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UN Considering Control of the Internet 402

Dangerous_Minds writes "News has surfaced in the wake of the WikiLeaks story that the United Nations is mulling total inter-government regulation of the internet. The initiative was spearheaded by Brazil and supported by other countries including India, China, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Drew Wilson of ZeroPaid commented that while the Cablegate story may be bad, attempting to destroy WikiLeaks would only make matters worse for various governments around the world, given what happened when the music industry shut down Napster ten years ago."
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UN Considering Control of the Internet

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  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:47AM (#34586294)
    global standards for policing the internet
    Otherwise known as least common denominator. Say what you want about the US, but do you really want China and Saudi Arabia defining global internet standards?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lowest common denominator sounds nice. The set of regulations that all nation states can agree on should be fairly lightweight, and the decision making process involved in keeping it up to date far less agile than the network itself. Now if governments also agree not to add their own layers on top this would be total win.

    • What it means in Diplomatese is that they are going to set up a commiteee first, talk to each and every nation about their preferences, and then create a document, laying the bare minimum regulations that need to be imposed. Of course, some countries will not like this, and will not opt-in. A few will opt in, but the implementation will be so broken, that each country will set up its own regulation mechanism on the top of it. As these clash with the UN, the UN regulation mechanism will be completely broken.
      The UN cannot tie its own shoe laces. This will only justify the creation of a government approved 'regulation' process, which is often referred to as cencorship.
      The Internet was nice while it lasted.
      • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:06AM (#34586510)

        The Internet was nice while it lasted.

        If the difficulty US law enforcement has had in policing child pornography on the Internet is any indication, any mandated censorship is going to be very difficult to pull off. Every so often, people will get busted, but for the most part free speech online will be difficult to kill. Let them try to censor the Internet; we'll just see an age of common people learning more and more about cryptography, steganography, and computer security.

        Not that I think the Internet would be a nice place if everyone had to take those sorts of measures to protect their freedom of speech.

    • global standards for policing the internet
      Otherwise known as least common denominator. Say what you want about the US, but do you really want China and Saudi Arabia defining global internet standards?

      I'd answer that but I'm being held in isolation, without bail, on trumped up rape charges, sorry.

    • If I know politicians, there will be compromises that make both parties happy, but that make all of us less free. We'd agree to China's speech restrictions (no more mentioning Tiananmen Square, for example) and they would agree to tighten the clamp on IP protection in their country. Their government would walk away happy that everyone will only know the Chinese Government's account of Tiananmen Square (nothing happened) and our government will walk away happy (reporting "Mission Accomplished" to their lob

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Holy crap, I'm old!

  • How much more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:50AM (#34586322) Homepage
    Will nobody rid us of these lawyer politicians, whose only understanding of communication is how it can be used to control others? For countless millenia, these fools have been holding back humanity, calling themselves priests, or the aristocracy, or the upper class, or whatever. Enough! Can we not have a "normal people's congress" on the internet or something. They want to control the internet? I say let the internet control them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Can we not have a "normal people's congress" on the internet or something.
      Unless "normal people" is code for people who agree with you 100% of the time, no. After all normal people can't set their DVR to record a show, or find a printer on a network. You want "normal people" to decide how technology should be used?
      • No, I want normal people to be allowed to determine their own fates and communicate freely with one another without the intervention of those who dream themselves our masters.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, I want normal people to be allowed to determine their own fates and communicate freely with one another without the intervention of those who dream themselves our masters.

          But normal people don't want freedom. Normal people don't want to live without the intervention of masters - they want to be the masters who "help" all those other poor unfortunates out there. You want freedom to choose. Most people are paralyzed with choice, and elect politicians who offer them freedom from choice. Not because th

          • Re:How much more (Score:5, Interesting)

            by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:20AM (#34587538)

            "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

            Interesting quote. Here is another similar, but even more revealing, statement by Lewis: "The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent" (from Reflections on the Psalms, Chapter 3.).

            We have seen over the last half century a revolution in American political philosophy - that of self-justifying wealth. Ayn Rand style Objectivism/Libertarianism holds that self-interest is the highest moral principle and altruism is evil; wealth is proof of moral rectitude, and poverty is proof of sloth and moral degeneracy. This philosophy has provided us with the perfection of the robber baron, now dominating American political life - cupidity that is never satiated, and extinguishing all moral doubt. Wealth is virtue; there can be nothing wrong with how the wealthy acquire or use their wealth; there is nothing to repent, and thus there is no possibility that the robber baron will change.

    • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:29AM (#34586750) Homepage

      Their greatest trick has been making you believe that you aren't in control already, if you live in the United States. They thrive on your apathy. They rejoice whenever some new mindless form of entertainment takes over. That's why Iran left gaming lines open [kotaku.com] during their crackdown of democracy.

      Personally, I have no pity for the American public. We are receiving the democracy we are asking for, which is "whatever the powerful are willing to give me." The Tea Party just re-elected the only party that openly expresses more support for millionaires than it does for the middle class. The guy in the House who plays a major part in our environmental policy also quotes from Genesis to avoid discussion of the impact of climate change, because God promised that he wouldn't flood the earth again. (Despite some more barbaric claims in Revelation that He will indeed come back to destroy the world, and the claim that the rainbow is a symbol of God's promise, instead of a result of light refraction.)

      Regular Joes can't be bothered to give a shit about extrajudicial assassination, or trillions of dollars wasted on war. Until they can address those sorts of issues, I'm afraid the openness of the internet will be easy fodder for elite control.

    • Can we not have a "normal people's congress" on the internet or something?

      No, we can't. As we should well know, when it comes to Internet voting, the whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

      And even more so with politics, where big bucks are at stake and evil bastards trying to snag as much of that cash as possible through possibly illegitimate means. For instance, a corporate employer could require that their employees log a vote for the position that the cor

    • There *is* a normal people's congress (of sorts).

      We^h^hThey call themselves Anonymous

    • Re:How much more (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:16AM (#34587478)

      Can we not have a "normal people's congress" on the internet or something.

      The problem with The People is that it consists of, well, people. This is something revolutionary do-gooders have come face to face with many times throughout history; and ordinary people aren't highminded, good or noble, they are just average. They don't care all that much for liberty when it comes to it, they are not all that concerned about democracy or justice in general. They just want life to be relatively easy to live from day to day.

      Don't you realise that your democracy and your Congress etc were once exactly the "normal people's democracy/congress"? Only, normal people don't care enough to take part, so it always ends like this, and that is the fundamental problem we have to solve.

      Apart from that - what kind of ordinary people did you have in mind? What if it turned out that what a large majority really wanted was to to ban firearms? Or were in favour of something you would find intolerable - would you still want that kind of democracy? Ordinary people are not necessarily nice.

    • Re:How much more (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MindKata ( 957167 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:39AM (#34587850) Journal
      @”Will nobody rid us of these lawyer politicians, whose only understanding of communication is how it can be used to control others? “

      @Darkman, Walkin Dude ... Brilliantly said. Your whole post sums up so many centuries of problems, repeated all around the world, caused by these same kind of greedy, corrupt, two faced, lying, control freaks that each generation has to suffer.

      But then from so many diplomatic leaks, regardless of what we think of the leaks, one fact remains. We now have absolute confirmation our control freak governments (in almost every country) lie endlessly to us (so our leaders can get their own way and so they show they don't really work for us), yet they say they represent us even though their actions prove they are really seeking to deceive us. That isn't Democracy. It shows we are really dealing with an increasingly Authoritarian lying greedy Kleptocracy which is increasingly showing signs of becoming an outright Totalitarian Dictatorship. Worse still its becoming a global problem.

      But then the act of seeking power over someone else, is the act of seeking to dictate their will over the wishes of others. So is it any wonder people who seek power over others end up seeking to dictate their will over us on the Internet. After all, the Internet is helping to highlight how much our power hungry leaders lie to us and so don't really represent us. They know if we see the truth, we can argue against them, so they lie to us, for their own greedy gain.

      If that isn't bad enough, here's a shocking dictionary definition that shows how bad our lying greedy leaders actions really are against all of us. See if you can guess the word it defines. "A violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state. The betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery." The word it defines is Treason. Its shocking to think of it, but our leaders really our in complete betrayal of our trust and confidence; breach of faith; treachery against their entire country, all for their own greedy gain. They really are showing acts of Treason!. They don't represent us, even though they say they do, when they want us to vote them into power.

