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The Internet Government Politics

U.N. To Govern Internet? 1197

Posted by Zonk
from the better-than-us dept.
Falmarian writes "Apparently the rest of the world isn't happy about the US franchise on internet governance. A news.com article discusses the possibility that the U.N. will make a bid for control of such governing functions as assigning TLDs and IPs." From the article: "At issue is who decides key questions like adding new top-level domains, assigning chunks of numeric Internet addresses, and operating the root servers that keep the Net humming. Other suggested responsibilities for this new organization include Internet surveillance, 'consumer protection,' and perhaps even the power to tax domain names to pay for 'universal access.'"
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U.N. To Govern Internet?

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  • Yuk (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:16AM (#13063736)
    No thanks, I prefer having the internets run by a group with at least a partial background of competency.
    • Re:Yuk (Score:5, Funny)

      by Slugster (635830) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:23AM (#13063831)
      Come on now, be civil. The internet belongs to the world. It's only fair that 60% of the TLD servers are in the world's poorest countries, and they charge $1 and take 15 minutes to do a lookup....
      • Re:Yuk (Score:5, Interesting)

        by drakaan (688386) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:07PM (#13064392) Homepage Journal
        So, the UN says "okay, we have just been given control over the internet's DNS. This is the tax we will charge on your domain name".

        At that point, I start lobbying Slashdot to bring alternic back up to snuff and in use. Screw that.

        I *already* pay a tax for my domain name. It's called a domain name registration fee. The money goes to support those root servers (and to the pockets of the registrars, but hey).

    • Re:Yuk (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rei (128717)
      Yeah, I mean, it's not like the UN has run or otherwise been deeply involved in FAO, ILO, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNCHS, WHO, UNDTCD, ITU, UPU, WMO, ICAO, WFP, IAEA, IFAD, UNFDAC, the World Bank, UNFPA, UNV, and dozens of other major international organizations...

      Or wait, are you wanting to talk about high profile events that occurred recently, ignoring all of that? If so, bring it on.

      * Weapons of mass destruction inspections? What do you know, they were right!

      * Oil For Food: Widely distorted in the
      • Re:Yuk (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pete6677 (681676)
        Ask the starving people in Africa how well the UN has managed things. Ask the people of Darfur how the UN has failed to even try to protect them from genocide. But given that the UN lacks any real enforcement powers, I for one am not too worried about them trying to tax the internet.
        • Re:Yuk (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rei (128717) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:47AM (#13064137) Homepage
          Ask the starving people in Africa

          They'll usually tell you that they in general blame unfair trade practices. For example, even with their low labor costs, African farms often have a hard time competing with subsidized US and European ag exports. First world nations do a lot of pretty nasty stuff as far as import regulations go (for example, declaring the Vietnamese catfish as not being a catfish, to subsidize the US catfish industry)

          Not that many of their problems aren't their own fault, mind you.

          Ask the people of Darfur how the UN has failed to even try to protect them

          Because they *weren't authorized to intervene by the Security Council*. What, are you picturing some huge security council debate over whether cmm.com is typosquatting on cnn.com? We're not talking about troop deployments, we're talking about the internet.

        • Re:Yuk (Score:5, Insightful)

          by I confirm I'm not a (720413) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:51AM (#13064187) Journal

          Ask the starving people in Africa how well the UN has managed things. Ask the people of Darfur how the UN has failed to even try to protect them from genocide. But given that the UN lacks any real enforcement powers, I for one am not too worried about them trying to tax the internet.

          My dad worked in Africa "de-mining". Why not ask Africans whether they'd prefer life without the UN. My experience was many Africans (and this wasn't your Cairo/Jo'burg Africans, this was twenty-years-of-post-colonial-conflict-sponsored-b y Washington-Moscow-London-Paris-Havana-Beijing Africa, by the way) respected the limited work the UN was able to do in extremely difficult circumstances.

          The UN may be shite, but it's better than nothing. And it's a lot better than the League of Nations, which in turn was a lot better than... bugger all international cooperation.

