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UN Pushes Plan To Assume Internet Governance Role 287

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the the-un-is-always-right dept.
no0b writes with an Op-Ed by the FCC Commissioner on a UN plan to gain more control over Internet regulation. From the article: "On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year's end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish 'international control over the Internet' through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices. " BoingBoing offers a slightly different perspective; The Register offers a quite different perspective.
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UN Pushes Plan To Assume Internet Governance Role

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  • by xeno314 (661565) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:19PM (#39126699)
    The idea would be to have *better* regulation of the Internet, which won't happen with the UN/ITU. Adding culture clashes to the present political clashes and putting countries that actively censor content at the table is just asking for trouble.
  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:23PM (#39126745)

    What I fear is that we'll wind up having to chose our poisons.

    Because it looks like there's no way in hell that it will be left in the hands of those who built it, maintain it and understand it.

  • Putin's elections (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:25PM (#39126777) Homepage Journal

    Putin wants to make sure that there is no way for Russian dissidents to post information about the election fraud. He is angry that people can put videos of fraud online somewhere else, not in Russia and others can view that video.

    Putin's party in Russia would NOT win in real elections, but the way it's done, he is getting the votes he needs, because of all the fraud.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:28PM (#39126815)

    Pick the one most likely to result in a leadership that is crippled in from disagreement. The less they do, the better.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:29PM (#39126833) Journal

    Hey, now there's an idea- the workers at backbone stations take a global week-long break and let the chips fall as they will. See if they figure out the real owners then.

  • One world order (Score:5, Insightful)

    by U8MyData (1281010) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:29PM (#39126835)
    This is a very clear indication that we are inching closer and closer to one world order regardless of the fact it will never work. Until governments and religious groups of the world drop fanatical, hysterical, authoritarian rule, this planet will not see the kind of societal framework necessary to exist under one world government. Very scary notion of the UN controlling something so important to free expression as the net is. Distributed responsibility works best. Lets hope we see something like the SOPA incident to prevent this from happening. If not, I am staying home, canceling anything internet and making like a hole in the wall. Sad really. But then again, I will save boat loads of money...
  • The wrong goal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wanderfowl (2534492) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:31PM (#39126867)
    Right now, in the short game, everybody wants the ability to govern the internet, with the assumption that they'll do it right for their constituents/country/special interests, and with the flawed assumption that they'll be on top forever. The problem is that by attempting to run the internet your way and lock everybody into that _right now_, you're making it easier for somebody else who you disagree with more to take your place, leaving them controlling your internet in a way you may not want. You can't build an elaborate censorship, surveillance and control system on the internet and not expect it to be used against you the next time the torch is passed. In the long game, though, what everybody _should_ be wanting is the hardening of the internet against governance, tracking and regulation, by anybody, and de-centralize it enough that it doesn't matter who thinks they're running things. Only then can you ensure that your use-case is still functional, no matter who's "in charge".
  • Holy crap ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:31PM (#39126877) Homepage

    Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year's end

    Holy crap! If China and Russia are in favor of this, it simply can't be allowed to happen.

    I can only imagine how badly the internet would be broken by every piss-pot government bureaucrat around the world decides the internet should (or shouldn't) be allowed to work in a given way.

    Criticize the government? Banned. Point out that a politician is a philandering, lying bastard? Banned.

    There's already actions in the UN to make it a crime to say mean things about religion ... this will only make it worse, and then some. It's my legal right to say that your imaginary friend can mind his own damned business and that I don't wish to be bound by your scripture.

    Go with a central control over the internet, and you're in a race to the bottom to appease the most backwards of governments, and pretty much do whatever the copyright lobby wants out of it.

    Keep your hands off my fucking internet.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:36PM (#39126945) Homepage

    Yeah. This.

    I'm of two minds, too.

    On the one hand, we've all seen the situation as it is currently with the US on past Slashdot stories (shutting down websites, taking domains, etc.)

    So you start to think, maybe the US shouldn't have control.

    The problem is, the UN could be worse.

