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Turning the Internet Over to Our Good Friends At the United Nations

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Bloviating Zeppelin: Turning the Internet Over to Our Good Friends At the United Nations

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turning the Internet Over to Our Good Friends At the United Nations

I recently made a comment over on Revka's Take (go take a peek right now!) and happened to mention the internet and its possible subsequent control by the United Nations -- which made me want to discuss the issue here and now.

You realize, of course, there is a push to wrest "control" of the internet from the United States and turn same over to the United Nations, don't you? Once again, it is a matter of the evil, acerbic, judgmental, uncultured US holding domain over a technology that clearly should fall under the loving, understanding and compassionate umbrella of the wise, efficient and uncorruptible United Nations. This is a long quote, from Britain's The Guardian, but worth reading:

Breaking America's grip on the net; after troubled negotiations in Geneva, the US may be forced to relinquish control of the internet to a coalition of governments (Thursday October 6, 2005).

The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.

And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to run it.

But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.

I would submit that this should never be done. Never. Ever. It's the oldest story in politics and bureucracies: take from the producers (the US essentially invented the internet by way of our military ARPANET) and distribute to the non-producers (what has the world done besides prosper and change as the result of this incredible invention and philosophy of the total freedom of information?).

As an aside here: one LARGE reason I like the internet? It is an incredible playing-field "leveler." That is to say, my website can be every bit as attractive (if I had the technological capability) as that of, say, the mega-corporate GM website. It's all ones and zeroes.

The Christian Science Monitor nails it on the head when it writes:

The free flow of ideas and commerce, so key to the Internet's exponential growth, would not be well served if hobbled by bureaucracy or chilled by governments interested in suppressing dissident voices.

It continues:

If international demands for less US control boil over, other countries could employ a "nuclear option" - setting up a rival to ICANN and potentially creating chaos on the Internet with two divergent standards.

That need not happen. International governance of the Internet does have an inescapable logic. Better that the US engage vigorously now in shaping that institution, even as it realizes that handing off control to it is nowhere in the immediate future.

Why does the world see this as simply another example of arrogant US unilateralism? Hiawatha Bray at The Boston Globe responds:

To understand why, you need only consider that the international talks over the future of the root server network, to be held next month in Tunisia, are sponsored by the United Nations. That's right -- there's a plan afoot to put critical Internet infrastructure under the control of the UN -- the same outfit that has given us the Iraq oil-for-food scandal and a child prostitution ring in Congo. It's hard to see why an agency so steeped in corruption should be given oversight of the computers that serve as the Internet's chief traffic cops.

My point, as a conservative, primarily revolves around money and, more importantly: taxes. What will a controlling UN authority do with the massive tax potential of something as far-reaching as the internet? The Globe continues:

Then there's the prospect of an international Internet tax, with money going to fund technology development in developing countries. The UN has been pushing this idea since 1999. A UN-controlled ICANN might dramatically jack up the cost of Internet addresses in affluent countries like the United States to raise money for its development fund. And Americans would have little say over how this money is spent.

Okay, so we don't hand control of the internet to the UN? What's the downside? Some Bush administration critics say that a refusal to turn over control will cause other countries to set up their own separate versions of the internet, in essence making two separate nets. So what? Who really cares? "If it doesn't connect to the ''real" Internet, it's useless. If it does connect to the ''real" Internet, who cares?"

At least the Bush Administration is making an overt attempt to keep control in the US, as it is backing Senator Norm Coleman's (R, Minnesota) resolution to support ICANN. Coleman said "The Internet is likely to face a grave threat" at the Tunisian World Summit. "If we fail to respond appropriately, we risk the freedom and enterprise fostered by this informational marvel and end up sacrificing access to information, privacy and protection of intellectual property we have all depended on." Luckily, support appears to be bipartisan as similar support has already come from both senior Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Human rights issues. Taxation issues. Oversight and final control issues. I tend to be proprietary; but let's put the shoe on the other foot. What if the internet were "invented" and first placed into usage by scientists and the military minds of France. And let's say the US and Canada decided we wanted to wrest control and place it under our collective monitoring and final authority.

What would the rest of the world say about that decision?

Bottom line? No matter what the US does, it will likely be despised on any number of levels for any number of real (and primarily imagined) slights. We should, therefore, keep doing what we're doing -- to the continued benefit of all persons hooked online, no matter the country, ethnicity or religion.


Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

10 26 05

Thx for tackling this issue Blo Zep. I am so angered by the very thought! They wanna commondere (bad spelling!) everything we have created! Whether they are suing Microsoft (stupid and lame due to jealousy of technological prowess) or trying to take away something that we all depend on. ARHHGH! These commies are trying to kill us! :)

Wed Oct 26, 09:21:00 AM PDT  
Blogger DirtCrashr said...

It's simply and typically the UN reading from the pages of its own special Bible-By-Marx in order to take, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs!" We have the creativity and ability, and they need to take it away and appropriate it.

Wed Oct 26, 09:49:00 AM PDT  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

First, we turn over the canal to Panama. Now, we turnover the information super highway to a group of dictators. Fantastic! We will all have to put unicef donation links to keep our blogs.

Wed Oct 26, 10:58:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Eddie said...

I was watching "13 days" the other day, and I think it was summed up best,

"Why does the rest of the free world hate America?"

"It's b/c we have tupperware parties." (exactly, who knows?)

The good news is, our invention will never be taken over by the U.N.

Wed Oct 26, 01:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

The internet in the hands of the UN. Can you think of a worse possibility? Perhaps I can: placing the United States under the banner of a World UN Court. . .

BWH: I'm sure you checked out the list of countries "unhappy" with our control. . .

I'll never forgive Carter for giving away the Panama Canal, and for allowing the influx of Marielitos.

Let them build another internet and we'll see how many flock to its gate. . .

Wed Oct 26, 02:24:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Behind closed doors at the October 24-28 intersessional, the self-styled "representatives of the peoples of the world" are now negotiating language such as:

"[5. We reaffirm article 19, paragraph 3, of the International covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, and it may therefore be subject to certain restrictions provided by law for respect of the rights or reputations of others and for the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.]"

It is time for the elected representatives of the people of the United States of America to speak up in Congress assembled and firmly declare our resolve to uphold our Constitution. Our bill of rights, and our cherished first amendment are not to be negotiated away at any Palais. Death to tyrants.

Wed Oct 26, 08:47:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Anonymous: I checked your links; definitely worth reading VERY carefully. Thank you for those important sites. Our rights are NOT EVER to be negotiated away; nor should ANY SCOTUS justice use any foreign country's legal system or societal system as a benchmark for OURS.

Fri Oct 28, 05:15:00 AM PDT  

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