Oxford Internet Institute founder sets up internet think tank

Former MP and founder of the Oxford Internet Institute Derek Wyatt is setting up the Internet Policy Institute (IPI), a high-level think tank to advise governments on developing networking policies.

Former MP and founder of the Oxford Internet Institute Derek Wyatt is setting up the Internet Policy Institute (IPI), a high-level think tank to advise governments on developing networking policies.

Issues that need addressing, he said, include the universal right of access to the internet, the balance between privacy and the right to information, freedom of speech, taxation of the internet, what constitutes cybercrime, and the cross-border pursuit of cybercriminals.

Wyatt told delegates on the all-party parliamentary committee on communications (ApComm) that there was a need for a new neutral forum to debate emerging issues such as the blurring of foreign policy and international commerce. The key event here was Google's decision not to inform secretary of state Hillary Clinton before it closed its China portal, he said.

Similarly, Blackberry maker Research in Motion's troubles over its encryption policies had brought it into conflict with governments in India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, he said.

The IPI would provide a court of arbitration to deal with cases such as Rim's difficulties, and also with Sky's suit against Skype for its use of the word "Skype", and a similar Facebook suit against Teachbook.com. All three lent themselves to arbitration rather than the courthouse, he said.

Wyatt hoped newly elected governments would use the IPI to update themselves quickly on hot internet topics so that their legislation did not look back to old problems but forward to emerging ones.

He said the IPI would also look to commission research on hot topics such as net neutrality, rural broadband, public sector applications, and cloud computing.

Wyatt proposed to set up an international country guide to internet regulation, and to become a first port of call for governments on internet issues.

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