  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:36PM (#39126953) Homepage Journal

    The UN fancies itself as a nascent world government. I don't know about the rest of the world, but the US isn't going to go along with putting the Internet in the hands of the same people that made Qaddafi's Libya chair of the Human Rights Commission.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:36PM (#39126957) Journal
    The way I see it, there is a choice between having it controlled by the US, who despite SOPA, still has some of the strongest protection of free speech anywhere in the world. We have other problems, but you can say basically anything.

    On the other side, you have an agency who is partially controlled by Russia and China, who don't respect free speech, and actively favor censoring the internet. At least in the US, politicians will all say they oppose censorship if you ask them. In China, most of them favor it, and actively use it as an opportunity to destroy their political enemies. Do you want someone with that kind of attitude to have any say in what happens on the internet?

    The proper function of the UN is not to tell us what to do, it's not to be a governing body of the world. It's designed to be a place where the powerful (and to a lesser degree, the less powerful) countries of the world can get together and discuss things, and if possible, avoid going to war. Furthermore it is mechanism to take action once all parties are agreed. These reasons are why any member of the security council can veto action.

    It was designed for that purpose, and it does it well. If you want to make the UN an international leading body, a true world government, then you'll need to change its structure.
  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Githaron (2462596) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:37PM (#39126967)

    What I fear is that we'll wind up having to chose our poisons.

    When was the last time the US government let us choose anything?

  • Re:Why protest? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chispito (1870390) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:40PM (#39127005)

    The average Slashdotter wants global governance of meatspace

    Huh? Care to elaborate? In my experience, if you pick a random Slashdotter, he is most likely to be an economic socialist/social libertarian. I really don't get a "global government" vibe here.

  • No friggin way (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:40PM (#39127009) Journal

    The UN is totally dysfunctional in way that makes Washington DC look like a Bastian of efficiency, honesty, and virtue. The problem with the UN is there is also the matter that the UN is made up of members that have little to no respect for basic human freedoms, and that includes places like Western Europe where its say illegal to question certain historic view points. That same organization than has the gal to berate us here in the USA on human rights for say executing adult criminals (18 years old), while they would classify all kinds of behavior as criminal which we would never criminalize in the first place.

    No I am not a fan of government but when it comes to Internet governance I would much much rather have the USA (who is entitled to by the way as we build the thing) with its still relatively strong Constitutional protections running the Net, than some international body.

    Personally if the rest of the world thinks they should govern the Net I say let them build their own, but as soon as packet touches one of our Edge routers, OUR RULES APPLY.

  • Re:Holy crap ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kruhft (323362) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:43PM (#39127079) Homepage Journal

    > Keep your hands off my fucking internet.

    It's not our internet anymore. It hasn't been for quite a while now.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:44PM (#39127089)

    Say what you will about the corruption and inefficiencies in the U.S. government; I would GLADLY accept U.S. control over the internet instead the U.N. any day.

    As bad as the megacorps of the U.S. are, they are NOWHERE near as bad as the "crooks, dictators, religious extremists, military leaders who killed the civilian leaders to gain control" you point out in the U.N.

  • by mastakuno (912062) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:52PM (#39127207)
    The court ruled in American Library Association v. U.S. Department of Justice and Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union that "speech on the Internet is entitled to the highest level of First Amendment protection, similar to the protection the Court gives to books and newspapers." Notice how television and radio are not included in that list. This is because with every new technology that emerges, the government wants to regulate it because of the powers it holds. The Internet is a very powerful tool for freedom, I hope we can keep it this way. Let's not let what happened to radio and television happen to the Internet.
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:01PM (#39127319)

    One thing people often forget is that individual citizens are NOT constituents of the UN. The UN does not represent you, your rights, or your interests.

    The UN represents GOVERNMENTS, whose interests are often at odds with, or diametrically opposed to, the interests of the people they govern. Indeed, the UN only represents people's intrests when they happen to coincide with the interests of a sufficient number of sufficiently powerful governments, which is quite rare (WHO and the Human Rights folks notwithstanding). Moving authority from a democratically elected government (however dysfunctional, however provincial) to an unelected body that represents government interests over human interests is not a change for the better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:03PM (#39127355)
    Here's one situation where the fractured political parties in the United States can actually be of one mind on something. The Left will block it because they balk at the idea of handing control of the internet over people who are easily swayed by governments with records of human rights abuses, and Right will block it because they hate the UN and will see this as another step in the creation of the New World Order. The US will back out of the ITU before this happens.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:06PM (#39127407)

    The most appropriate regulation for the 'net would be of two parts:

    1. There shall be common standards that may be utilized by anyone without cost.
    2. If you get a packet, you send it on, no matter who it is from or to whom it is going.
    2a. You can charge for a connection and by bandwidth, but not for transference of data.
    3. There shall not be any more regulation imposed on the 'net.

