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December 2005 Newsletter

INTERNET HISTORY NEWSLETTER - DECEMBER 2005

Welcome to the Internet History Newsletter, brought to you by the www.nethistory.info website.

In this edition, we try to predict what 2005 will be remembered for in Internet history. Here's what we came up with.

=> WSIS - governments try to control the Internet
=> GOOGLEISATION - new public policy issues emerge
=> PRESIDENTIAL MEDALS OF FREEDOM FOR CERF AND KAHN

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As 2005 draws to a close, what will the year be remembered for in Internet history?

Well, we can't be sure, but here are a few things that are likely to be remembered.

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WSIS - governments try to control the Internet

2005 was the year of the World Summit on then Information Society, but of particular importance to the Internet was the debate about the role of nations and the United Nations in Internet governance.

A great deal happened in this respect, and a great deal didn't. In terms of actual control functions, things probably got worse, as, is the light of a challenge from the UN to play a larger role, Internet governance became politicized within the USA and the USA decided to tighten its grip. If this was a mere bureaucratic move, it could be dismissed - but this was very political, purportedly involving the White House and certainly involving various elected members.

On one level, it makes very little difference at all. On another level, however, the Internet at least in terms of ICANN, has become very much declared an item of national interest by USA.

On a practical level, the counter-measure was establishment of a UN sponsored Internet Governance Forum, which will meet for the first time in 2006. This new body will prove interesting in how it approaches various key issues.

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GOOGLEISATION - new public policy issues emerge

2005 was also the year in which the power of Google became apparent. Moving from a simple base as a very good Internet search engine, Google, using excessive market capitalisation that had some people talking of a second 'dotcom' era, proceeded to

' Make available Google Maps, raising ire among some countries at the easy availability of satellite imagery of military facilities
' Became evidence in a criminal court case in USA, where Google searches on the words 'neck' and 'snap' became part of criminal evidence, raising substantial privacy issues
' Released Google desktop, with cookies allowing customization of news alerts and further raising privacy concerns
' Released Google Print, a plan to make available on line literary works, raising copyright concerns
' Began rolling out city wide free wireless networks in towns such as Mountain View, California, posing enormous challenges for those who would regulate telephony and broadcast facilities and support the economic viability of legacy broadcast and telephony models

And much more. This was the year that Google posed new challenges for regulators.

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PRESIDENTIAL MEDALS OF FREEDOM FOR CERF AND KAHN

President George W. Bush announced both Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA's highest civil award.

Established by Executive Order 11085 in 1963, the Medal may be awarded by the President 'to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.' President Bush honored the recipients at a White House ceremony on Wednesday, November 9, 2005.

The citation read 'Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn designed the software code that is used to transmit data over the Internet. Dr. Cerf and Dr. Kahn have been at the forefront of a digital revolution that has transformed global commerce, communication, and entertainment'.

Other recipients included Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett, Robert Conquest, Aretha Franklin, Alan Greenspan, Andy Griffith, and Jack Nicklaus

Both Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn deserve the highest accolades for their contributions. No two people have made greater contributions.

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And that was the year that was. Did we miss anything significant? If so, let us know (mailto:feedback@nethistory.info)

We'll be back next year. In the meantime, we wish you all the best for the festive season.



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