          And regarding Darfur, I've been following this since long before it hit the mainstream media. The UN's been there a long time, dealing with entrenched resistence from the (sovereign) government of Sudan, and from neighbouring states. It's not always possible - or even desirable - to just move into and occupy a country to effect change.

      • Re:Yuk (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hcob$ (766699)
        Let's see....

        Internet: Development of the DARPA Labs (USA)
        Internet: PHYSICALLY constructed by the US
        WWW: later addon from MIT
        email: created by the US
        ftp: created in the US
        TCP/IP: created in the US

        Feel free to add on. The point of this is that the internet, as it started, was wholly concieved and created by the US. Yes other countries added to and by more people connecting, you get more content. However, the fact remains that the US created it.

        Now, the UN is coming in after this wonderfu
        • Re:Yuk (Score:3, Informative)

          by kernelfoobar (569784)
          WWW: later addon from MIT

          Sorry to burst your bubble but WWW is a CERN invention [historyoftheinternet.com] (international organization part in Switzerland, and part in France). Check here [oup.co.uk] and here [web.cern.ch].
      • Re:Yuk (Score:4, Informative)

        by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @01:22PM (#13065431) Homepage
        * Weapons of mass destruction inspections? What do you know, they were right!
        No, they weren't... This is such a recent history, that I suspect you are not simply mistaken/forgetful, but are lying. Here is the reminder [infoplease.com], in particular:
        Jan. 27, 2003 The UN's formal report on Iraqi inspections is highly critical, though not damning, with chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix stating that "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it."
        Do not revise history.
        • Re:Yuk (Score:4, Informative)

          by Carewolf (581105) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @05:39PM (#13067868) Homepage
          This was during the period when the U.S. was seeking support for invading Iraq. The inspectors had not found _any_ evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but any sign of reluctance from Saddam to let them examine facilities was blown out.

          In order to create a conflict the US had the weapons inspectors search Saddams palaces and harem for weapons of mass destruction, knowing that Saddam would refuse at first.
      • Re:Yuk (Score:4, Insightful)

        by popo (107611) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @03:17PM (#13066583) Homepage

        Why would you want an organization whose consituents are mostly corrupt pseudo-democracies or flatout dictatorships to control anything?

    • Re:Yuk (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cshark (673578) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:41AM (#13064065)
      This is a tax scheme, plain and simple. Granted the US could tax domain names just as easily, but they haven't yet. The fact that this is one of the first things that the UN brings up gives me pause.
  • Cycle of the ages (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kalpol (714519) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:17AM (#13063750) Homepage
    Whenever a new area of freedom opens up, eventually government seeks to control it. We are never really free, just constantly staying one step ahead of the beaurocracy.
    • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:51AM (#13064186)
      I have a different take on this. My experience has shown that whenever a new area of freedom opens up, some group abuses it, requiring regulation/oversight.
      • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:31PM (#13064718)
        You know, there's an alternative to regulation. It's called education and responsibility.

        However, lazy folks just prefer handing control over to someone else, and pay lip service to ideas like "freedom" and "liberty."
      • Really ? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bmajik (96670)
        Do you have examples ?

        In any case, what is the UN qualified to have oversight on?
      • by shaper (88544)

        My experience has shown that whenever a new area of freedom opens up, some group abuses it, requiring regulation/oversight.

        Pardon me if this sounds offensive, I don't mean it to be, but my first (and second and third) impression from this statement is that you like control and telling other people what to do or how to do it. Some people prefer consensus and commonly held mores of behavior to authoritarian approaches with rigid rules and regulations, as in level 3 vs. level 2 of Kohlberg's stages of mor [wikipedia.org]

  • What a Great Idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanielMarkham (765899) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#13063773) Homepage
    I think the U.N. should get involved in all aspects of the internet. After all, aren't these the same guys who want more regulation of cell phones? [whattofix.com]
    After all, that's what we elected these people to do, right? Oh wait a minute. nobody elected the UN, it's a treaty organization.
    I'm not trying to sound reactionary, but this sounds like a solution in search of a problem. The internet is fine the way it is. If the U.S. Congress has managed to keep its hands off it so far, the U.N. should follow suit, imo. The more politicians we get involved in managing the net, the worse it will perform for everybody.