      Some countries still have the death sentence for Treason. So is it any wonder more people are getting angry at all our leaders in most countries and why our leaders seek to control the Internet even more, to cut off ways for us to see the truth and discuss what our leaders are doing.

      The Internet has revolutionised many industries already so perhaps its time it also revolutionised the management of everyone where openness is forced into our two faced leaders, to stop them being able to lie to us all. After all if they want to represent us, then they take the job on that basis.
  • I are a Brazilian, and I say NO to this.
  • Now they have an excuse, and all hell is going to break loose.

    Sorry for the accidental rhyming.
  • These people seem to forget that the more you fight against freedom of information, the harder information (and those seeking to protect it) will push back in return. The internet is powered by the Barbra Streisand Effect.
    • by Spad ( 470073 )

      Thing is, reality is not a movie. Rarely do the well-intentioned, rag-tag band of rebels overthrow the evil world government and usher in a new era of freedom and prosperity.

      • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:09AM (#34586532)

        Thing is, reality is not a movie. Rarely do the well-intentioned, rag-tag band of rebels overthrow the evil world government and usher in a new era of freedom and prosperity.

        Usually, when the well-intentioned, rag-tag band of rebels do win, the resulting government devolves into a totalitarian regime as bad as what was deposed. In the US, our view is skewed because our well-intentioned, rag-tag band of rebels was not headed by such. Recall that some wanted to make Washington King of America, but he bared his wooden teeth at them and refused.

  • One World Government, here we come!
    • I'd rather my One World Government be run out the Hague than Washington, thank you very much. At least the Hague is farther away.

  • So what impact would this group have on things such as 'Cyberwar'? A number of the governments mentioned in the article have sunk Billions of dollars into the development of such programs - I doubt they'd be happy to just 'write it off'.

    Would this group go after China for hacking the Google servers? Or would it focus on catching nefarious individuals wanted for questioning? (Sorry Interpol - you might do decent things, but you deserve to catch flack for that.)

    Would this group ease extradition between coun

  • by evanism ( 600676 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:58AM (#34586434) Journal
    Even our own. Threaten their power and they will take us out. It is time to fight back, reassert public control and or natural freedoms. Encryption everywhere, massive obsfuction via dns sprays, dummy requests and TOR. Fight these bastards!!!!!!
    • It's so hilarious, because this attitude is exactly what the Tea Party/Republicans/Blue Dogs/Obama are using to increase authoritarianism in the US. If people believed that government can be used to provide greater benefits to its citizens, they would participate more in governance, and their government would do things for them, instead of to them. Instead, they've been scared into thinking that all government is bad, and they either stop voting or vote for "small government" Republicans who in turn make th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:00AM (#34586452)

    I'm from South Africa and I cannot believe a government that was once itself censored heavily, and violently when speaking out against such censorship, is now becoming one of it's staunchest supporters. First (draft) domestic legislation regulating what newspapers can publish, and now this.

    Freedom? No, it doesn't seem to me like that was the end-goal of the struggle.

  • There are already over 2000 Wikileaks mirrors [wikileaks.ch], so it's going to next to impossible to shut it down in the first place.

  • by Tom Rothamel ( 16 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:03AM (#34586468) Homepage

    News has surfaced in the wake of Thursday that the UN is mulling total inter-governmental regulation of the internet.

    The UN has wanted control of the net for a while now, the WikiLeaks thing is just the excuse of the day for trying to take it.If it wasn't WikiLeaks, it would be some other reason.

    • by Tim C ( 15259 )

      The UN has wanted control of the net for a while now

      Along with every other world power.

    • It is not so much "the UN" as "a group of authoritarian governments." The Internet enables freedom of speech. The Saudis kingdom and the Chinese communist party, to give two examples, don't like that. They have tried very hard to build their own nation wide firewalls, in the name of protecting religion or political harmony. But firewalls cannot control what happens outside of their borders.

      They would go under the name of "internet governance" and argue against "US domination", but he dream of dictatures i

  • It'll hasten the spread of P2P DNS by a good bit.

