Internet Governance

Education as Advocacy

Anyone following the CISPA debate closely will know that in spite of the hoopla, as early as last year, Obama promised to veto the legislation should it pass Congress.

So why then would I, as part of the i2 Coalition, head up to Capitol Hill for a day of meetings with Congress as part of Internet Advocacy Day?

The answer is still CISPA, or more specifically, the culture in Congress that created CISPA.

Congress largely exists right now in a culture of, not misinformation regarding the Internet and technology, but non-information. Most of our Congressional representatives know very little about the technology of the Internet — our industry — be it networking, data storage, cloud computing or cyber security. Yet the Internet touches every sector of our economy and our personal lives. Even for those versed in the technical aspects of the Internet, there’s a huge learning curve as new technologies take shape every day.

What’s more, the beauty of the Internet is that the interface is so deceptively simple to everyday users. The problem is that this simplicity breeds false notions of what can and cannot be done from a regulatory and law enforcement perspective.

The i2C stands for a free and open Internet, but Internet Advocacy Day was less about lobbying a position, than it was about fostering a dialogue between our industry and Congress and helping increase understanding of what the Internet is and how it works. Our main goal was not to lobby a position or change minds, but simply to explain the technology behind the Internet and help shape the consensus forming in Congress about how encourage a free and open — and prosperous — Internet.

Sometimes advocacy is education, and that’s what Internet Advocacy Day was all about.

Photo by University of Salford

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