Russia, China and Arabs want to surrender Internet Control to United Nations

By JIM ALGAR | UPI | JUNE 4, 2012

The Internet could someday look very different and be less open and  free if a proposal for the International Telecommunications Union, an arm of the  United Nations, to take over management of the Internet comes to pass, critics  of the proposal say.

A growing movement led by China, Russia and some Arab states to  hand more control of the Web to the United Nations has U.S. lawmakers and  Internet companies warning of censorship, surveillance and taxes.

The ITU and its 93 member states will meet in Dubai in December to  reconsider a key 1988 communications treaty, with a number of foreign  governments arguing it needs to be updated as the influence of Internet  communications increases worldwide.

Advocates of a free and open Internet say that could create an  opening for countries where free speech and civil liberties are often harshly  suppressed to propose the United Nations establish a new “information security”  regime to replace ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and  Numbers, a non-profit U.S. organization serving as the Internet’s de facto  governing body since the late 1990s.

Federal Communications Commission member Robert McDowell has warned  that some ITU member countries seek to hobble the  open and free nature of the  Internet because it causes problems for dictatorships and autocracies.

“[L]et’s face it. Strong-arm regimes are threatened by popular  outcries for political freedom that are empowered by unfettered Internet  connectivity. They have formed impressive coalitions, and their efforts have  progressed significantly,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

A bipartisan group of U.S. congressional officials said they would  resist any change in the way the Internet is regulated and maintained.

Members of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee have  issued a resolution urging the U.S. government to maintain “the consistent and  unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from  government control and preserve and advance the successful multi-stakeholder  model that governs the Internet today.”

Committee member Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said U.N.-led control of  the Internet would affect Internet users around the world.

“The Internet has become this economic and social juggernaut not  because governmental actors willed it to be so, but because the government took  a step back and let the private sector drive its evolution,” he said.  “International regulatory intrusion into the Internet would have disastrous  results not just for the United States, but for people around the world.”

Vinton Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist and former chairman  of ICANN, addressing the congressional committee, said the ITU meeting could  lead to “top-down control dictated by governments” that could impact free  expression.

“Such proposals raise the prospect of policies that enable  government controls but greatly diminish the ‘permissionless innovation’ that  underlies extraordinary Internet-based economic growth, to say nothing of  trampling human rights,” he said.

“If all of us do not pay attention to what is going on, users  worldwide will be at risk of losing the open and free Internet that has brought  so much to so many.”

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