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Internet is beyond political control: Cerf

Anand Parthasarathy



FUTURISTIC VIEWS: Vint Cerf at a seminar in Bangalore on Tuesday. — Photo: Anand Parthasarathy

Bangalore: The man widely recognised as the `Father of the Internet' — he presided over its birth and co-wrote the protocol that underpins it — thinks the "baby" has grown too big for anyone to play nurse.

"It is a huge, new democratic opportunity and beyond any one agency's political control," says Vinton (Vint) Cerf, who is at present the Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, even while remaining Chairman of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the agency that oversees and allocates "top level" Internet addresses.

Nations had tried to control portions of the Internet for their own national goals — but the Net is too ubiquitous for any single agency to throttle, Dr. Cerf said. "No one owns the Internet — but there must be some agencies to make it work."

There has been some apprehension about the degree of official U.S. government oversight of the activities of the ICANN — and hence by implication of the Internet — but speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a media seminar here on Tuesday, Dr. Cerf said even such residual government interest was set to taper off totally in a year or two; he had received official assurance of this.

The controversy on whether the Internet's founders — the U.S. — were also its `keepers' was a concern for developing nations, during two U.N. sponsored summits on the Information Society in 2003 and 2005. But technology had rendered such concern irrelevant, Dr. Cerf felt.

To the vexing question of inappropriate content on the Web, particularly in areas like pornography, Dr. Cerf felt the remedy lay in filtering content at the user's end, with technology that is becoming better every day. "The Internet is a mirror. If you don't like what you see, fix the person, don't fix the mirror!"

With Google since late 2005, Dr. Cerf had been guiding the search leader's efforts to make Internet for everyone a reality. "Information alone is not powerful; sharing it is," he feels.

Towards this end, Dr. Cerf believes the jump to the next (sixth) version of the Internet Protocol IPv6 is "desperately needed if we are to reach the world's 4 billion people, who are now untouched by the Net."

"Google does not a corner in creativity — we are relying on the rich creativity that lies in India to produce content that is specific to language and culture," Dr. Cerf said.

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