Two recent examples of why, as a country, you should always try to take the lead on technological innovation.
The first comes from the recent ICANN decision on allowing “.anything” domain names. A US organization decides what is possible or not for the internet, puts a process in place that will force all the world’s companies to bid for their own names at the price of 185’000$ a pop. Most countries must be wishing they had more input on the way the internet’s address system is working.
The organization that governs the Domain Name System, ICANN, voted this week to launch the new application process for an unlimited number of new top-level domains, despite lingering doubts and objections from trademark owners and others. This has been controversial, first, because many believe that ICANN has failed to justify the need for new top-level domains; second, because some fear that an explosion of new registries will threaten internet security; and third, because of the vast headaches it will cause brand owners who will face increased costs of monitoring and dealing with cybersquatting. ICANN‘s press release calls the development “historic” and “one of the biggest changes ever to the Internet’s Domain Name System.”
The second example comes from the list of content removal requests from governments Google received over the past semester. LeMonde has interesting facts on the rate of approval these requests receive.
The US dominate the rankings, with 4061 requests of which 94% received a response. Brazil is second, with 1804 requests of which 76% received a partial or complete answer, followed by India with 1699 requests (79% of response), UK (1162 requests, 72% response) and France (1021 requests, 56% responses).
If Google was French, would the government have more success on its requests, from 56% up to what the US get (94%)? Probably.
This shows again that for governments, it is critical to understand the impact of technology much faster, because these tools inevitably end up having an effect on our daily lives. Innovating is the only way to “control” progress. It reminds me of the old law of online conversation: you can’t control it, so improve it. Become a better voice to become the voice that will be in charge tomorrow. Let’s hope this important lesson of the first phase of the digital revolution will be learned.