Internet activists will this week make an 11th-hour attempt to stop governments seizing more control of the Web that has fuelled Arab revolutions, enabled mass leaks of U.S. diplomatic cables and allowed online piracy to thrive.
The Internet Governance Forum that begins in Nairobi on Tuesday brings together companies, non-profit groups, academics, engineers, government representatives and ordinary citizens.
They hope to show they are best placed to write the rules of the road ahead for the World Wide Web, an increasingly important driver of economic growth in a world on the brink of recession.
In a study published this year, consultancy McKinsey found the Internet accounted for 21 percent of GDP growth in mature countries, and that almost $8 trillion changes hands through e-commerce each year.
“Stronger influence of governments seems inevitable. The Internet has simply become too important for them to ignore it. They prefer a top-down approach,” Markus Kummer of the Internet Society, which campaigns for the open Internet, told a recent London seminar.