Last week, Public Knowledge and the Organization of American States (OAS) organized a joint roundtable on “Cybersecurity and Civil Society in the Americas,” which took place at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the support of Open Society Foundations, the roundtable included civil society organizations from all over the Americans: Derechos Digitales, Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (IDEC), ADC Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Karisma, TEDIC, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), CodingRights, InternetLab, Datos Protegidos, Ipandetec, Hiperderecho, Access Now, New America, and more. It also included the active participation of high-ranking members of the Canadian, American, Colombian, and Guatemalan governments, the Brazilian Armed Forces, and private organizations.
Over the past several years, the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency specializing in information and communication technologies, has been discussing new ways to regulate internet services and applications. These apps include favorites like Skype, Signal, Line, Telegram, and Vimeo -- essentially most popular “over-the-top” (OTT) and streaming applications. These discussions will have serious consequences for both how you use the internet and your internet freedom. How we govern streaming services closely affects how we govern the internet itself. Expect this transformative internet governance conversation to escalate in the ITU and other arenas as we approach the ITU’s 2018 Plenipotentiary Conference, or “Plenipot”.
Imagine if Comcast owned iHeartradio, the New York Times, and AT&T. And in many places, your only option for an Internet Service Provider is Comcast. Your news would be provided by Comcast. Your cable TV: Comcast. Your favorite radio stations: also Comcast. Scary, right? Yet, that is exactly what will happen in South America’s second largest economy, Argentina, if the proposed merger of Cablevision (the telecom branch of Grupo Clarín, Argentina’s largest media conglomerate) and Telecom (one of the two telecommunications companies resulting from the privatization of Argentina’s national monopoly in 1990) goes through.
The average South Korean can choose between three major private internet providers –SKT, KT and LG U+ – and pay less than $30 a month for the fastest internet in the world. That’s $17 less than what the average American pays for a much slower internet hookup. But why? How is it possible that the citizens of the last developed democracy have a faster and more affordable internet than Americans? The simple answer to this question is that in the 1990s South Koreans decided that their country needed a fast and affordable internet provided by a vibrant private sector, and there was the political willingness, and a national plan, to achieve that goal.