Green Room

Diplomacy Of The ‘Public Good’

posted at 8:37 am on March 19, 2010 by

The whole repressive world is watching to see whether the United States adopts network neutrality as law in the land of liberty, and then they will use it as an excuse to further curtail Internet freedom in their own countries.

Read between the diplomatic lines Philip Verveer spoke this week at The Media Institute, and that’s the message you’ll hear.

Verveer, the State Department’s coordinator for international communications and information policy, has been getting not-so-hopeful vibes from his counterparts abroad who have “a very significant preoccupation” with the U.S. debate on net neutrality. He didn’t name names, but here’s a top 10 list of Web censors to get your imagination flowing.

Verveer, a former top official at the FCC, warned that if the United States reverses course on regulating the Internet, other countries could rush through that open door to do the same.

“It could be employed as a pretext or as an excuse for undertaking public policy activities that we would disagree with pretty profoundly,” he said.

Do-gooders in America no doubt will scream: “It’s different; we’re acting in the public good!” But if U.S. government officials get to define the public good here, diplomats like Verveer are going to have a tough time convincing, say, Chinese officials they can’t do the same.

[Cross-posted at Digital Society, where the author serves as the editorial director]

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Human Rights is an ‘option’ for the left. Historically, it has been a put option.

percysunshine on March 19, 2010 at 2:54 PM