Sunday, November 13, 2005

Internet control up for discussion at global summit

I'm not exactly sure what the United Nations does and, therefore, cannot speak with any validity on talks to dismantle the organization. Now, on the other hand, an issue will come to the forefront this week that — in my humble opinion — could lead to American resignation from the organization.

The issue is control of the Internet. Abusers of civil rights — Cuba, China, Iran, Brazil and others — want the U.S. to rescind control of the Internet to the U.N. "The goal of a coalition of foreign governments is to wrest control of the Internet from the United States, and the goal of the United States should be to gently explain to them why that's not an option."

A Brief History of the Internet:
"The Internet was the result of some visionary thinking by people in the early 1960s who saw great potential value in allowing computers to share information on research and development in scientific and military fields ... The Internet, then known as ARPANET, was brought online in 1969 under a contract let by the renamed Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which initially connected four major computers at universities in the southwestern US (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, and the University of Utah) ... The Internet was designed in part to provide a communications network that would work even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack. If the most direct route was not available, routers would direct traffic around the network via alternate routes. The early Internet was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists, and librarians. There was nothing friendly about it. There were no home or office personal computers in those days, and anyone who used it, whether a computer professional or an engineer or scientist or librarian, had to learn to use a very complex system."
The accusations by certain countries that the U.S. maintains a monopoly on the Internet are ridiculous. Considering that the Internet is available to everyone with no limitations (except those in oppressed countries such as Cuba, China, Iran and Brazil), the obvious agenda here is greater global control of content and information disimination.

It's easy to imagine a world where the North Korean government — which already controls Internet access in its country — has control of what content is found online. For example, the North Korean government could easily control the in- and out-flow of [damaging] information on its nuclear program, civil abuses, riots, etc.

It would be a clear mistake of judgement to allow every member of the U.N. to have a voice in how the Internet is controlled and monitored. Hans Klein, an associate professor of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said, "Right now, the status quo is sort of an awkward status quo. If you look past the hype, the U.S. is saying, and not unreasonably, if every government gets involved, it could really politicize things. And that's true — that's the downside — you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Things are more efficient if one government controls it but that's make everybody uncomfortable. You get everybody involved, you get stuck with a bunch of different committees and it becomes less effective."

So, if other countries get their way the Internet will be controlled by an inept organization. We're bound to face the following issues:
  • A lose in available news and other information.
  • Revisionist news information as governments have greater control over filtration of web content.
  • An increased ability for global failure of the Internet.
  • Massive security issues with increased sabotage of military and political infrastructures.
Despite the faults of our government and country, political hands have stayed away from policing the Internet. If so, it would have become a quagmire of sloth. This is what will happen if the U.N. gains control. Say goodbye to the Internet as we know it when that day arrives.

See also:
  • Tug-of-War Over Internet Control: "Currently, a private-sector group in California called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) supervises the Net, assigning domain names and addresses. Although countries like China demand an end to what it calls America's 'monopoly,' in reality ICANN's 15 voting board members include four each from Latin America and Asia Pacific, two each from Africa and Europe, and three from North America. Its president is an Australian and staff from 13 countries work on three continents. Moreover, an ICANN governmental advisory committee, which meets 3-4 times a year, is open to representatives of all national governments."
  • JournalStar.com: "On the Internet these days, the United States is less trusted and more alone."
  • PluggedIn: Showdown looms over U.S. Internet control: "The United States is headed for a showdown with much of the rest of the world over control of the Internet. Countries like China, Brazil and Iran don't like the fact that the world's only superpower oversees the system that guides traffic across the global computer network, and have pushed for an international body to take over that role. The United States believes such a body would slow the pace of online innovation to a crawl, requiring entrepreneurs to win permission from a cumbersome bureaucracy before introducing services like Internet telephony."
  • Technology News: Commentary : World Summit Drama Threatens Internet's Future: "It's clear why authoritarian governments don't like the Internet and why they seek to control it -- open dialogue poses a threat to their power. But that doesn't explain European reasons for wanting to place the information highway into the precarious hands of the UN."
  • Who Should Control the Internet?: "But the United States and some other governments, while acknowledging ICANN isn't perfect and some kinks need to be worked out, are worried that internationalization could threaten the Internet's ability to serve as a medium of free expression. They fear it would subject the Internet to censorship by countries that are also U.N. members."

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