Monday, November 26, 2012

United Nations Wants to Control the Internet, It's "Like Handing a Stradivarius to a Gorilla" Says WSJ

In addition to the UN-operated drones, we may get the UN-managed Internet. Good luck, people.

From Wall Street Journal's Gordon Crovitz (11/25/2012):

Who runs the Internet? For now, the answer remains no one, or at least no government, which explains the Web's success as a new technology. But as of next week, unless the U.S. gets serious, the answer could be the United Nations.

Many of the U.N.'s 193 member states oppose the open, uncontrolled nature of the Internet. Its interconnected global networks ignore national boundaries, making it hard for governments to censor or tax. And so, to send the freewheeling digital world back to the state control of the analog era, China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are trying to hijack a U.N. agency that has nothing to do with the Internet.

For more than a year, these countries have lobbied an agency called the International Telecommunications Union to take over the rules and workings of the Internet. Created in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, the ITU last drafted a treaty on communications in 1988, before the commercial Internet, when telecommunications meant voice telephone calls via national telephone monopolies.

Next week the ITU holds a negotiating conference in Dubai, and past months have brought many leaks of proposals for a new treaty. U.S. congressional resolutions and much of the commentary, including in this column, have focused on proposals by authoritarian governments to censor the Internet. Just as objectionable are proposals that ignore how the Internet works, threatening its smooth and open operations.

Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla. The Internet is made up of 40,000 networks that interconnect among 425,000 global routes, cheaply and efficiently delivering messages and other digital content among more than two billion people around the world, with some 500,000 new users a day.


Google has started an online petition for a "free and open Internet" saying: "Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future." The State Department's top delegate to the Dubai conference, Terry Kramer, has pledged that the U.S. won't let the ITU expand its authority to the Internet. But he hedged his warning in a recent presentation in Washington: "We don't want to come across like we're preaching to others."

To the contrary, the top job for the U.S. delegation at the ITU conference is to preach the virtues of the open Internet as forcefully as possible. Billions of online users are counting on America to make sure that their Internet is never handed over to authoritarian governments or to the U.N.

(Full article at the link)

Dont want to come across like we're preaching to others?? It looks Mr. Kramer would rather fit in with the UN crowd. The US has had no problem spreading so-called democracy at gun-point (or by drone bombing) in many places in the world, increasingly so under the current regime. But it shies away from making the point in a peaceful manner. Interesting.

Mr. Crovitz says dictatorial governments like China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries want to control and censor the net. President Obama signed the executive order in July this year "to empower certain governmental agencies with control over telecommunications and the Web during natural disasters and security emergencies" (CNET). I have a feeling that China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are thinking about the same thing anyway, "natural disasters and security emergencies".

"Proposals for the new ITU treaty run to more than 200 pages", according to the article. I wonder who wrote it.

Here's the link to Google's Take Action page.


Maju said...

I prefer that it's in UN hands. The USA has simply too much unilateral power in this matter and may simply cut everyone off the Internet or whatever whenever they want. Better let the thing in the hands of a technical bureaucracy like the UN, without police nor ability to take such horrible decisions.

It's not true that nobody manages the Internet: the USA does in fact. This article is tendentious and wants to keep the Internet in US unilateral hands. UN agencies already manage post, telephone and other communications issues and there is absolutely no problem.

Anonymous said...

Maju, what I don't quite understand is that you live in Europe, and have seen what a disaster the management by the technocrats at the EU, ECB, IMF has been in the past 4 years at least, particularly for your country and other southern European countries. And you'd rather have UN "manage" the net?

Anonymous said...

The US isn't going to hand the internet over to the UN any more than they are going to give the UN control over US nuclear weapons.

"today, thanks to a document leaked to the Internet Governance Project, we have actual physical proof that there is no surreptitious plot afoot to give the ITU regulatory authority over the Internet. The document is the most recent working draft of the treaty that will be negotiated at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai in December.

This document provides an update to a 1988 treaty, parts of which have been rendered obsolete by technological advances. The outcome of that treaty conference has been the source of consternation among people who worry that it will be used as a pretext to give the ITU (and therefore the UN) control over the Internet.

However, if you read the document, you will find no such proposals! What you will see are proposals for things like giving priority to emergency communications and transparency in pricing schemes for mobile data.

Anonymous said...

Both sides of the US government are totally against the proposal probably because it would force transparency in pricing schemes and rich techno-douches depend on price obscurity to earn a living. They act like the world is going to demand a porn shutdown because they know it will get everybody up in arms. Saying the world wants transparent fair internet pricing will get people wondering how unfair the current pricing policy it is better to just say "The UN wants to control the Internet".

JAnonymous said...

Some people are living in a cave and judging the world by the shadows that are projected on the wall behind them, especially you, Maju. Nobody controls the Internet, and achieving such a feat is impossible.

Nobody runs the Internet. The Internet is the only example in the whole universe of something that is made by humans, benefits humans, and is free. Even the loons who made the bible had an agenda.

Truth is, many of the entities and non-profits that run the Internet have US origins. But please, everyone, stop confusing Internet and WWW (or worse, facebook). Lookup BGP, IGP, AS, and so on... That is the Internet. And even if .com is controlled by a dumb american company (Verisign) believing that charging people is the good way to have them trusted by everyone (yes, I am looking at you, Comodo&Diginotar), I could live happily anyday without any .coms if necessary.

As other people said above, this ITU thing is a revision of an old standard that described how charging works for international communications. Seeing how VOIP and Skype have utterly crushed this former niche, action is in order. However, it takes a worldwide bureaucracy to control an internet, but only a few geniuses to build a better one that escapes control.

The Internet is designed by the IETF: Internet Engineering Task Force. It is a consensus-driven assembly of technical people made partly of hippies, geniuses, morons and retards (see, everyone has a representative there). They are well aware of what will happen in Dubai and are mobilized plenty, to make sure that nothing stupid happens there. Actually, if something stupid happens, let's leave the UN (just like countries left the league of nations back then, or other countries plan on leaving EU or Eur0z0ne).

The IETF tao states : "We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code." This sentence alone governs the Internet, no UN/ITU/ISO/WTO/WhatEver needed, thank you.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

"We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code." This sentence alone governs the Internet, no UN/ITU/ISO/WTO/WhatEver needed, thank you.

Thank you JA.

Anonymous said...

Actually the internet is owned and operated by a handful of the largest communication companies on the planet. In the US companies like UUNET, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon own the backbone infrastructure the internet is based on. In countries like China's the government owns the domestic backbone. China has the world's largest internet presence with over 1/2 a billion users these people pay an average of $10-$20 a month for unlimited service US backbone owners don't want that to become common knowledge it is probably the same in other capitalist countries. I'm sure the capitalist countries will resist any attempts to clarify their billing structure since their profits are based on obfuscation and confusion. What really governs the internet in an open market is profits and any attempts to interfere with that will be treated like a "takeover attempt" by TPTB.

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