF etc) Internet Governance meetings.


Kadian Davis.

On Wed, May 23, 2012 at 8:10 PM, rusdiah <rusdiah at rad.net.id> wrote:

it is not easy talk about freedom, safety, neutrality, cybercrime, IP
pirate, CISPA...with different interest... personal interest, national
interest... business interest of the stakeholders ...

anything that are not following somebody interest will be bad and sometimes
considered as a crime ... cybercrime...

"either you with me or against me....."

this is the challenge for the future global dialog, not as easy during the
period of cerf when he started the Internet everybody has one goal... ...
regards, rudi rusdiah - apwkomitel (association of internet community -


'Father of the Internet' warns Web freedom is under attack

By Andrew Feinberg - 05/21/12 11:07 AM ET

"Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf on Monday warned that Internet freedom is
under threat from governments around the world, including the United States.

Cerf, a computer scientist who was instrumental in the Internet's creation
and is now employed by Google as its "Internet evangelist," said officials
in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe are using intellectual
property and cybersecurity issues "as an excuse for constraining what we can
and can't do on the 'net."

"Political structures . are often scared by the possibility that the general
public might figure out that they don't want them in power," he said.

He sounded the alarm about the International Telecommunications Union (ITU),
arguing the group is poised to assume the role of global Internet cop.

"There is strong indication that the Internet will enter the picture [for
the ITU]," Cerf said at the Freedom to Connect conference.

Cerf said the ITU is likely to try and lock in mandatory intellectual
property protections as a backdoor for easy Web surveillance.

Even good-faith efforts at Internet policymaking should be viewed with
skepticism, Cerf said, because balancing freedom and security "isn't
something that government alone is going to figure out."

He criticized the Cybersecurity and Intelligence Protection Act (CISPA),
legislation passed by the House to encourage companies to share information
about cyber threats with the government, because it lacks "adequate
constraints" on how the information is used.

But Cerf said he has the "optimistic belief" that attempts by hostile
governments to restrict access will be circumvented by resourceful engineers
around the world.

"If someone stops me from communicating, I'll find a way around it," he

Cerf also urged vigilante groups such as Anonymous to stop using
cyberattacks as a means of activism, saying the hackings are

"I don't think lawlessness is our friend," he said.

Ultimately, there is a legitimate role for law enforcement on the Web, he
said, adding that "it would be bad for us as a community to say . that all
the good things outweigh the bad."

"That's not a credible position to take," he said.

Cerf said activists and regulators alike harm themselves by using terms like
"cybercrime" because they suggest that "every bad thing that happens on the
Internet is a crime."

"Some are just bugs," Cerf said, while suggesting a better goal for
policymakers should be "cybersafety."

Kadian Davis

"Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; For the future of that man
is peace" Psalm 37:37.

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