Senior Policy Counsel, Microsoft, Author, and Metzger-Conway Fellow
Free the Internet?
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.
Governments around the world are pressuring internet-related companies to comply with local laws that arguably conflict with internationally recognized human rights of freedom of expression and privacy. How should companies like Microsoft respond
In the early 1960s, the United States government wanted to create a network that would allow officials to exchange classified scientific and military information on research and development. With concerns about the Cold War and a fear of the Soviet Union’s technological capabilities, those in command needed a communications system that would function during and after a nuclear attack.
In response to this situation, the government established the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a “galactic” computer network. Officially called ARPANET, this new system employed the theory of packet switching, where encoded messages are broken up into small pieces and transmitted over a channel, which formed the basis of internet connections. At first, ARPANET was connected to only four major computers at universities in the western United States (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, and the University of Utah). Initially limited to only research, education and government purposes, it would take the next 20 years for the internet to adapt to commercial and personal use.
Today, it is difficult to imagine life without the internet. In 2008, 74 percent of the population of the United States and 22 percent of the population of the world used the internet. The basic networking system has morphed into the largest and most complex communication device in history.
Chuck Cosson ’88, senior policy counsel at Microsoft Corporation, is an advisor on public policy matters. Cosson contributes in a number of substantive areas; including children’s safety, free expression/human rights, telecoms/media policy, and regulation of new media services. He also supports Microsoft’s policy communications work and its citizenship and corporate social responsibility initiatives, with an emphasis on privacy, safety and security.
Prior to joining Microsoft in 2004, Cosson was vice president for public policy in Vodafone’s Americas/Asia region, where he led the company’s public policy efforts in the U.S. and contributed to policy and corporate social responsibility work in China, Japan, Mexico, Canada and Brazil. He was also chair of the policy team at the Liberty Alliance. Before Vodafone, Cosson worked on public policy matters at AirTouch Communications and at the United States Telephone Association in Washington, D.C.
Cosson has published a novel entitled Whitewash, a political satire written under the pseudonym Erik Blair. Cosson graduated cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy from Dickinson College and received a J.D., with honors, from the George Washington University law school.