The Internet, Freedom, And The UN


hat do these things all have in common? The freedom of the internet is going to be discussed at an international scale soon, at the UN. Behind closed doors. And that’s got some people scared—including Google.

We aren’t going to take a stance on this, because we believe it’s important for you to decide for yourself. But it’s hard to find unbiased news on the matter (especially on the internet). Still, we’ll do the best we can to stay fair.

Right now, no one government controls the internet. Anyone who wants to can simply connect to just about anywhere in the world, which makes it easy for people to send messages and hard for nations to control its people.

There are 196 member states of the United Nations, and many UN members are against a free internet as it is right now, for that very reason: they want to be in control of their countries. You may have heard of Arab Spring—that’s an example of how the internet can play a huge role in overthrowing governments (just ctrl+F “internet” on the link above).

The member states who want to control the internet have been trying to convince a group called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to take over and regulate the internet, which could turn over control of the internet to one big, international government.

And so the UN plans to meet in order to discuss the future of internet freedom. And they’re doing it behind closed doors, meaning nobody but the people present will know what’s being discussed—scary, considering it means they could be talking about the best ways to keep people from having free information. That’s why Google has this page about the UN meeting in Dubai, and this video.

Internet regulations are a hot topic right now, because most of the current internet laws are from 20 or 30 years ago—when the internet was brand new and nothing like it is today. While it’s hard to say we don’t need any new laws, it’s scary for internet-based businesses who worry about their profits. And these laws could easily impact you, too: new laws might limit who you can talk to on the internet, or what files you can share, or what websites you can visit.

Computer science today relies heavily on the internet—really, it always has. For everyone—but especially future computer scientists—topics like this are a big deal. This is your future being discussed, so you need to decide what you believe and make your voice heard.

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