But a Canadian telecom analyst dismissed the call to action as “motherhood statements.”
“There’s enough buzz words in there,” said Goldberg, “that I think all the competing interests may find that they’re able to find inspiration in this document for support of their own positions as opposed to these really providing a lot of guidance.”
Based in Thornhill, Ont., Goldberg criticized a recommendation that affects the liability of Internet Service Providers for content on their networks as particularly misleading.
“When they have a headline that says `limit Internet intermediary liability’ on the surface you say `oh, my word! The OECD is weighing into this and choosing a side.’ But when you get into the text you can see that it talks the various arguments.”
The debate about how much legal responsibility ISPs bear for the data they carry isn’t any closer to being settled, he adds.
The 34-member global body was attempting to form a shared “Internet policy” that would protect online freedom, at least amongst themselves. Most elements of the policy were easy enough to agree on: for example, that innovation and creativity are good for business.
But they also tackled the touchy subject of government intrusion into the Internet. A pressing concern has been the extent to which government should intervene—and potentially restrict—access and use of the Internet.
OECD broached the issue somewhat delicately in its press release that accompanied the report, saying that “there have been instances where relatively heavy-handed government initiatives have been viewed as leading to potential harm.”
The definition of what constitutes improper behavior by law enforcement is a difficult topic for many countries, Goldberg said.
“Who can authorize certain things? Well, we say `the courts.’ Other countries may say, `well, the national security apparatus, which is the kind of code language people use for internal spy services. But if we authorize police to do, in effect, a digital wiretap … what’s the difference between our government authorities using our mechanisms of government and another country’s?”
Goldberg added that he would have liked to have sat in on the actual meeting, especially to hear what positions Canada articulated.
OECD members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.