Sunday, December 16, 2012

Big Brother redux

I posted last week (The UN? Seriously?) about efforts afoot to put the Internet under the jurisdiction of International Telecommunication Union rules. The ITU at its just concluded meeting voted out a treaty to do just that. See "89 ITU members sign controversial UN telecom treaty."

"It won't regulate the Internet," the treaty's advocates say. Right.

When was the last time the US Congress was unanimous about anything? Last week! See "Congress declares opposition to UN takeover of the Internet."

The executive branch is on board, too. See "Ambassador says US 'cannot sign the ITU regulations in their current form.' " (And fifty-four countries joined the US in not signing.)
“Countries have national sovereignty rights—they can do what they want,” [U. S. Ambassador] Kramer said. “What we don't want over time is a set of global agreements that people can point to and say: ‘Listen, you know, this treaty gave us the right to impose these terms on global operators of some sort.’ We don't think that this will happen per se, it's not legally binding, but you don't want something to happen where people can think it is a binding term in a global environment.”
One Wall Street Journal columnist dubs this appalling turn of events "America's First Big Digital Defeat." As In:
The treaty document extends control over Internet companies, not just telecoms. It declares: "All governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance." This is a complete reversal of the privately managed Internet. Authoritarian governments will invoke U.N. authority to take control over access to the Internet, making it harder for their citizens to get around national firewalls. They now have the U.N.'s blessing to censor, monitor traffic, and prosecute troublemakers.

Internet users in still-open countries will be harmed, too. Today's smoothly functioning system includes 40,000 privately managed networks among 425,000 global routes that ignore national boundaries. Expect these networks to be split by a digital Iron Curtain. The Internet will become less resilient. Websites will no longer be global.
As per the above-mentioned congressional vote, this time our elected officials had our backs. Keep reminding them what Internet freedom means to you!

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