Book launch event: The myth-busting IGF book – “Busted! 50 internet myths and why they are wrong” by Matthias C. Kettemann and Stephan Dreyer

27 Nov 2019 13:30h - 14:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

At the book launch of ‘Busted! 50 internet myths and why they are wrong’ by Matthias C. Kettemann and Stephan Dreyer, the authors explained its background and what they hoped the book would bring to the discussion on the Internet, its development, and use. 

Mr Matthias C. Katteman (Author, Teaching and research fellow at the Institute of International Law and International Relations, University of Graz) explained what led them to write about Internet myths. He explained that myths are seductive shortcuts of cognitive engagement that cater for – and accelerate – the laziness among citizens and norm-makers. To debunk these myths leads to the broadening of our norms. He elaborated that although norms can be flexible, facts must never be so. To develop the capacity of policy-making on the Internet, leaders must dare to think and make a distinction between facts and myths.

Several myths from the book were introduced during the event. As to the rights and rules of the Internet, it touched upon the myths that ‘what people do on the Internet cannot be regulated’ and that ‘Internet platforms are not liable for user-generated content’. These two myths highlight the thinking of impunity towards the Internet and businesses that runs on it. However, Katteman explained that this deprives us of our ability to demand an appropriate regulation and the application of law. In regards to cybersecurity, the fear that ‘cyberwar is coming’ is demystified by emphasising that cyber-attacks are happening everyday and everywhere, which is already part of our new reality. Furthermore, the myth ‘the best cyber defense is a good cyber offense’ was mentioned as an invalid argument because the use or threat of pre-emptive offensive cyber capabilities does not deter adversaries from the actor.

The Internet as an empowering tool and level-fielder is also a commonly recognised notion, however, the book unfolded a different perspective on it. The myth ‘the Internet is an emancipatory tool to end all discrimination’ goes against reality, where hate speech online proliferates, and online discrimination and harrassment against marginalised populations, such as women, racial minorities, and persons with a disability, still prevail. Since the innovations surrounding cloud-sourced data and information increase its visibility, the illusion ‘the Internet is in the clouds’ also strengthens, despite the fact that the Internet is built on a complex architecture. We need to focus more on this fact because access to a stable and secure infrastructure is a challenge to the developing world, hindering them from fully benefiting from the Internet developments.

To continue to unravel the Internet myths, Katteman emphasised that the multistakeholder and multidisciplinary approach is necessary. This approach leads the international community closer to the accomplishment of the theme of the IGF this year: One World, One Net, and One Vision.

By Nagisa Miyachi