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The Internet and Silicon Valley companies could be under serious threat from proposals being considered half way around the world in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), kicking off today, where some nations will consider international rules governing the Internet.  At the global UN conference, representatives of some national governments are expected to lobby for international governance of Internet services and infrastructure and advocate for proposals that could have far reaching effects and give individual governments more power over the role of the Internet in their respective countries.  

We at CALinnovates have been following this global summit closely and do not take it lightly.  Last week we convened an all-star panel of academics and tech experts at Stanford Law School for a panel titled “Sticky WCIT: Is This the End of the Internet?” to discuss the implications of the UN conference.  There, panelists, including Ambassador David Gross, discussed the global summit and its consequences for the future of the Internet, the global economy, and Silicon Valley’s prosperity.  

Our star-studded panel was fired up on the issue—coming together in agreement that we must protect the existing multi-stakeholder approach to regulating Internet services and infrastructure that has been critical to maintaining a free and open Internet, encouraging private investment, and supporting innovation and free flowing ideas.  

“We’re not regulatory Usain Bolts,” observed panelist Larry Irving, noting that the best approach is to avoid regulation of the Internet because government rules can’t keep up with the sprinting pace of evolving technology.

Ambassador David Gross warned of the ramifications of international governments imposing regulations on the Internet that could suffocate innovation stating, “Predicting the future never works, especially for governments.”  

Google Policy Counsel of Open Internet Patrick Ryan added, "A free and open Internet is the platform for free expression.”  Ryan homed in on the importance of protecting Internet freedom, free speech and opposing increased censorship.  

The event raised awareness about the implications of WCIT and encouraged Silicon Valley leaders to pay close attention to and engage with global actions and federal policies regulating the Internet.  Internet regulations considered in Dubai and in D.C. can be a direct threat to Silicon Valley’s prosperity and our nation’s digital future.

You can watch a full recording of the Sticky WCIT panel discussion here.  

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