Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The UN? Seriously?

With far less visibility or press interest than was afforded the recently concluded Doha round of climate talks ("Kyoto Protocol extended in contentious U.N. climate talks"), moves are afoot to transfer governance of the Internet from volunteer and not-for-profit organizations to the UN's own International Telecommunication Union

When? Right now! It's a main topic of conversation at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai (through December 14th).

Why? Because some governments aren't big fans of the democratizing aspect of the present-day, free-wheeling Internet. (As in, from Russia Today, this article about "Russia calls for internet revolution." And we all know how well Russian revolutions have turned out ...)

Is anyone else interested in controlling the Internet? For one, there's Syria. There, amid the ongoing civil war / massacres, the government has already taken down (their part of) the Internet. (See "Syria’s Internet Blackout: How The Government Could Have Done It.")

Am I being alarmist? If so, I have company.

For example (from PC World), "European Parliament: Stop the ITU taking over the Internet." The EU Parliament passed a resolution that:
calls on the E.U. member states to prevent any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations that would be harmful to the openness of the Internet, net neutrality and freedom of expression.
The Wall Street Journal writes in "The U.N.'s Internet Sneak Attack" that:

Letting the Internet be rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla.

Google, not surprisingly, is also concerned about more Internet regulation. Check out their "Take Action" website, with the headline "A free and open world depends on a free and open web." As I write, more than three million people have expressed their support there. (And yes, I'm one of them.)

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers offers a calmer view -- which isn't to say they don't see issues. See "Paranoia Update: U.N. to Take Over the Internet." In this interview with the US's ambassador to the ITU talks, there's plenty (IMO) to be concerned about. And it's not only the number of countries eager to make the Internet easier to censor. There's also the notion of a global bureaucracy believing it can take increased responsibility for cyber security. Because the UN is known for being so nimble ...

Do you want to see more regulation of the Internet? See antidemocratic governments cracking down -- more than they already have -- on the Internet as a means of transparency and free expression? Let your elected representatives know how you feel!

No comments: