openDemocracy and internet governance

6 January 2006
Given my views (as expressed here on openDemocracy at the opening of last year's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis) I was surprised to learn from Paul Weyrich this morning that according to the president of America's Survival Cliff Kincaid I am in fact working for an organisation which "advocates granting the UN control over the Internet to help this scandal-ridden organisation regain its prestige throughout the world".

I thought I'd better double-check before handing in my notice. A quick scan of our ongoing debate "Governing the net", therefore, came as a relief. Messrs Weyrich and Kincaid, however, clearly forgot to scroll down the page.

If they had, they would have found cool analysis of the initial stages of the WSIS process from Solana Larsen and James Cowling, and, further down, a debate between Stefaan G. Verhulst of the Markle foundation and ICANN's pioneer and founding chair, Esther Dyson, differing over the relevance of ICANN and the need for reform over the coming years.

The most recent two entries in the debate, myself and my good friend and colleague Bill Thompson, represent two very differing views on internet governance. Whereas he sees a UN-controlled ICANN as a way to strengthen an organisation that needs our backing, I can't think of anything worse than "a conglomerate of technophobe heads of state working out what to do with it".
Differing views are always welcome on openDemocracy  - I should know, I'm the managing editor. And I'm sure we would welcome a contribution from both Mr Weyrich and Cliff Kincaid for these pages, as I'm confident that when they write for openDemocracy, they would do their research first.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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