    Being Your Own Customer [whattofix.com]
    • Just think of the WHO.

      I'd say it's a pretty damn well run organization despite being run by the U.N.

      U.N. is not just a bunch of incompetent politicians, although i'm sure a lot of americans like to think that.
      • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:36AM (#13063997) Journal
        Thats because the WHO has a pretty clear role in life, and that role is pretty hard to fuck up. I mean, if the WHO went around killing babies, it'd be pretty obvious that something is wrong.

        But what about "managing Teh Intarweb"? The majority of politicians these days don't even understand that there is more to the internet than what Internet Explorer shows them. If they start throwing around regulations that are impossible to follow (like "ban all sites that might offend someone, but we can't give you a list because that would be offensive", how many times have we heard THAT now?) the majority of the politicians wouldn't figure it out until everything starts going down in flames, and if they can't see the rubble in Internet Explorer, they don't know that it's there.

        And of course, being unelected, should they get an email saying the internet should be shut down for its annual cleaning and believe that it's true, there isn't anything obvious that can be done about it.
      • by Augusto (12068) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:45AM (#13064115) Homepage
        In Panama, the UNICEF money was a great source of wealth for politicians. UNICEF had not good mechanism of auditing and keeping track of the money, and ensuring that it was actually spent on children.
      • by Joey7F (307495) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:48AM (#13064151) Homepage Journal
        U.N. is not just a bunch of incompetent politicians, although i'm sure a lot of americans like to think that.


        That is what everyone with half a brain thinks. It is a joke of an organization. Libya was head of the human rights council! Other nations included Cuba (HA!) and Syria (HAHA!)

        It is composed of European socialists and third-world zeros. If you want it to have any moral authority create the UDN (United Democratic Nations) and invite nations that respect the sanctity of human life.

        --Joey
    • by Marnhinn (310256) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:28AM (#13063908) Homepage Journal
      Problem is, other nations do not want the US to be in charge of the internet. They see it as a potential way for the US to impose the US's views on them.

      However, on the same hand, the US has no real reason to give up control.

      Hence the suggestion to use the UN - it seems like a middle ground somewhat. The people that suggested it are simply trying to create a compromise so the *net doesn't fragment.
    • by FrankDrebin (238464) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:30AM (#13063922) Homepage

      nobody elected the UN, it's a treaty organization

      ... and treaty-based bodies administer the international communications issues like radio spectrum and satellite slots. So what's the difference?

      • by PipianJ (574459)
        The difference is that the Internet does not require the sort of regulation given to those as it is not liable to suffer the Tragedy of the Commons, unlike with radio spectrum (only so much spectrum is relatively free from natural effects AND non-ionizing) and satellite slots (only so many slots are available).
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jasonmicron (807603) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#13063775)
    As the internet was invented, created and distributed in the United States by the US military a few decades ago and the US controls the root domain (.), how can the UN decide that they can control this?

    The US _does_ control root, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#13063776)
    Given the UN's proven track record of success, efficiency and effeciveness, I don't see how anyone could be against this.
    • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:28AM (#13063891) Homepage Journal
      Careful! This is Slashdot! You need to specify when there is sarcasm in a statement or risk getting megatively modded by the oblivious. But to continue your statement, I can't wait to read about the "IP for Food" scandal in the next few years.
    • Re:I'm all for it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vinlud (230623)
      The joke was nice, but now back in reality, the UN doesn't have a 100% effectiveness record, but there are lots of regions on this planet where people can live in some form of peace because of the UN.

      Also remind the UN is more than the security council, for instance the World Health Org. and World Food Program are UN bodies with millions and millions of human lives depending on them on a daily basis.

      I'm convinced the people working at the UN in the offices and in the field are higly motivated, skilled and
  • It isn't broke... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrNonchalant (767683) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:19AM (#13063780)
    ...don't fix it. Verisign's monopoly aside, I haven't heard of any cases in which the internet has been abused by the United States or any organization assigned to administrate it. This change is fixing a problem that doesn't exist and may create problems that do. Other than political niceness, what does internationalization of the internet's control really offer?
  • by ucahg (898110) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:21AM (#13063797)
    Just stop already with the TLDs.

    In fact, get rid of them entirely. They aren't truly necessary except to maintain backwards compatability.
  • by gods_design (266291) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:21AM (#13063802) Homepage Journal
    This way when there is a dispute over ip addressing UN peace keepers can just observe the dispute while the parties kill each other...
  • by Puls4r (724907) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:22AM (#13063817)
    Or not. Whatever hardware they own, they can govern themselves. While US companies owns 70-80% of the hardware that makes the internet run, the US will govern our own, thanks very much.
  • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:23AM (#13063834)
    My initial knee-jerk reaction to this was "Why not the US, after all, we invented it?". But after thinking about it for a few seconds it occured to me that since the internet is global you really need a global entity to be ultimately responsible for it. If there was a single global government then it'd be a no-brainer, but since the closest thing we have is the UN then why not? Yeah, I realize that there are all sorts of arguments like the UN is incompetent, etc. but when you're talking about something that impacts the entire world what better and more universally recognized body do we currently have?
    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you're missing the main point... if it isn't broken, why fix it?
    • I think we need to remember that the internet, although global, has many freedom based goals inherent to it. Just remember, /.s favorite internet blocking country China would now have a say in the final product. If that idea fails to scare you, then I can't reach you.

      Call us cowboys, but a lot of the world doesn't want our freedoms, and would be more than happy to stop them for all of us. I don't think the spirit of the internet could survive a bunch of unelected corrupt dictators setting the rules.
    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aggieben (620937) <aggiebenNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:41AM (#13064064) Homepage Journal
      You really want to hand control of something so economically vital to the U.N.? You really want to allow the U.N. to impose taxes? Talk about taxation without representation...

      I tend to agree with most everyone else here: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

      I don't agree with the idea that "the US invented it, therefore we should control it". I don't think that's a good approach or attitude, but I also think that the internet has been humming along just fine without any real government control.

      Really...what would *anyone* have to gain from allowing the UN to control the internet from a practical standpoint (no, "sticking it to the US" doesn't count)? I think it's pretty obvious that the cost/benefit ratio is really, really bad in that scenario.
    • by PapayaSF (721268)
      since the internet is global you really need a global entity to be ultimately responsible for it.

      Air travel, news, food, and Earth's economy are just as "global", and yet there are no global entities in charge of those areas. Not only does there not need to be, there are good reasons to not have global (i.e. centralized) control of such things. 20th century history is full of examples.

      One big reason to fear UN control beyond taxes: how long before they try to crack down on "hate speech," which will me
    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by magarity (164372) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:44AM (#13064104)
      If there was a single global government then it'd be a no-brainer, but since the closest thing we have is the UN then why not?

      The UN doesn't even vaguely resemble a world government. It's more like a country club for national governments. There's no real money in helping refugees, feeding starving children, or vaccinations; the UNHCR, UNICEF, and the WHO are decent branches of the UN. There is staggering amounts of money in "overseeing" oil and other commodity sales and there's probably also staggering amounts of money and power involved in domain name control. Do you really want an organization made up of unelected and unaccountable politicos running another program with money involved given the UN's track record in that regard?
    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by saider (177166)
      If there was a single global government then it'd be a no-brainer,but since the closest thing we have is the UN then why not?

      There is not a global government. The UN is a treaty organization that wants to become a government. Your attitude is to just hand over a national asset to a questionable body that is not accountable to anyone.

      Besides, why not do something better? Create alternate directories and advertise the IP numbers for those nameservers. Let software developers work out the problems with mult
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:20PM (#13064551)
      I heard a great quote along the lines of "The UN is the place where governments that suppress free speech demand to be heard." It's quite true, the UN isn't composed of a group of free and democratic countries, it's composed of some of those, and some that are rather less free, and some like Syria, which is a military dictatorship. These aren't the kind of nations I want having a say in what is the greatest source of free information, given that a free flow of information is very threatening to them.

