International group offers guidance on Internet policymaking, warns against centralized Internet regulation

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued June 29 a communique of fundamental principles for Internet policymaking. The document was created following meetings with business leaders, policymakers and technical Internet representatives from the United states and 33 other nations, according to a July 1 White House blog post.

The policy-making principles in the communiqué aim to "help preserve the fundamental openness of the Internet while concomitantly meeting certain public policy objectives, such as the protection of privacy, security, children online and intellectual property, as well as the reinforcement of trust in the Internet," according to the OECD document.

While the communiqué outlines guidance for policymaking it also advises against the creation of an international regulatory body for the Internet.

"As a decentralised network of networks, the Internet has achieved global interconnection without the development of any international regulatory regime," says the document. "The development of such a formal regulatory regime could risk undermining its growth. The Internet's openness to new devices, applications and services has played an important role in its success in fostering innovation, creativity and economic growth."

The OECD principles were developed through an "extensive, transparent, multi-stakeholder process," but civil society groups involved in the dialogue disagreed with the final text due to a disagreement on specific provisions on online copyright questions, say Danny Weitzner, deputy chief technology officer for internet policy, and Karen Kornbluh, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in the White House blog post.

"We will continue to seek common ground with them on how these principles are interpreted and implemented," wrote Weitzner and Kornbluh. 

Still, Weitzner and Kornbluh say the Internet policymaking principles "should be embraced by governments and other stakeholders." Among the principles are commitments to: promote the open, distributed, and interconnected nature of the Internet; co-operate in multi-stakeholder policy development processes; ensure transparency, fair process and accountability; strengthen consistency and effectiveness in privacy protection; and limit Internet intermediary liability.

"Internet openness is an Obama Administration priority," add Weitzner and Kornbluh, pointing to the president's "International Strategy for Cyberspace" (.pdf), released in May and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Internet Freedom agenda, first announced in February.

For more:
- see the White House blog post

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