Third Time Lucky for EU and Internet Governance

by Maria on February 12, 2014

This morning, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes released the EU’s long anticipated response to the seismic changes in Internet governance caused by the Snowden revelations. In six hundred words, it throws down the gauntlet at United States over control of the Internet for the third time in fifteen years. This time it just might work.

Last October, the technical bodies that coordinate the Internet released the Montevideo Statement. Implying that trust in the Internet’s American stewardship had been fatally damaged by the Snowden revelations, the I*s (‘i-stars; Internet organisations) called for “the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing” and for the overall improvement of global multi-stakeholder Internet governance.

It was an astonishing development. For the US-born ICANN, ISOC, ARIN and IETF to say the US government’s monopoly of control over the Internet root must end was a break few of us saw coming. It didn’t stop there. Within days, ICANN’s CEO, Fadi Chehade, announced that ICANN and the Brazilian government would organize a meeting in early 2014 to start figuring out how this transfer of control might work.
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Why, Exactly?

by Belle Waring on February 12, 2014

As I am certain every one of you knows, the extraordinarily talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died recently of a heroin overdose in New York City. In what is a very heart-wrenching aspect of the story, he had been clean and sober for over 20 years before relapsing onto prescription painkillers and booze a few months back (people say.) He had been going to 12-Step meetings even close to the time of his death, and he’s leaving three young children behind. A total bummer.

What’s weird is that the police decided to go on a manhunt for the specific people who sold the drugs he OD’ed on, and then arrest those people in particular. Why? People must die of heroin overdoses in NYC all the time, right? More than one a day, surely. Does it matter especially much if a famous person OD’s on your drugs? As opposed to, say, a struggling single mother, or a homeless person? They first tested his body to see if the heroin had been laced with fentanyl, a pharmaceutical heroin analog, which has caused deaths in nearby Pennsylvania. It hadn’t. He had just gotten good old regular drugs, from his dealer, who did him a solid there. The internet briefly hyperventilated about how there were 50 bags of heroin found in his apartment. This also seemed stupid. He’s rich and famous–he’s supposed to walk out in the freezing cold to Avenue C every single day? The man can’t stock up? Isn’t there a polar vortex or something?
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Socialism in America

by Ingrid Robeyns on February 12, 2014

Paul Krugman has an interesting piece in which he argues that huge disparities in incomes undermine the dignity of the worst-paid workers. This sentence struck me most:

we live in the age of the angry billionaire, furious if anyone should suggest that his wealth doesn’t entitle him to acclamation as well as luxury.

On that topic, I’m inviting all American billionaires to attend a talk at the Stanford Center for Ethics in Society on Thursday where I will be arguing that the billionaire has a duty not to be rich. [If you’re not a billionaire, you’re equally welcome.] I think there are a couple of good arguments to give for this view, including arguments along the line that Chris wrote here recently. I’ve presented these arguments before to British, Dutch and mixed European audiences, and am curious whether the reactions of Americans will be different.

I’m prepared to be surprised. Even more so given a scene that happened on Sunday at a plantation in Louisiana that I visited, after a great tour in which I learnt a lot about the horrible conditions under which slaves had been working so that the plantation owners could build their wealth:

Me [asking a sales person in the plantation shop]: “How much should I tip the tour guide? What is the custom?”
Sales person: “Whatever you feel like.”
Me: “But I have no idea. I live in a country where we don’t tip anyone.”
Sales person: “Really? That’s not a good idea!”
Me: “We don’t tip because we pay decent wages.”
Sales person (with voice raised) “But that is socialism!”

Now if even an ordinary American, working on a former slavery plantation where he is every day reminded of a past of exploitation and gross violations of human dignity, believes that ‘decent wages’ implies ‘socialism’, then I start to understand that Krugman faces an uphill battle generating a reasonable debate about income inequality and human dignity. Let’s just hope that my encounter at the plantation wasn’t representative for the range of categories in which people are thinking.