Dr. Henning Schulzrinne, inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2013 for co-developing the Real-Time Streaming Protocol, Real-Time Transport Protocol and other key protocols that enabled Voice-Over-Internet technology, is a true exemplar of “scholarship in action.” As a technical adviser to the United States’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as a professor of computer science at Columbia University, he spends part of his time in New York teaching aspiring computer scientists, and the remainder in Washington D.C. advising the FCC on telecommunication policy so that it encourages innovation in technology. Schulzrinne tends to speak in a way that has “engineer” written all over it: precisely and without hesitation. If he says he’s going to give you four examples, he’ll give you four, not three and not five, and his train of thought never seems to run off the track. When the Internet Hall of Fame editorial staff caught up with him recently, he apologized for being three minutes late, but the FCC building he works in had just had a fire drill, and everyone had to go outside and stand around for a while. When we finally were able to chat, we found his conversation eminently worth waiting for. Here’s what he said about both of his jobs.
When Henning Schulzrinne was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, he took some time to consider the future of the Internet and the challenges it faces, including security, privacy and freedom of expression.
In this video, shot during the induction ceremony weekend in Berlin in August 2013, he shares his thoughts on the impact these challenges will have on business and government. He highlights the growth of mobile devices and improvements in Internet speed and availability, and goes on to add that with these advancements comes security challenges. As Schulzrinne says, “It’s hard for individuals to keep up with security.”
When asked about which action ensures the best possible future for the Internet, he stresses the importance of an open Internet. He goes on to add that his other big concern is the lack of funding for network research in both the public and private sectors. He stresses this could have long-term effects on future Internet advancements.
The interview was recorded by the Imagining the Internet Center, an initiative of Elon University, North Carolina, USA.
The Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization based in Washington DC, recently interviewed Vint Cerf for its Tech Tank. During the discusssion, Cerf shared his thoughts on net neutrality, Internet penetration and the “digital dark age.”
When the Internet Hall of Fame asked South African inductee Anriette Esterhuysen to name one of her favorite Internet initiatives, she replied that, “as Africans we care about the Internet, and not only about getting access to it. We also care about how, and by whom, it is governed, and this is precisely where AfriSIG tries to contribute.” The African School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG), which was first held in 2013, was created to get African countries to participate in all aspects of Internet Governance -- technical, social and political. Before this, few African countries had established sustainable open and inclusive policy discussion forums where government, civil society, businesses and technical people were able to interact effectively and collaborate to develop consistent national and institutional strategies aimed at mobilising the Internet for economic, social and political cultural development. To date, AfriSIG has yielded 85 graduates from 20 African countries.
As executive director of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Anriette Esterhuysen of South Africa works to make the Internet a safer, freer and more equal place for women, minority groups and people in the world’s developing regions. Recently she spoke with the Internet Hall of Fame about human rights and the intersection of the feminist and Internet-freedom movements. Here’s part of that conversation.
Q. What do you believe are the biggest Internet-related human rights challenges today?
A. One of the biggest tensions is the one between the people’s need for a public space to talk about politics, gender issues, or anything else they might want to talk about, and the governments that are trying to control that space. But it’s not just governments that are trying to control it: it’s also private businesses. For example, Internet.org, an initiative of Facebook, would give people access to the Internet only through Facebook, a private company. That’s an encroachment on the possibilities of the Internet, which is unacceptable. So, freedom of expression can be limited by governments, but also by business.