    But... we'll never get this. Why? Because the powers that be can go full time on their efforts to control; the politicians who are bought and the folks doing the buying don't need to take time to go to work - that is their work. Just as the mega-corporations who are fighting for their own control don't have to spend their evenings taking care of the kids.

    I guess you haven't had much real world Network experience.

    1. Common standards? What isn't a common standard? Are you talking about flash? Or are you referring to BGP, OSPF, IS-IS, and TCP/IP?
    2. Not all data is worth forwarding. Have you heard of QoS? It achieves its end result by not trying to forward every packet.
    2a. Why wouldn't they have the right to charge for transference of data? It's their network. They can charge you whatever they want. If you don't like it, choose a different way to connect to the internet. (Yes, I do realize that there are those who don't have more than one choice for provider. That isn't a problem this rule would fix. This is a problem because of the amount of regulations on telecoms.)
    3. Good luck on that. Regulation begets regulation.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:14PM (#39127527) Journal

    Threaten them (the US) with calling in all the outstanding monitary loans it owes. You know, "sign this, or become the next Greece" sort of thing.

    US Federal debt is sold in varying maturities [treasurydirect.gov], some bonds and TIPS do not mature until 2041.

    Also US Federal debt remains one of the few safe places for international investors (such as banks or foreign reserves held by countries trying to stabilize their currency). Global BASEL capital requirements on banks make it particularly beneficial for banks to hold US Federal debt (considered "risk free").

    US Federal debt is not purchased because people like the US. It is purchased because it is an economic necessity in an unstable world.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cragen (697038) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:22PM (#39127635)
    Which is pretty much why Democracy works the best. It is the most ineffective form of government on planet. Lawyers trying to outwit lawyers at every turn. Leaving those of us, living mostly legally, alone most of the time. Oddly the other reason Democracy works is that we (mostly) cheerfully pay taxes and on-time to get this form of government. Seems a fair trade most of the time. Hmm. Nap time. (Get off my lawn! Yawn.)
  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhagwad (1426855) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:44PM (#39127959) Homepage
    As an Indian, I hope the US will continue to have stewardship over the Internet for the foreseeable future. My own government is run by assholes who think "blasphemy" should be censored on the net. And since India has 1/3rd of the world's population and China has another 1/3rds, we're essentially screwed if the UN works on a pure "democracy" basis.

    There are a lot of things I hate about the US, but free speech is NOT one of them. The first amendment is one of the most amazing pieces of legislation ever and people like me in India can only drool in envy. But I'm not complaining. Even if I don't personally live in a country where free speech is not...you know...free, at least I can be happy that it EXISTS somewhere on this planet. At least I can be grateful that my ideals are upheld SOMEWHERE.

    But give the Internet to the UN, and all that goes out of the window. I don't like the net being run by megacorps. But I like it being run by countries like dictatorial countries like China, India and the Middle East even less.
  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @02:46PM (#39127997)

    Aaaaand you neglect to point out that it was made that way for a reason. It's purpose wasn't to be the Justice League, populated only with the good and righteous Free Western World. If we wanted that, we would have made NATO and not the UN.

    The purpose of the UN was to get everyone together in the same room and talk. Sometimes that talk has been ugly, but by keeping everyone talking we can keep reminding ourselves that they are human, too, and maybe that kept us from destroying the planet in WWIII. And if something happens that's actually able to unite the UN in response? Well then there's a strong worldwide mandate to take action. It doesn't happen every time it should, but when it happens it works well.

    So yes, it's extremely important and I'm extremely happy that the UN included all those unfree hellholes, the Soviet Block, "ChiComs", and even Iran and Libya. It wouldn't have worked any other way, and it's possible neither you nor I would have "worked" either.

