90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
Pushback On The United States’ Internet Role

In the wake of NSA spying revelations, a global push to move the United States out of its leading role in overseeing the Internet.

In this Wednesday June 13, 2012, file photo, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, President and Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom, speaks on expanding the number of domain name suffixes during a press conference in London. Hundreds of Internet address suffixes to rival “.com” should be available for people and businesses to use by the end of the year, the head of an Internet oversight agency said Monday Feb. 25, 2013. (AP)

In this Wednesday June 13, 2012, file photo, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, President and Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom, speaks on expanding the number of domain name suffixes during a press conference in London. Hundreds of Internet address suffixes to rival “.com” should be available for people and businesses to use by the end of the year, the head of an Internet oversight agency said Monday Feb. 25, 2013. (AP)

The United States was there early and deep in the creation of the Internet.  That put the US in the catbird seat in influencing and overseeing the shape of the Internet.  Gave America what’s been called “de facto control” over the global Internet, and encouraged the openness and freedom the US likes to champion as its own values.  Then came the flood of reports of America’s big spy agency, the NSA, trampling all over the web.  Hacking it to spy all over.  And angry international reaction.  It’s  blazing now. Up next On Point:  the new global push to strip the United States of its leadership role in the Internet.

– Tom Ashbrook


Milton Mueller, professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies, author of “Networks and States: The Global Politics of Internet Governance” and “Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and The Taming of Cyberspace.” (@miltonmueller)

Sascha Meinrath, vice president of the New America Foundation and director of the Open Technology Institute. (@saschameinrath)

Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. (@icann_president)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: What Does It Mean for the U.S. to ‘Lose Control of the Internet?’  – “Right now, the Internet is governed by a set of organizations with diverging responsibilities. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) helps assign domain names and top-level domains (the letters, like ‘.com’ or ‘.org,’ that come after the dot). Two other groups develop the standards for how information is shared and displayed through the Internet and on the web. And five regional Internet address registries assign IP addresses to Internet-connected devices.”

AllThingsD: What Last Week’s Anti-U.S. Shift in Internet Governance Means to You — “Last week a group of the Internet’s governing organizations announced they were effectively turning their backs on the United States. The heads of ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Internet Society, backed by the heads of the regional registrars for global top-level domains, issued a statement calling for the ‘acceleration of the globalization’ of the functions carried out by ICANN and IANA.”

Slate: We Can’t Let the Internet Become Balkanized – “Rousseff’s move could lead to a powerful chorus—one that would transform the Internet of the future from a global commons to a fractured patchwork severely limited by the political boundaries on a map. Brazil is one of a handful of countries—including Indonesia, Turkey, and India—that have wavered in the debate over whether to develop an international framework to govern the Internet, one that would replace the role that the United States has played as chief Internet steward.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Fiscally_Responsible

    I think that the U.S.A. should maintain its lead role in supervising the internet. After all, it was our own vice president, Al Gore, who invented it!

    • brettearle

      So your cynical politics drives your opinion on this topic?:

      That a one-time public figure–who is no longer public–could possibly have any meaning left for the future of US sovereignty, for the Internet?

      Well, that is a tongue-and-cheek observation of pithy insight, on the part of a Right Winger, if I ever heard one!

      Congratulations on your Wisdom! Please don’t stop there! We want more!

      • northeaster17

        Right wing talk radio has led to a real dumbing down of so many. But the internet has given them the means to spread their funny stories so that the rest of us can learn the truth. We should ban both.

        • brettearle

          Unfortunately, you and I need to live with Freedom of Speech. I have no doubt that you agree.

          In some ways the Right and its magnificent enabler–AM Talk Radio–simply embarrass themselves without us pointing it out.

          Unfortunately, that kind of Media is viral, contaminating, and contagious.

          Therefore, we need to form anti-propagandistic Vigilante Committees, from moment to moment–in an effort to offset the vile madness, spitting and throwing up on everyone else–that oozes from the Right.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            Perhaps the same people who designed the ACA website/system should transition their “expertise” to management of the internet! And actually, I read a great deal of sarcastic hate speech, race-baiting, classless class warfare demagoguery, and hear it from The Nation, foul balls like Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and others on the left.

