Global Internet Governance: The Case for Ethics and Ombudsmanship
The borderless internet and its explosive growth in a decade bring unprecedented demands on borderless cooperation to produce effective regulatory frameworks. Already some 18 international bodies are engaged in aspects related to internet backbone technology and a range of transactions including trade, security, financial flows and commercial relations (Rundle, 2005). The darker side of the opportunities provided by the internet – such as terrorism, child pornography, and fraud – present the greatest challenge to international resolution, given different philosophical and constitutional approaches to individual privacy and freedom of speech, among other course-setting tenets. This paper reviews the current developments in global internet regulation, and proposes that a major gap exists in attention to an underlying set of ethical principles. After review of the cultural and historical roots of ombudsmanship and its current international practice, it is further proposed that such a mechanism could provide public voice and transparency in the evolving superstructure of cyberspace governance. The appropriate location and modus operandi is indicated, drawing on precedents in multiple socio-cultural contexts, intergovernmental relations and law.
Keywords: Internet Governance, Internet Regulatory Frameworks, Internet Ethics, Ombudsmanship, Netizenship
Janet de Merode
Doctoral Student, Media Psychology Program,