  • Really? All the US controls is the .com TLD (and some others), a component of DNS. The rest of the world could happily build their own Internet with their own DNS and completely cut out the US, if they were so inclined. It's not as if we control some key piece of infrastructure that no one else could possibly duplicate.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @03:02PM (#39128189)

    Yes, it did. And then the Opium Wars happened.

    Despite its own propaganda, the People's Republic of China is essentially a modern construct. The Chinese Empire you refer to certainly did not "always" have the same borders the PRC has today, any more than did the Russian Empire "always" have the same borders as the Soviet Union.

    The Chinese people are currently bound together more by force of will than any cultural affinity; the country doesn't even share a common spoken language. If the state loses enough power to maintain that for any reason, the resulting breakup would resemble the USSR if they're lucky, Yugoslavia if they're not.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @03:03PM (#39128215) Homepage

    You speak as though there would ultimately be some form of accountability for failure. Nope. Not going to happen. There will be a lot of political finger pointing over who "broke it" followed by a zillion government controlled solutions to the problem.

    Defective by design. Incompetent by choice. That's that path politicians around the world take. Nothing new.

  • Re:Two bad choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gorzek (647352) <gorzek@gmailREDHAT.com minus distro> on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @03:16PM (#39128409) Homepage Journal

    The Internet has simply become too big and too important to remain apolitical forever. Think of how much has changed just in the past few years:

    * Groups like Anonymous have done real-world damage to businesses and governments by bringing down servers and stealing private information.
    * Wikileaks has embarrassed numerous governments by exposing their dirty laundry and even illegal activities.
    * Twitter has been instrumental in organizing and spreading resistance movements, particularly during the Arab Spring.
    * Bitcoin has allowed underground economies like Silk Road to flourish.
    * The proliferation of strong encryption has presented new challenges for law enforcement and government eavesdropping.
    * Onion protocols like Tor make it easier for people to hide their illegal/rebellious activities.
    * The ease-of-use of BitTorrent and its clients have made copyright infringement easier than ever.

    Taken by themselves, each of these things is a nuisance at best. Taken as part of a larger pattern, governments around the world see the Internet as a platform that's simply out of their control. Under the pretense of stopping criminal activity, they would also gladly lock it down to quash dissent. What originally came to prominence as a new engine for business has evolved as a viable platform for organized dissidence as well as criminal activity. The difficulty is in fighting in the latter without stopping the former. I know around here, the preference would be to maximize freedom even if that means criminal elements remain unthwarted and unpunished. Unfortunately, most people understand too little of these issues and most governments are too singularly focused on serving their own interests to see the Internet as a global public good that should be preserved. Instead, it's considered another vector for terrorism, criminality, and disruption, and therefore it must be sanitized to make it into a more suitable vehicle for commerce and propaganda.

    Much of the business community would be happy to see the Internet become a "push" medium. Allowing users to generate content and express themselves opens site owners/operators up to more and more liability. I don't think it will ever come to outright banning of particular technologies, but policies, legal precedents, and broader governmental involvement in Internet affairs will result in a chilling effect, to the point that it won't be a good idea to speak your mind about most things, and the number of venues you'll have in which to do that will be limited anyway.

    I think we have a long way to go before that happens, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't fight it every step of the way.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @05:09PM (#39129827)

    You've got that completely wrong. The Left loves governments with records of human rights abuses, because they're "diverse". Haven't you notice that leftists and liberals, for all their talk about "human rights", "women's rights", etc., are always trying to make friends with Muslims, who have the most atrocious records in the world on those issues? The Left will be happy to hand control of the internet over to countries like Iran. However, the "Left" doesn't actually have any political power whatsoever.

    The Right, OTOH, will want to hand control over to some single private corporation (which gives them big campaign contributions), and let them do whatever they want, in the name of "deregulation" and "the free market".

    The politicians on the "Left" (who are on the Left in name only) will go right along with this, because they'll get big campaign contributions too. They might make a small show of opposing the Right's move to give a monopoly to a private corporation, but it'll amount to nothing but at election time, they'll tell their constituents "I tried to block this move, I really did, but I was overruled by those politicians on the Right".

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