A consortium of 16 Internet and telephone companies including BT, Novell, Oracle and Visa International, are lobbying world governments to ensure the Internet stays open and free from security breaches.
The consortium, known as the Global Internet Project (GIP), is headed by Netscape's CEO Jim Clark and aims to prise the Internet away from threatened government control.
Clark is known to oppose Bill Clinton's Communications Decency Act and is one of many within the group who is prepared to fight any attempts to control the Internet.
John Gerdelman, president of network services and vice chairman of GIP, said: "Every day we're growing concerned about various countries that are trying to regulate the Internet. Although many of GIP's member companies are fierce competitors in the marketplace, we recognise the need to work together to ensure these myriad regulations do not stifle the growth of this important new medium.
"In short, working together we can be the rising tide that lifts all boats for extending the benefits of the Internet worldwide," he added.
Larry Bloch, managing director of Net Benefit, a UK ISP, welcomed the new group in principle. "If they can make this work across geographic boundaries it must be supported. As the Internet becomes more commercial, it will negate the need for government influence to control threats such as pornography and so on. This project is a step towards that commercialisation," he commented.
GIP plans to provide the industry with reports on the Internet's potential to create jobs, as well as its impact on commerce and society. It is also committed "to educating government officials, national legislatures and other organisations that influence Internet policy decisions".
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