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Western countries are up in arms about the World Conference on International Telecommunications which is to be held in Dubai in December.

Reason? Horror of horrors, countries that have gained some measure of political power over the last decade or so are looking to effect changes in the current model of internet governance.

Thus far, the US has held sway, showing the world the face of openness and censorship as its whims go. And when US power is challenged, its foot-soldiers are always there to offer support.

Australia is no laggard in this respect - when the US says jump, the only response is "how high?"

Thus it is no coincidence that Canberra will play host to a two-day conference titled the Australian Internet Governance Forum from tomorrow.

Strangely, the media release announcing this conference does not list any other "danger" to the so-called open internet other than the desire of countries like Russia and China to regulate aspects of the worldwide network.

Moves by Australian police to bring in curbs on sites like Facebook and Twitter - under rather transparent ruses - do not merit a mention. Neither does the Australian government's plan to retain all users' web data for two years - God forbid that that should be considered a danger to an open network.

But then this kind of hypocrisy is not novel - as seen here, the US can be a model of openness when an international treaty is not one that it likes. Its approach to the ITU and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement could not be more different.

The Canberra event is jointly convened by auDA, the Internet Industry Association, the Australian chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-AU), the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC). It also has industry support from partners including Google, Facebook, iiNet, AusRegistry and Maddocks.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.