Licensed to Surf?

On Saturday January 30th A UN Committee met to discuss world-wide regulation of the internet in order to curb cyber-attacks on companies and countries alike. Some officials called for the equivalent of a peace treaty between countries which would ostensibly outline what is permissible, what is not and even to draw the line between what is illegal and what may be considered an out-and-out act of war.

Many possible solutions were bandied about, none of which was scarier than what Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy officer for Microsoft proposed. He is among many experts that agree that there is a growing need to police internet activity in order to nip fraud, viruses and even espionage in the bud. While we can all agree that these are admirable destinations, the question is: “How do we get there?” While Mundie has other ideas, the most controversial among them is to require a sort of Internet Driver’s License (IDL) for all internet users.

This sounds like a wonderful idea for “criminals” “fraudsters” or other undesirables, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that no one can tell who’s who on the internet and so for something like the IDL to work, we would all have to have one. This sort of thing would mean not only the end of free speech on the internet (which is the only place free speech exists in some places), but it also opens the door for internet ID theft.

One can hope that this is just a blip on the screen, but I have my suspicions that we’ll be hearing more about this soon.

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