      Another problem is that the UN isn't an elected body. It's diplomats that are appointed and are not answerable to the public they supposedly represent. Politicians do enough shady shit when they ARE directly answerable, it gets far, far worse when there's no accountability.

      I mean for a good example, see the receant Tsunami crisis. When the Tsunami hit, the important thing initally was getting basic aid there immediatly, food, water, and medical attention. A number of nations did just that. Both their military and civilian volunteers went over and worked their asses off to save lives. The UN, sent a group over to survey the damage and fact find, they gave some soundbites to the media, and whined that the troops over there should be wearing UN blue, rather than the uniforms of their countries. All the while people were in desperate need of immediate help.

      That's just a good example of the general problem. Look at the UN office in New York. The oppulance is simply unbelievable for an orginization that is supposed to be a representitive of so many poor nations. Then realise they have offices like this all over the place.

      Now for the US there's an additonal consideration in that the UN may decide they want regulations on the Internet that are unconstutional. The constution can't be overriden just by some treaty orginization, it overrides all other law in America (well, it's supposed to at any rate, politicans seem to forget that sometimes). So for example China might want to push a regulation that says no subversive political speech is allowed, and they'd have plenty of backers on that. Well, sorry, but that's unconstutional.

      While I think we can work out a more equitable solution than the US running the Internet, having the UN run it isn't the right answer.
  • by blankmeyer (600714) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:23AM (#13063838) Homepage
    I made this comment on my blog (http://blankmeyer.blogspot.com/2005/07/should-un- control-of-internet.html [blogspot.com]):
    Following last weeks announcement by the U.S. that it would not turn over DNS servers it controls to ICANN (U.S. Won't Let Go of Master Domain Servers), the U.N. is set to report next week that it should control the internet backbone.

    If there's one organization that I can name that shouldn't have control of the Internet, it is the United Nations. I think the UN has outlived its useful life and needs to either be drastically reformed or replaced completely. If we're ever going to have a united world government, that institution needs actual power, protection for member states, and freedom from corruption (or what the best safeguards can allow).

    The UN has no business asking to regulate something, when it can't even regulate itself. Granted, I don't necessarily think the U.S. government should be in charge of the DNS backbone. I think it needs to be an un-national and un-political organization that has a limited focus on running the internet with feedback, not only from world-wide governments, but from businesses and individual users, as well. A model based off of the open-source movement could work.

    Just keep it out of the hands of the U.N.
    • by sheldon (2322)
      If we're ever going to have a united world government, that institution needs actual power, protection for member states, and freedom from corruption (or what the best safeguards can allow).

      This is contradictory... power and protection for member states? How about we protect the member states by not giving the UN power?

      The UN was supposed to be a framework for diplomatic cooperation of countries. A place for them to talk issues to death, to negotiate treaties and so forth. The failure we've seen has
  • by argoff (142580) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:24AM (#13063848)
    Let me get this straight. I agree it's a good idea to remove tld's from US controll to avoid being controlled and manpiulated by such a large and powerfull political entity that coulnd't care less about my rights online. Anyone else see the irony here?
  • by Len Budney (787422) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:25AM (#13063858)

    ...then maybe. Not before.

  • by wardk (3037) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:27AM (#13063878) Journal
    so if the UN runs the internet, I suppose that attacks against 3rd world computers will be ignored until millions of computers are slag. then when they do intervene, it will be half-hearted with the help unable to actually help, just stand around watching shit burn.

    • so if the UN runs the internet, I suppose that attacks against 3rd world computers will be ignored until millions of computers are slag. then when they do intervene, it will be half-hearted with the help unable to actually help, just stand around watching shit burn.

      I see your point. The UN will act just like Microsoft does now.
  • by robocrop (830352) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:31AM (#13063928)
    Resolution 30357A - Illegal File Traders:

    We will give you 1 year to take down your website, before 'more drastic' measures will be taken.

    One year later ...

    Resolution 30357B - Illegal File Traders:

    Oh, did we say one year? We meant two. Take two years. But take it down! Don't make us unleash the fury!

    Two years later ...

