As two superpowers draw the battle lines, interesting questions are being raised about governance on the World Wide Web. While there are any number of international governing bodies that can put pressure on China, who will rein Google in when they inevitably step over the line?
Who is Responsible?
The Google China Battle, as international media have labelled it, has sparked off interesting questions regarding the growth of the online community across the globe.
The internet has almost become its own country over the years. When thinking about internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter, one seldom sees them as companies with nationalities – they appear to reside in a world that has no ties to the real world.
The internet’s non tangible nature and tremendous reach has made it a world bigger than the earth itself, with no physical constraints that may limit expansion, no green house gasses, no real world impact for its rapid growth.
The China – Google debate, as I would like to call it, is a symptom of the underlying issue; who takes responsibility for the internet?
Who does it Belong too?
On the one hand there is the opinion that the internet belongs to the “people”. On the other hand, some believe that it should be governed by the country where the users and businesses utilise it.
This is clearly the divide and ultimately the reason why there is friction between China and Google. This debate should not be taking place between one of the world’s largest companies and the world’s largest country, as their opposing opinions are grounded on vary different needs.
Who’s domain does this debate belong to then?
Currently there are no international authorities that govern the internet, apart from the technical standards. As more and more people “immigrate” to the web, the need for an international internet governing authority will become more and more critical.
This debate has multiple underlying issues and questions that need to be addressed. Why is there no web-based business accreditation and monitoring authorities that protect the online community from non qualified practitioners?
There are many companies online developing websites that have no standardisation experience. If construction companies had to build large structures with no standards most buildings would be piles of dust and rubble.
I for one would like to see a multinational and multicultural governing body, that will protect the ever growing “online citizens” as migration numbers continues to grow – a United Nations of the internet.