The man stopping Vladimir Putin from taking over the Internet

Politico reports: Daniel Sepulveda just might be the closest thing the United States has to an “Ambassador to the Internet.” And the 42-year-old is in the middle of a tricky battle.

Some countries, including behemoths China and Russia, as well as smaller countries with few resources, are starting to argue that the loose way the Internet is run leans too heavily in the U.S.’s favor. Their solution: Shift regulation of the Internet to the world stage, perhaps to the United Nations, where they might have more control.

That runs counter to the official position of the Obama administration. And that’s where Sepulveda comes in and what keeps the deputy assistant secretary of state and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy airborne much of the time, flying to Dubai, Costa Rica, Cuba or South Korea as the administration’s pitch man.

The Internet’s evolution should be decided “organically, by participants in the network,” Sepulveda argues, “as opposed to by governments or intermediaries.”

He’s willing to acknowledge that the current, somewhat ad hoc system of regulation — where geeks, not governments, get to vote — needs reforming. But it mostly works, as it allows for what Sepulveda calls “as little friction as possible” as information and ideas move around the world. Binding the future of the Internet to the U.N. threatens to upset a way of doing things that has produced, in the Internet, a global force unlike the world has ever seen.

The complicated part, though, is that Sepulveda and his colleagues have to sell that government-hands-off-the-Internet policy while also being high-ranking appointees of a government which has been accused of using the Internet to allegedly spy on its own citizens, as well as on world leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and Brazil’s Dilma Rouseff. [Continue reading…]

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