    Resolution 30357C - Illegal File Traders:

    We at the UN can't help but notice that you haven't taken your site down. We strongly disapprove of your actions. So much so that we're giving you three more years to do it. But you'd better believe that when those three years are up it's clobbering time. Seriously.

    Three years later ...

    Resolution 30357D - Illegal File Traders:

    It seems you are still running your illegal website. We downloaded several Chingy tunes today (thanks for the UN discount!). But you seriously need to take that site down. Seriously. To show you how serious we are, we're going to start a plan of denying aid to people not in any way affiliated with you. Yes we know this won't affect on you personally, but it makes us look like bad-asses. Five more years! That's all we can give you. Then out come the meat hammers!

    Five years later ...

    Resolution 30357E - Illegal File Traders
    - Rider A: Condemnation of Israel for refusing to just fucking disappear like the Mayans
    - Rider B: Pay-raise and trips to Disneyland!

    Maybe it's us. Are we doing something wrong? Is there something we could give you to make you take that site down? Because, seriously, we're all pussies here at the UN and don't want to do anything drastic like follow through on our empty resolution statements. So why don't we go ahead and give you as many years as you like to take that site down. Just keep those kickbacks coming! And remember, we are the world's last resort for justice!

    • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:53AM (#13064218)
      Resolution 30357F

      The US is making us do this again. Sorry. So, *sigh*, this is probably your last warning. First of all, thanks for taking that copy of Herbie: Fully Loaded off your site. But if you don't provide proof that you're not operating another server somewhere in some way we can't detect, we're going to come get you.
  • A question of Rights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thunderstruck (210399) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:44AM (#13064091)
    Were the UN to assume such regulatory authority over the internet, what assurances would citizens of a United State have that the rights they exercise now, via the internet, would be continued?

    Right now if I want I can spew all the hate-speech I like on the internet.

    Right now I can arrange the sale of firearms over the internet.

    Right now I can play addictive text-based MUDs that waste more lives than either of the above.

    Will these be preserved by a governing body who disapproves of all three?*

    (*number three was a joke)

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:54AM (#13064233) Homepage
    ...Other suggested responsibilities for this new organization include Internet surveillance, 'consumer protection,' and perhaps even the power to tax domain names to pay for 'universal access.'"
    I was fine up until that part. ICANN does not and should never have the power to do any of the above things. They could at least PRETEND to be legitimate. But when they start off by suggesting that they could have power way beyond the scope of what is reasonable, right away, it becomes pretty clear that this is a bad idea.
  • by brian6string (469449) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:54AM (#13064236)
    Let's play this out. The U.N. takes over assigning TLDs, etc. How long would it be before someone at the U.N. (Kofi Annan) is accepting bribes, or he hires his son, or daugther, or the son of the guy who cuts the grass at the U.N. to oversee this. And then $$$ or euro's if you prefer start getting redirected to someone's personal account.

    As a forum for international discussion, dialog and negotiation, the U.N. is a fine organization. The U.N. as a body is, though, not actually accountable to anyone. This is why the U.N. should not be thought of as a government, or even a meta-government (a government of governments). Any body that is not accountable to (as in, risks being voted out of office or power), eventually becomes corrupt.

    How much money went to Sadaam Hussein in the oil for food program? How much was actually used for food? Little if any. How much money was skimmed off the top by people at the U.N.? A lot, but we can never know how much because these people neither represent my (or your) interests, nor are they accountable to me (or you)!
  • by Munra (580414) <slashdot@jon3.14athanlove.co.uk minus pi> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:56AM (#13064258) Homepage
    I think a lot of people need some slight perspective with regards to the recent problems that the UN has faced.

    It's not overly effective in some respects (stopping invasions, oppression) but that's a fault of the countries involved not the organisation itself.

    Without the UN, there might still be apartheid in South Africa. There would be lots more people starving to death. There would likely still be smallpox. Free and fair elections would be unavailable in many countries. AIDS (and tuberculosis and malaria) would be far greater problems. Those accused of warcrimes might not be tried.

    While it's easy to knock the UN following recent scandals, get a sense of perspective. It's extremely difficult to coordinate things on a world scale without any real authority but the UN does do an extremely admirable job.

