Home court advantage

by John Quiggin on July 27, 2013

A while back I read a fairly standard presentation of the argument that the International Telecommunications Union should be kept away from control over the setting of Internet standards. The piece, on Ars Technica was written by Timothy B. Lee, who also writes for Cato Unbound[1]. Lee concludes:

The US hopes to preserve the “home court advantage” provided by the existing, open Internet governance institutions by preventing the emergence of the ITU as a rival standards-setting institution. Advocates of a free and open Internet and opponents of authoritarianism should hope that they succeed.

Now that we have a clearer idea of what the “home court advantage” actually entails[^2] it does not seem quite so appealing. The US government is at least as great a threat to a free and open Internet as any of those it routinely castigates in its Human Rights reports.

But if governments are determined to snoop as much as they can get away with, and claim unlimited powers to deal with their opponents as they see fit, is there any institutional structure that will make it harder, rather than easier for them to do so? I don’t know, but leaving control in the hands of the US state does not seem like an appealing solution.

[^1]: This isn’t meant as a “gotcha”. Cato has been good on issues like FISA and PRISM, and I only found Lee’s affiliation after the post was nearly done.
[^2]: The NSA uses “home field advantage”, which is less sport-specific