          • brettearle

            What is most often heard in these voices is a sense of Equality and Egalitarian Rights–that a mind like yours couldn’t hope to fathom, appreciate or understand.

            For men and women, such as yourself, the concept of understanding true respect and dignity for one’s fellow man is like what kryptonite is to Superman.

            Good luck reading DC Comics.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            I assume that you are referring to the most basic human right: the right to be born (which your “equality and egalitarian rights; voices are the most vocal and militant to take away by supporting abortion.

          • brettearle

            You would need to ask each and every woman who makes that decision, for herself.

        • Fiscally_Responsible

          Spoken like a true “open minded” liberal. “I am open to the free expression of all political opinions, as long as they agree with mine!”

          • northeaster17

            Nuance my friend, nuance. Back to the chamber you go.

    • nj_v2

      GDS running rampant today.

  • fun bobby

    perhaps the internet should be sovereign from any state

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      I’ve been on the Internet since before Al Gore invented it. During that nascent epoch, the Internet was not governed by the Rule of Law. Rather the rarefied denizens of the early Internet, being steeped in the STEM disciplines, undertook to craft a high-functioning system with methodically crafted mechanisms of graceful and efficient self-regulation.

      The family of Internet Protocols exemplified a high-functioning network operating system with a high-functioning regulatory mechanism baked into the DNA of the system.

      It is ironic that the political world has not apprehended the STEM-based concepts for architecting a high-functioning system using 20th Century ideas that transcend the limited capabilities of the 4000 year old (and woefully obsolescent) Rule of Law.

      • fun bobby

        perhaps in response to the crackdown on internet liberty we should resurrect the BBS. I feel like the NSA would crack it anyways

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          I reckon the creative types who originally devised the Internet will once again devise a high-functioning solution to the problems created by a low-functioning American government.

          • fun bobby

            the nsa is very proficient at electronic eavesdropping

  • jefe68

    Given how 30% of the population does not even have broadband and that 44% of the worlds internet usage is in Asia, I’m not sure how we can justify calling the shots.

    The U.S. now has the ninth-fastest average Internet connection speed in the world, behind South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.



  • mairelena

    Forgive me for sounding so cynical, but here’s a fly on the wallpaper of the French foreign minister’s talk with U.S. ambassador:
    French: Forgive the over the top rhetoric for the home audience, monsieur, but you know how it is. Now, tell me, what information do you have for us?

  • truegangsteroflove

    It is in the nature of governments to spy on their citizens. For spy agencies, spying is spying, and they see no difference between domestic and foreign. Israel has had spies in the U.S. for decades. If technology and budgets allow for unbridled spying, spy on everyone they will.

    One of the guests referred to “the Chinas of the world and the Irans of the world.” There is only one China and one Iran. When people refer to singular people and nations in the plural they should be given zero credibility. This is a fake heady technique to lend an air of sophistication to a fake punditry attempt. Take what he says with a grain of salt, if that.

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    Harmonizing the laws, planet wide, would minimize the likelihood of antinomy (the clash of mutually incompatible laws), but it would not resolve a deeper flaw baked into the DNA of the Rule of Law. One would still have to reckon unbridled political drama arising from the mathematical fact that rule-based systems are inherently chaotic and ill-behaved even when the laws are religiously obeyed.

  • Yar

    Think of the Internet as a neural network connecting the world into a super-organism. If we are to achieve a sustainable world we Must have a functioning network. The US can’t declare we are the brain for the world.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    What is the value of a mediocre internet? Information should lead to enhancement of life. Most of what goes on, on the internet is meaningless. There should be much more distributed computing, seeking to solve problems. Instead we create more “systems entropy”, people yelling an screaming at each other; a mirror of life! The government answers by spying on you, to create evermore entropy. Where are the efforts to solve problems?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      Where are the efforts to solve problems?

      Here are my recommendation for the efforts to solve systemic problems.