    Whether it would handle the root servers well or not is a separate issue but don't critise out of a hand an organisation that has saved millions of lives.

    Manta
  • Kids, stop fighting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Squeedle (20031) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @11:58AM (#13064275)
    First, unfortunately for the rest of the world, the US is in control of ICANN and doesn't have to do a damn thing if it doesn't want. Unfortunately for us, that leaves open the option that the rest of the world does take their toys and goes home, i.e. "invents" a new internet and leaves us out of it. I was about to say that neither extreme seems very likely, but given the current political climate I'm not so sure.

    I'm sorry to have to agree though, the idea of the UN controlling the Internet is scary, for exactly the reasons that people have mentioned. It's currently largely unregulated (another word for that is "free", get it?). The comments from UN reps in other countries (e.g. Syria) revealed amazing ignorance of how the internet works, and an explicit desire to exert firm control over content. The complaint by Brazil about the .xxx TLD was really stupid - such a domain could make it easier to filter out porn sites if one wanted - because they are NOT going away. I like the internet just the way it is, thank you very much.

    So far I have yet to hear either a good technical or policy-based argument against leaving it in US hands. I'm willing to be convinced, but so far all the arguments against US control have boiled down to, "we don't like you and/or don't want you to have it." Not good enough for me, sorry. I'm going to write my Congresscritters and ask them not to turn it over.
  • by DragonHawk (21256) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:44PM (#13064871) Homepage Journal
    I've said this before, on Slashdot, even: There is no Internet. Not the way we like to think of it. It doesn't exist as a cohesive whole. You can't connect to "the Internet". The most you can do is connect your network to somebody else's network. Maybe multiple somebodies. But still, you're just connecting to their networks. Then they do the same with some others. And so on. That's what we're talking about here. An inter-network. A bunch of individual networks. They are operated by businesses, organizations, governments, and individuals.

    Right now, almost everybody agrees that US-centric organization like ICANN get to govern top-level things like the root domain. But there is absolutely nothing keeping people following their own set of standards. Indeed, some already do.

    I don't even worry that much about "fragmentation". The Internet is already horribly fragmented. It's no longer safe or consistent or well-organized, which you used to be able to count on. If, say, we end up with multiple conflicting namespaces, someone will create some meta-directory protocols or search engines or something.

    Of course, it would be nicer if that didn't happen. No sense making things worse then they are.
  • I just keep thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @12:56PM (#13065059) Homepage
    Every time the U.N. comes up, in any capacity, the rah-rah America faction-- especially, I find, the portion of that faction with "blogs"-- just explodes falling all over themselves to denounce the U.N. and talk about how horrible and evil it is and how everything it does is wrong.

    Looking at the U.N. myself though I don't really see an organization consistent enough to draw any conclusions about it. It is an evolving entity. Look at its state over time since oh, say, 1985, and you'll realize there are almost no points over this time period where the U.N. in practice clearly resembles the entity it was just five years before. The U.N. had a clearly defined role during the Cold War; now that the Cold War is over that role no longer applies, and it is trying to find its new role. I don't think there's any way to predict right now what that role is going to be. The U.S. has the option of taking an active hand in shaping the U.N.'s new role, if we want (there have been parts of the last 20 years where we've done this, though right now is not one of them); however, what we can't do is make the U.N. go away. It's going to stay around, and it's going to develop into something. That isn't our choice. Our only choice is, will it develop into something with us or without us.

    One thing that it occasionally worries me the U.N. might develop into is a bloc organization that basically represents "everyone but the U.S.". That is, I think it is possible that as the U.S. increasingly acts only in its own immediate interest to the exclusion of anyone else's interests, other countries will use the U.N. as a platform on which to band together and represent their interests in common, until the U.N. eventually becomes something which pens in the U.S. the way NATO penned in the USSR. As an American, I don't think this situation would be good for me or my country. However, I think it is possible. I also think that trying to push hard against or de-emphasize the U.N. does more to make the above "U.N. vs U.S." outcome likely than it does to make the U.N. weaker. The U.N.'s potential strength stems from the countries which wish to align with it; it's exactly as strong if the U.S. appears hostile toward it as it is if the U.S. appears apathetic toward it. However if the U.S. appears hostile toward the U.N. we do begin to set the stage for a situation where the U.N. begins to behave antagonistically back.

