📅 July 02 - July 08 | Internet Governance, challenges, and my role in it

I had a very full week this week for a couple of reasons:

One, I was asked to take part in a jury to assist in the evaluation of a group of my students in an aural assessment to validate their degree with an organisation that affords a European-wide equivalence. It is such a rewarding thing to see your students grow and develop into adults ready to take the next stage of their lives and careers. I’ve taught this group for three years, and the change in some of the students is remarkable. They will graduate this week, and I will be at the ceremony with them as one of the first to congratulate them!

The second thing that happened, is that I signed a contract of employment with a local firm that I have been consulting with for a couple of months or so. We worked on special projects during the initial contract and mutually agreed to further that relationship. I’m going to be working three days a week with them from now on, giving me two days to pursue other work. I’m going to be concentrating on special projects, not getting involved in the day-to-day workload of their current IT outsourcing work. I’m there to bring analysis, guidance and direction to not only the company but to their clients too. I think one of the things I have seen in small businesses, is that Digital Transformation is very difficult to get started until you have a vision and someone that can execute, starting from the basics. And that’s the important part. Too many try or are scared of what’s required by biting off more than they can chew.

I recorded a new episode of the ICT Pulse Podcast this weekend, and one of the things I discussed there is the need to do the basic things and not get distracted by the new flashy stuff. It’s not sexy, but it works and businesses see progress when doing it this way.

I have an announcement to make!

I have self-nominated to serve on the ARIN Advisory Council. (That’s the only way you can be nominated). The election is later this year, and I have a bit of preparation to do to get ready.

I’ve been more and more interested in Internet Governance since 2019 (a little before but not as concentrated), and I feel that having had an entire career based on and working with the Internet, I can give something back. I was an ARIN 52 Fellow, and I have become more active in the discussions around governance at various levels. I think the time is right for me to add a little and help where I can.

Wish me luck. I’ll write more about it here and on the socials to formally announce, soon.


As always, I have been reading a lot, so here’s a summary of the things that have caught my attention…

I recently mentioned that France had crossed a line in Internet shutdowns by blocking access to TikTok in New Caledonia, well another development out of France has emerged.1 This time, it is not the government but a private organisation run by a well-known sympathiser of the extreme right-wing political wing of French politics, Bolloré.2 A French court, at the insistence of Canal+ (an Internet provider as well as a media empire), has ordered various public DNS systems in France to deliberately pollute DNS results to try to stem a wave of streaming sites that pirate content like live football matches. Seeing the opportunity, several ISPs jumped on the bandwagon, notably Orange, SFR, and even providers in overseas territories like Outre-Mer Télécom, to try to force this through. It worked, and now Google, Cloudflare and Cisco are compelled to break the fundamental operating contract by providing false results for a DNS query. OpenDNS complied, but not in the way that Canal+ et al. had wanted, and pulled their services from France.3

The Internet is nearing a turning point in its governance structure, or at least, if we let it, the governance structure will not resemble the one we have now. Despite its faults, the current bottom-up structure has worn well. The top-down proposals being snuck into the Global Digital Compact are worrying. Lack of transparency and the preference (of some) for multilateralism is just one aspect of a governance structure that is about to get seriously challenged. This article highlights some of this discussion.4

NETMundial+10 was not much better…5

FastCompany published an excellent article about the Internet as it used to be. To be exact, in 1994. Well worth your time.6

I’ll get back to a normal pace next week. Until then, have a great week.

  1. https://matthewcowen.org/2024/06/24/june-june-end.html ↩︎

  2. https://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2023/12/20/vincent-bollore-parrain-d-une-alliance-entre-droite-et-extreme-droite_6206950_823448.html ↩︎

  3. https://torrentfreak.com/opendns-suspends-service-in-france-due-to-canal-piracy-blocking-order-240629/?ref=internet.exchangepoint.tech ↩︎

  4. https://circleid.com/posts/20230606-fragment-or-not-fragment-is-this-the-question-will-one-world-one-internet-survive-todays-geopolitical-stress-tests ↩︎

  5. https://www.internetgovernance.org/2024/05/08/the-disappointing-netmundial10/ ↩︎

  6. https://www.fastcompany.com/91140068/how-the-internet-went-mainstream-in-1994 ↩︎

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen