The Internet in Uproar over ITU

Calm down, everyone.  What is really going on at the WCIT Dubai conference this year and who is the ITUGoogle and Facebook have gotten involved and the scrum is hitting the media machine. (Check out #FreeandOpen or look here.)  It may be a moment in world history to savor when the WSJ, civil libertarians, and the European Parliament are speaking in concert.  This approach has been taken at other times by feminists, family traditionalists, MNCs, NGOs, and a host of others.  Globalized democracy at its latest, though perhaps not finest.

The WSJ makes a fair point about letting an international organization run the web, when non-governmental have to date been the key players:

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.Many of the engineers and developers who built and operate these networks belong to virtual committees and task forces coordinated by an international nonprofit called the Internet Society. The society is home to the Internet Engineering Task Force the main provider of global technical standards and other volunteer groups such as the Internet Architecture Board and the Internet Research Task Force. Another key nongovernmental group is Icann, which assigns Internet addresses and domain names.

via Crovitz: The U.N.s Internet Sneak Attack – WSJ.com.

Its not that the principle of global coordination is the core issue as your Facebook friends might have you believe . Treaties and international bodies coordinate (and dare we say ‘regulate’) intellectual property, air travel, weather and other global commons issues with modest to great success.

The real question is the same one that dogs the HRC.  What will Russia, China and Iran do at the helm?  With a lack of agreed-upon standards across nations how can an international org that is setup to do their bidding be anything but a tool for whoever chairs the panel or writes the guidelines?

The WCIT conference will consider revisions to a 1988 treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations.  At the meeting, 193 member nations consider dozens of proposed amendments, including several that would bring the Internet under ITU jurisdiction and substantially change the architecture and governance of the Internet.  Other proposals would, if adopted, give countries including Russia, China, and Iran UN sanctioned-authority to monitor and censor incoming and outgoing Internet traffic under the guise of improving “security.”

via forbes.com | UN Agency’s Leaked Playbook: Panic, Chaos over Anti-Internet Treaty

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6 Responses to The Internet in Uproar over ITU

  1. troytessem says:

    The ITU will be unable to regulate the internet. It isn’t possible. At least not with how capable so many people are in regards to hacking and bypassing security walls. The majority of younger people are not going to accept such regulations or taxation, and they are by far the more capable when it comes to being technologically savvy. Can you imagine what “anonymous” would do to the ITU if it tried? UN internet sites and databases would be shut down from hackers. I guess the reason I have so much trust in the reaction of groups like anonymous is because they have pretty much should how skilled they are with banking sites and even the U.S. government.

    Here is a list of their activities
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_events_associated_with_Anonymous

    And here is an account of them hacking over 28,000 pay pal accounts.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/05/anonymous-paypal-28000-password-hack-guy-fawkes-day_n_2076587.html

    In sum, not only would this be devastating to the world economy, to freedom as a whole and to the development of our future, but it would drive mass chaos on the internet and actually give incentives for groups like anonymous to become more skilled at attacking governments.

  2. ludimilasdp says:

    This, from the story, outlines perfectly and succinctly exactly what the United States’ message to the UN and the ITU should be. As a nation dedicated to liberty, Americans need to stand for liberty and freedom of speech. If Americans are willing to fight for liberty physically, they should also have the courage to fight for liberty in ways such as this where there are no costs other than attention to these issues and the attendance at such conferences where leaders stand up for liberty and justice.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/un-seek-control-internet_664018.html

  3. joshuacordon says:

    Considering the fact that SOPA was so heavily opposed by the American people it seems to me that that should be enough to encourage those who represent America on the global stage to oppose this blatant attack on internet freedom. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Just earlier this month it was reported that President Obama is considering one of the biggest supporters of SOPA, Howard Berman, to be his new Secretary of State. For American who desire internet freedom, he is undoubtedly to worse candidate for the job.
    http://mashable.com/2012/11/13/obama-howard-berman-sopa/

  4. I completely agree that control of the internet shouldn’t be handed over to countries that restrict freedom of speech and are already trying to block citizens from visiting foreign sites. One thing I find lacking in the arguments for handing regulation over to the ITU is a good reason why that should happen. Simply because there are already many things being watched over by the UN, the WTO, or other international organizations, it doesn’t mean that they must watch over everything. Looking at why countries want to control the internet, it is interesting to see that while some of these are worthwhile causes, allowing the UN to control the internet doesn’t mean they would be solves (cyber-terrorism for instance). Here is a BBC article talking about the US stance as opposed to Russia.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19106420
    It also linked to this document stating exactly what Russia wants to be changed in the treaty:
    http://files.wcitleaks.org/public/Russia%2040.pdf

  5. cheholmes5 says:

    I agree with the first comment that it would be extremely difficult to regulate the internet without being hacked. I would also add that basic economic principles apply here, that any governmental intervention causes inefficiencies. We know this would be the case here. Also, as was stated in previous comments, cyber-terrorism would not necessarily be solved due to the ITU regulation. People would bypass and encrypt messages anyway. The other issue I see here as well is the underlying motives of the countries who control the ITU and what they could pass to restrict free speech and how they could impose their agendas and ideas, especially if these countries have shady/corrupt governments themselves. The following is a link talking about how this new regulation would be counterproductive to growth especially in developing countries

    http://www.theafricareport.com/20120930501819230/technology/expert-itu-internet-regulation-proposal-is-counterproductive-to-growth.html

  6. Turning regulation of the Internet over to government bodies is patently absurd; the WSJ had it right to compare it to handing a stradivarius to a violin. I remember watching the SOPA debates as Jason Chaffetz recommended that Congress invite some “nerds” to Congress to explain to them whether or not SOPA was dangerous. It took five of the eight largest sites on the Internet completely shutting down for a day to get it through to them that altering DNS settings based on takedown requests was and is an awful, awful idea. The Internet Governance Forum consists of more explaining concepts to representatives (that seem to go right over heads) than actually discussing the Internet.

    Regulatory bodies to control the Internet already exist: the W3C (http://www.w3.org/), ICANN (http://www.icann.org/) , the IANA (http://www.iana.org/) and the ISOC (https://www.internetsociety.org/) all fulfill very, very specific and distinct roles. They’re all run by very, very intelligent people, and for the most part they do a very, very good job. Any governmental body of random representatives put together to manage any aspect of this would be absolutely put to shame by what already exists; they would break more than they would fix. So why create one?

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