    I see this DNS thing as a small but noteworthy step toward this situation.

    Four or five years ago if the U.N. expressed an interest in controlling the DNS servers (and they did) there would be no point in taking this suggestion seriously (and no one did) because there was already an independent and international body (ICANN) on track toward running the DNS system. Now the U.S. has decided to make ICANN no longer a meaningfully independent body, and the governance of the DNS servers a U.S. national issue rather than an international one. And now, as a result, we are starting to see movements where service providers and governments outside the U.S. [slashdot.org] are starting to look into ways to break away from the U.S.-commerce-department-controlled ICANN system and into nameserver independence. In this light, the U.N. proposing they control nameservers takes on a very different tone. It underscores that if the U.S. does not wish to administer the nameservers under its control in an international fashion, there are other entities perfectly willing to assume that job.

    If other nations choose to break away from the U.S. controlled nameservers, well, it's likely they'll do so together, meaning that we will have the U.S. commerce department running DNS for the U.S. and an international body running DNS for "everybody else". And who will run this international body? Well, the U.N. is a likely choice. The steady smear campaign against the U.N. doesn't exist in the same way outside the
  • by EMIce (30092) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @01:05PM (#13065199) Homepage
    Why not allow unlimited TLDs? Official structure and organization through TLDs is overrated.

    For example, it seems silly to rely on something like .mobi for mobile sites rather than embedding that in the application protocol. We should be relying on meta-data to define such distinctions, including the categorization companies, non-profit organizations and ISPs. Meta-data would be more flexible, as distinctions do overlap in ways that domains can't singularly cover.

    If you need something authoritative, private authorities could use public/private keys as proof to do that. Indiviuals could then decide which private authorities have standards worth trusting. The U.N. could set up such an authority to authenticate government sites. When a user visits a government site, it could refer the application to the whichever authorities it chooses.

    Limiting TLDs just creates conflict as different powerful interests vie for their own distinctions. Sure people can more quickly categorize this way, but the limitations seem to outweight the benefits.
  • by Britz (170620) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @03:23PM (#13066658) Homepage
    Before I go on, please aknowledge that I am from Germany and I think the UN is a great idea.

    It is really bad as it is now. Every independent board member that has overseen ICAAN actions has said this. But putting it into the hands of the UN per se would just make matters much worse.

    Also I have the strong feeling that many people don't have the slightest clue what the UN really is and what it does. The funny thing is everyone seems to have an opinion about it. Either they hate it or love it or like it or dislike it. Germans like it and left leaning Americans like it. French like it and conservative Americans dislike it. I don't know about Americans, but I know that Germans don't have a clue what it is they like.

    Some basics:
    The UN is made up of different bodies to which countries are elected. Each world region (like Africa or Asia) has a certain quota for how many countries they can vote into a certain comitee. Then there are also organizations for specific purposes. Like UNAIDS or the UN high comissionare for refugees.

    The UN is very good for diplmacy for example. All nations can go there and resolve conflicts instead of starting wars. Granted, it hasn't work very good and could be made better, but I don't see any alternative. Kofi Annan for example pushed through some very important reforms in his first two years of office.

    Anyways, I could go on for hours, but maybe You can just check their webpage. It is quite informative.

    Just reading the UN Charta would most likely be very invormative to many people here I suppose.

    The UN is many, many things at the same time. Maybe if a sensible set of rules would be put together for some kind of organization under the UN umbrella it would appear international and at the same time remain efficient. But is not going to happen anyways. So keep cool and keep cursing Verisign and their control over ICANN.
  • US to retain what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @03:30PM (#13066739) Homepage
    The idea that the US is currently in control of the internet is already silly.

    The other root servers could stop mirroring A, ISPs could stop pointing to the current root servers, or the end users could stop using their ISPs domain servers.

    If the UN wants to set up and control their own root server, they should just do it, there's nothing stopping them.

    -- Should you trust authority without question?

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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