Jointly sponsored by Harvard’s Berkman Center and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, the Net Dialogue project explores ways to build democracy into the emerging international framework for governing the networked world. Acting through intergovernmental organizations, governments have been setting and administering international rules that treat not just the infrastructure of the Internet and related networks, but also people’s activities over these networks (together referred to as the “Net” here). Observing the increase in these common approaches to Net challenges, one might ask: Do these treaties, standards, and guidelines expand the reach of government? What mechanisms are in place to prevent corruption? Are decision-makers accountable to the public? Are fundamental freedoms guaranteed? Do these decisions entail changes to the very architecture of the Internet?
In light of these challenges, the Net Dialogue project aims to: 1. Shed light on international Net governance; 2. Foster dialogue between technologists and the international policymaking community; and 3. Offer concrete suggestions for ways to build democratic mechanisms into the architecture of the networked world. Guiding this work is a conviction that governance in the networked world should support subsidiarity (i.e. governance at the most local level practicable), checks and balances, the separation of powers, and universal human rights – including privacy, the right to receive and impart information, the right to assemble, and the right to hold beliefs freely.
This project is supported in part by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.