Up to now, the Internet has enabled millions of people to access information and express their opinion. Now, China and Russia are pushing for states to have a greater say over the World Wide Web at the UN telecoms conference in Dubai. Could this mean an end to the Internet as we know it?
UN member states are set to review Internet regulations at the conference, which kicked off in the United Arab Emirates on Monday. User data has been administered by private organizations up to now. But Moscow has put forward a proposal saying member states should have equal rights to manage the Internet. Data protectionists and human rights campaigners fear greater curbs on cyber freedoms in authoritarian countries.
And Europe is pressing for a new Internet tax to target the Web's largest content providers, including Google, Facebook and Apple. Under the proposals, the companies would have to pay a fee to send data along telecom operators' networks outside the US.
So who will control the Internet in the future?
Tell us what you think. World Wide Web - Free Internet in Danger?
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Markus Beckedahl - Since 2002, Beckedahl has been blogging about politics in a digital society at netzpolitik.org, an award-winning blog widely read across the German-speaking parts of the world. He is also co-founder of "newthinking communications", a Berlin-based agency specializing in open-source strategies and digital culture. Beckedahl has been organizing re:publica's conferences on blogs, social media and digital society since 2007. He serves as an expert to the German parliament's Enquete Commission on Internet and Digital Society and is a member of the media council for the Berlin-Brandenburg Media Broadcasting Authority. Beckedahl also teaches as a college lecturer on digital media topics.
Sergej Sumlenny – After studying journalism at Moscow University Sumlenny first worked as producer in the ARD Moscow bureau, then for business TV network RBC TV, becoming chief editor of the “World Business” newscast. In 2005 he came to Germany as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, taking a doctorate in political science. Today he is the Germany correspondent of the business journal “Expert.” His book “Nemetskaya System” (The German System), which probes the social and economic mechanisms in German society, was published in 2010.
Philipp Holtmann - As an undergraduate, Philip Holtmann, who is German, took courses in Middle Eastern History, Islamic Studies and Arabic Language and Literature at institutions in Germany, Israel, Jordan and Egypt. He joined the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, where he worked on a research project entitled 'Internet Jihadism'. As the Israel correspondent for the German-language 'Jüdische Zeitung', he reported also from Jordan. Today he works as an expert on the Middle East and the Islamic world at the University of Vienna.