Authoritarian regimes hijack an obscure U.N. agency to undermine how the Internet works.

The United Nation's internet power grab - Comment on 2012 June 18

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2012 June 18

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Authoritarian regimes are busy lobbying a majority of the U.N. members to vote their way. Read more:

I bring some excerpts from an article I read today:

 

The U.N.'s Internet Power Grab

Real threat to the international flow of information

It's easy to understand why countries like Russia, China and Iran would want to rewire the Internet, cutting off access to their citizens and undermining the idea of a World Wide Web. What's more surprising is that U.S. diplomats are letting authoritarian regimes hijack an obscure U.N. agency to undermine how the Internet works, including for Americans.

The failure by U.S. negotiators to stop attacks on the Internet became known only through documents leaked last week. They concern a U.N. agency known as the International Telecommunications Union. Founded in 1865 to regulate the telegraph, the body (now part of the U.N.) is planning a World Conference on International Telecommunications in December, when the 193 U.N. member countries, each of which has a single vote, could use the International Telecommunications Regulations to take control of the Internet.

The process is secret, so it was hard to know what authoritarian governments were plotting or how the U.S. was responding.

"These proposals show that many ITU member states want to use international agreements to regulate the Internet by crowding out bottom-up institutions, imposing charges for international communication, and controlling the content that consumers can access online."

Another proposal would give the U.N. authority over allocating Internet addresses. It would replace Icann, the self-regulating body that helped ensure the stability of the Internet, under a contract from the U.S. Commerce Department.

It may be hard for the billions of Web users or the optimists of Silicon Valley to believe that an obscure agency of the U.N. can threaten their Internet, but authoritarian regimes are busy lobbying a majority of the U.N. members to vote their way. The leaked documents disclose a U.S. side that has hardly begun to fight back.

 

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