Internet Governance Outlook 2012: Cold War or Constructive Dialogue?

In this first half of a two-part essay, professor for Internet Policy and Regulation at the University of Aarhus, Wolfgang Kleinwächter reviews the extraordinary year that faces the Internet and its governance, and asks: will 2012 see a cold war in cyberspace? Or will we see another spring of Internet freedom?

The Internet and the way it is governed may well become a big political controversy in 2012. Two billion people are now online. The network supports annual business transactions of several trillion dollars. And it has evolved into a strategic resource in national and international power struggles. High stakes indeed!

To make it simple, there are two options: either we continue with a free and open Internet that has historically enabled innovation, economic growth, social development and free communication. Or we take a U-turn towards a regulated, restricted, censored and fragmented Internet where national policies of governments and commercial interests of corporations reduce or strangulate individual rights and freedoms.

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