After the battle over SOPA in the US House of Representatives, “internet governance” is a term that carries with it heavy weight and emotion among online activists and casual users alike.
But later this month, a UN diplomatic process will begin that some countries — notably China and Russia — hope will result in stiff internet restrictions, according to an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, written by Robert M. McDowell, a commissioner of the US Federal Communications Commission.
McDowell points out that the new system would "upend the Internet's flourishing regime" which protects the web from economic and technical regulation. Countries like Brazil and India, are "particularly intrigued" by the proposals, McDowell writes; he warns that opting out of the current governance regime, established in 1988, could result in a "balkanized" internet.
Traditionally, the internet has thrived and evolve as a space for free expression and the sharing of ideas, especially where it is free from government regulation and censorship. The current initiative would expand international governance of into areas currently unregulated.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, one of the proposed treaty's most enthusiastic backers, has stated the need to establish “international control over the internet."