Feeds

IGF: success, great success or useful sideshow?

Making hard decisions, melting hard cheeses

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

IGF Blog When asked a month prior to this week's meeting in Geneva how it was likely to go, one diplomat closely involved in the talks was unequivocal: "It will be a success."

Really? "Of course," he said. "Every UN meeting is always either a success or a great success."

The United Nations truly does inhabit its own world. And it comes with its own language. If you assume a one-to-ten scale ranging from offensively rude at one end to utterly delightful at the other, every word at the United Nations comes with a +4 handicap.

You'd think this would make the organisation sound stupid when something really wonderful does happen. Theoretically, yes, but then nothing undertaken in all its decades of world negotiation has ever registered above a six, so there's never been the opportunity to experience diplomatic nausea.

Meanwhile, the constant, pervasive level of outward glee has helped prevent us all from entering a Third World War, so if a bunch of people in New York and Geneva want to be disturbingly polite to one another, let's let them be.

There's a lack of decorum...

The talks were about the creation of a new body, the Internet Governance Forum. The IGF will be the first ever global forum for the internet. You could easily argue that it is already five years late, but that's how things work in world politics...slowly.

You could also be forgiven for thinking that despite the delay, the creation of the IGF is a wonderful, glorious thing. After all, hasn't the internet turned the concept of the "global village" from a catchy concept into a real-world experience?

I have bought a Parma ham direct from Italy and a banned booked from the United States. I've played a computer game against a man sitting in Japan, and I've read local newspapers in the Middle East without even leaving my house. I've downloaded files in seconds from servers that it would take me 24 hours in a plane to physically reach.

This is extraordinary, but it has also meant that our systems and mechanisms for aiding, dissuading, and sometimes banning items within our own societies, have been weakened, bypassed and in some cases, undermined.

That it's taken this long to arrive at a global forum where everyone can discuss the impact the internet has, and how to deal with the problems it throws up, is incredible.

What's sadder is that the IGF is only the by-product of a far more unpleasant fight for power. The world's governments met in Geneva in 2003 and then in Tunis last year to discuss what to do with this internet. The US government decided, in its wisdom, to go against previous promises and the will of virtually the entire world and fight tooth-and-nail to keep control of the net hierarchy.

In time, that decision will be seen as a by-product of a shaky period in world politics and a dangerously self-confident US administration. But while governments were fighting over power and control, enough people realised there was a lot to discuss that shouldn't be waylaid by internecine fighting. The Internet Governance Forum was the term finally applied - the name itself testament to the war in which it was born.

Maybe it's the fact the internet-control issue has still yet to be dealt with that saw so many people this week roll their eyes at the "weak" IGF. Until that battle is finally fought, everyone will continue to look for proxies.

It's a sad reality, but the wild dreamers that made the internet possible in the first place have been turned into cynics thanks to governments playing long drawn-out and two-faced games. It's especially ironic that at a time when governments have never been more willing to accept they need others' help, that the very people they seek have called it a day.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Next page: Fondue?

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.