Powers and Jablonski are clearly concerned about the Information Industrial Complex and its effects on the governance of the Internet. What do you think is the biggest critical concern, given their coverage of government involvement, economic implications, and their assessment of multistakeholder governance?
The whole concept of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) is a bureaucratic hamster wheel, held up by the government on one side, private corporations on the other, and the labor force powering the cycle. It’s not to say there are no benefits – the hamsters get fed and all – but do the spiffs outweigh the costs?
I think it necessary to outline the MIC a smidge to be able to evaluate its comparison with the governance of the internet.
The origin of this Military Industrial Complex snowball – I’m referring specifically in the United States, since it is not a unique phenomenon – began during the Great War in 1914 as the US-of-A began reaping economic benefits from its European allies’ demand for war-time materials. Subsequently, the U.S. engagement in WWI spawned a massive internal industrial investment, which led to a post-war economic surge. And thus it began … the economic benefits of WWI being a model for WWII, but now it came with the cherry of the New Deal’s lessons of internal investment on top.
During the WWII boom – pun fully intended – the United States reached full employment, doubled its output of products and services, and instigated the GI Bill. So, why stop a golden wheel from spinning? And thus, it continued. And, analogous to the aforementioned snowball, got bigger and bigger until the top couldn’t see the bottom throwin’ money out the window to substantiate budgetary paperwork. Uh, and no analogy intended there, the money throwin’ is a tried-n-true MIC effect.
Here’s the issue: With the government at the helm, “profit” is of no real concern when it can simply be printed, nor is “client retention” – being that “clients” will get audited if they don’t pay taxes, and simply don’t have an alternative choice. Choosing a government is not as easy as selecting a grocery store in a capitalist market.
In, “The Real Cyber War,” Powers and Jablonski have compared this unrelenting MIC phenomenon with what they’ve dubbed the “silicon triangle,” which links policymakers, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) players and the U.S. public. However, in this “information industrial complex,” the U.S. is sharing the steering wheel with ICTs that have developed this disruptive technology for public use. And because regulation and policy can’t be implements at the speed at which the internet has been absorbed into the living rooms, lives and businesses of the majority of countries around the globe, there are profound and valid concerns related to the governance of this transformative tool.
Content Control: Who controls or regulated the flow of information; from upload to consumption? For example, a massive quantity of information that’s packed into the heads of the millennial generation is a direct result of the order in which Google ranks search results.
Economic Platform: Who controls economic flows? From online monopolies and the devastating effect they’ve had on the brink ‘n mortar world, to copyright infringement of digitized arts and information and the similar effect they’ve has on related industries.
Information Security: Who is regulating the collection and storage of private information? In the U.S. it’s up to the Terms of Service of individual online companies, whereas in the E.U., the government has an overarching law protecting the privacy of all E.U. citizens.
International Application: Is the internet accessible internationally? Non-Latin based alphabets are just being “binary-ized” by the Domain Name System controller, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
When such an omnipotent disruptive technology is implemented internationally, there’s just no “biggest” concern when the cultural consequences are so vast and profound. And because of the vastness, no one government should be in control of it. Thus, regarding the speed of the internet’s takeover and the stage of development that it’s currently in, globally, I find the multistakeholder model of ICANN to be a righteous decision. This is not to say development can stop, but we do need to recognize the complexities of international accommodation as a step-by-step process.