U.S. & China at loggerheads over internet policing

  • China and the United States continue to be divided on how to govern the Internet, with their experts no closer to finding consensus on core issues.
  • A panel discussion yesterday at the fourth World Internet Conference, saw the Americans calling for a multi-stakeholder approach, while the Chinese said the role of governments cannot be overstated.
  • The government needs to be “at its proper position” in decision-making bodies such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), said Professor Shen Yi, director of Fudan University’s Global Cyberspace Governance Study Centre.
  • Icann is the non-profit agency responsible for the Domain Name System. The US stopped overseeing the body last year, but countries like China and Russia prefer that its functions be handled by a multi-government agency, such as the UN.
  • But American academics such as Yale University senior fellow Graham Webster called for a “diversified approach” that includes the private sector, researchers and civil society.
  • Brookings Institution fellow Ryan Hass agreed, noting that government-level efforts have not kept pace with the development of cyberspace threats.
  • Chinese academics also defended Beijing’s control of the Internet. Professor Wang Yiwei of Renmin University claimed China does not block access to websites like Google, but is instead trying to get them to “localise”. “It’s like how we learnt Buddhism from India, but now it’s not the original Indian Buddhism,” he elaborated.
  • “Absolute power leads to absolute corruption,” Prof Wang concluded. “Without Wuzhen, without the rise of China, without Baidu, the US will be abusing your power.”

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