This article was first posted on February 6th at Wanderings of the Mind, a blog by David A. Bandel. I first met David when he was the technical guru at a local internet service provider in Chiriqui Province, Panama, then owned by a fellow Gringo. He has substantial experience in
internet matters and other computer stuff.
For those of you who have been living under a rock these past years, the International Telecommunications Union, a group under the UN that regulates telephone service the world over, has made a bid, sponsored in part by the UN, Russia, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, to take control of the Internet.
Basically, this group wants governments to control what was never meant to be under government control, a free and open Internet for all to use. If I really need to explain why the massive usurpation of power is dangerous not to mention horribly wrong, perhaps I’m talking to the wrong crowd.
Currently, the Internet is “run” by the consensus of a consortium. While based principally in the US (the Internet did, after all, start there), committee members include peoples from many nations and walks of life. Principally, but not exclusively, geeks, propose new standards and just keep things running.
A conference of the ITU in Dubai recently discussed a myriad of proposals. The ITU had promised several things, including “no vote on ITU governance of the Internet” among other things. But they lied. Not only did they vote on this very issue, the vote ran 89-55 for ITU governance of, and thus governmental interference in, the Internet.
I can think of better ways to destroy what has taken years to build and improve, but none faster. Suggestions for stopping this runaway nightmare have included all 55 nations dropping ITU and UN funding. But that’s not likely to happen, although it would result in the ITU shutting down. Not something many are fond of contemplating as the ITU is the reason you can make overseas phone calls at all.
My suggestion would be to have the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) work together and turn off routing to ASs (Autonomous Systems — used for dynamic routing on the Internet) in the 89 countries that want to meddle with the Internet. This would have pretty much the same effect as what they are proposing by putting the Internet in the (seriously unqualified) hands of the ITU, but doing it this way would collapse many of the developing nations economies and could provoke a global war of unprecedented proportions. But an couple hour’s shutdown would get their attention if it occurred in the middle of a busy work day.
While a number of the countries propelling this bad idea through know exactly what they are doing (Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, many other totalitarian regimes), they have managed to convince a number of dupes who have absolutely NO concept of what they are meddling with to join them, including Panama, a tiny country that struggles everyday to figure out how to even use this modern-day phenomenon and who have no business trying to control it. The 55 countries trying to maintain an open Internet are basically open societies like the US and Western Europe.
Will 89 coutries be allowed to destroy the Internet? Will we have to build a second Internet for the 55 open societies and exclude the totalitarian and totally clueless countries of the world? Well, it would be better than the alternative under a heavily government controlled ITU.
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My comment: On February 5th, it was reported that
U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell will testify to Congress in a joint U.S. House subcommittee hearing on international Internet governance, that the free and open Internet is under attack — and inaction is not an option.
The FCC Commissioner ominously warned Congress that what happened at WCIT-12 “ended the era of an international consensus to keep inter-governmental hands off of the Internet in dramatic fashion.”
Methinks we had best keep an eye on this.