Conference aims

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Fearing commercial interests may co-opt cyberspace, scores of educators, activists and computer professionals gathered Saturday to marshal forces in a battle against privatizing the Internet.
The two-day meeting, organized by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, is aimed at bringing together dozens of organizations with a stake in cyberspace.
“Like it or not, decisions are being made, strategies are being set up that will determine how we interact as a society, and it’s not just a matter of getting government out of the way,” said Harry Hochheiser, director at large for CPSR, based in Palo Alto, Calif.
Among the topics at the two-day conference was a Clinton administration proposal that would largely hand over management of Internet addresses, or domain names, to a nonprofit corporation yet to be formed.
The public has about a week to comment on the plan before a decision is made by the White House.
Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, an expert in cyberspace law, criticized the plan. He said it places critical decisions about Internet development in the hands of a commercially minded corporation with a potentially self-perpetuating board.
Such an entity is unlikely to pay much heed to democratic values such as privacy, free speech and due process, he said.
“If government doesn’t protect those values, who will?” he said.
Lessig also spoke of the broad challenges facing policy makers.
“We’re building the most significant jurisdiction since the Louisiana Purchase, but it’s outside of the control of traditional constitutional values,” Lessig said.