      • northeaster17

        From the link above…..
        “As I assay it, the ten most intractable plagues of western civilization are conflict, violence, oppression, injustice, corruption, poverty, ignorance, alienation, suffering, and terrorism.”

        Solve these problems and half the internet would just go away.

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          The Internet originally had a primary objective of supporting education and research.

          If there is one problem that needs to be solved ahead of all the others, it’s the problem of ignorance.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        The very act of trying to solve problems solves problems. To solve intractable problems a person must stimulate “the minds eye”, thereby enhancing their own powers of self reflection. Our brains are always seeking solutions. When we don’t resolve the inner conflicts that these pursuits create, we manifest our ignorance in various ways, we carry our frustrations throughout the day and into our world. Freudian?

    • donny_t

      Ah, but there needs to be mediocrity in order to have good or great internet. And there a few services which are actually good on the internet. Why is the internet a mirror of real life? Because that’s what humans do. Otherwise it wouldn’t have blown up the way it has.

  • Euphoriologist

    The NSA always claims it’s protecting the US from terrorist attacks when confronted about it’s unprecedented subversion and surveillance of the internet.

    Turns out all along it’s been developing new ways to break into the private communications of American citizens, foreign citizens, world leaders, leading businesses, and respected universities like common low-life hackers or Murdoch newspaper reporters.

    There is nothing terrosim-related in these activities and there never was. Rather, the NSA’s primary mission is to exploit citizens’ and allies’ weaknesses for political and economic advantage now, with “national security” merely a convenient fig-leaf to carry out these activities.

    You do not need to build a $1.5 billion data-storage center in the desert to store the calls and emails of a few random Middle East Islamists. Instead, those billions of dollars worth of servers were built precisely to store *our* private communications and metadata forever and make it searchable at the touch of a button.

    What Edward Snowden’s leaks have shown is that the US intelligence community has been lying to Congress, to us, and to the world about it’s secret mission to break into and record all private communications.

    When will we do something about this lawless, unethical situation?

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Spending billions of dollars on computer systems that spy on people is a great example of abuse of technology. That same amount of money directed toward using computers to solve problems, would help to eliminate the forces that drive terrorism and discontent. “They” are creating an expanding entropy loop.

  • alsordi

    The image of a rogue state was typically a poor third world country, however the USA has since show its true colors to the world as a violent, ruthless, plundering and deceitful nation, only admired best for its relative monetary stability (at least for now) and the ability for international millionaires to make easy millions.

    • zookeeper216

      “violent, ruthless, plundering and deceitful nation.” Where are you from? Americans are decent people but their politicians suck. I suspect you have the same problems.

  • PeterBoyle

    Big Brother always claims that “it is for your own good” whenever they curtail freedom to suit their own plans. Why should we trust those who have proven to be untrustworthy? The only way for the internet and world wide web can be free is to remain free and uncontrolled by any entity other than the denizens themselves. When problems arise the netizens themselves solve the problem. Any attempts at governmental control is automatically destroying the original concept of the net, and should not be allowed by the netizens. In the end, it is the netizens themselves who have the real power.

  • Causal

    Is there a reason this hour isn’t being podcast? It doesn’t appear on my phone or in iTunes.

  • koconor100

    /begin sarcasm

    Don’t forget to blame snowden and Assange.

    And while we’re at it we need to free all the rapists and put the rape victims in jail for ratting them out. Just like the muslims do. There wouldn’t be so much fuss if they hadn’t of talked. Whats that you say ? We shouldn’t have done those things in the first place ? Who asked you your opinion ? You need to go to jail and sit beside Snowden a while I think.

    /end sarcasm

  • BMac

    The internet should be stewarded by a transnational, transgender organization of drag queens & Eskimo fairies

  • rich4321

    And by what right does the US has to govern the Internet? The US abused its power, acted like a cyber bully, this action is enough to revoke its right.

  • Regular_Listener

    Another great program. Three cheers for OP!

Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

Sep 16, 2014
From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

Sep 15, 2014
This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

More »
1 Comment
Tierney Sutton Plays LIVE For On Point
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

We break out Tierney Sutton’s three beautiful live tracks from our broadcast today for your listening pleasure.

More »