  • Sure, UN, Sure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Publikwerks ( 885730 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:10AM (#34586536)
    The UN can't get pisspot dictators to stop comitting genocide, does it REALLY think it's going to be able to do anything with really powerful nations? Especially with the US, we don't want to give up control. So the UN thinks it can force the US to do so?
  • NO controls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:14AM (#34586566) Journal

    Hang on, all these countries that want control of the internet, they are some of the biggest despots out there and love censorship. Why don't they have their own version like China, and keep everyone else that loves freedom and democracy stick to the "Wild Wild West" internet.

    The UN are a bunch of retards who's time to disbanding has come. They claim to represent international laws, but enforce them for some countries, and ignore others. Get rid of the UN.

  • Just Say No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valen0 ( 325388 ) <(vt.ratsnevle) (ta) (leahcim)> on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:16AM (#34586598)

    Let me get this straight: The Emperor was caught with his pants down, some people took pictures and posted it to etc.com, people started learning via etc.com that the Emperor has no clothes on, and now the Emperor wants to ban all knowledge of the incident by destroying the greatest communications invention since the printing press. I think the approach in this situation is completely wrong. Several common sayings such as "we had to destroy the village in order to save it," "shoot first and ask questions later," and "shoot the messenger" all come to mind and none of them should be encouraged.

    I propose the following solution to the problem: Do a comprehensive security audit of the information and everyone that had access to it. Find out who leaked the information, how they received access to the information, and how they removed the information from secured storage. In addition, do a comprehensive audit on the classification of documents. Having a minimal amount of classified material will cut down on the risk of loosing it. Document classification should be used to guard national security interests (e.g. the keys to the castle) instead of hiding potentially embarrassing material or promoting a political agenda. When you have successfully identified the responsible party and method of attack, fix the glitch and prosecute the offender to the fullest extent of the law. The Internet does not need collective punishment for the actions of a select few individuals.

    • No, it's more like this:

      Emperor A got depantsed. Emperors B,C,SoA, and SaA propose standardizing pants to prevent depantsing.

    • Re:Just Say No (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cronius ( 813431 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:35AM (#34587776)

      Having a minimal amount of classified material will cut down on the risk of loosing it. Document classification should be used to guard national security interests (e.g. the keys to the castle) instead of hiding potentially embarrassing material or promoting a political agenda.

      Just a comment on that: None of the cables that wikileaks has their hands on are classified as top secret. That's why a lot of it is basically gossip: It was given a low classification because it's simply unimportant (which is why someone was able to so easily get their hands on it, if the rumour of the press is correct). So in that regards, the classification system is working as intended: The really nasty stuff (US national security etc.) is literally top secret and still remains undisclosed.

      Wikileaks cables:

      # 15, 652 secret
      # 101,748 confidential
      # 133,887 unclassified

  • by cstacy ( 534252 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:21AM (#34586660)
    They are merely proposing common sense communication safety legislation. Surely we can all get on board with that? Do you have any idea how many injuries and injustices unpoliced thought caused last year?
    • What's really sad here is that I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or if you honestly believe that. I'm really hoping it's the former.
  • Serendipitously, this article [reason.com] about the first war on terror - governmental suppression of 19th century peaceful anarchists - was just published by Reason.

    The authorities made extensive use of agents provocateurs because the anarchists were too peaceful to be threatening enough. Accidental side effects included the Russian Revolution and the exacerbation of the First World War (which events of course led to the Second World War and the Cold War).

    It looks like history is repeating itself.

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:22AM (#34586672) Homepage Journal
    No freedom of information means no freedom of choice. You could hang the label you want over the governments after that gets passed, but none would really be democracy.
    • Think again (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This IS democracy. It just isn't what you dreamed it would be. Quite a rude awakening, isn't it?

      I have long believed that democracy is every bit as likely to deteriorate into authoritarianism as monarchy, dictatorship, communism, or any other form of government you can name -- possibly even more likely since democracy removes the element of ownership from government. A king, for example, wouldn't be nearly as quick to risk billions on war, because those billions actually belong to him, and he actually risks

  • And that is.. controlling people. When things start getting out of hand, they start enforcing and censoring stuff. Like they want to do with internet now, because internet is biggest threat to them. Internet is communication freedom.

    Authority never liked that, because it undermines their power to do what they want. Religion... Governments, no difference there. All they want is power. And if people don't rise up now, and let their voices be heard, whatever the cost, we and future generations are properly scr

    • by KlomDark ( 6370 )

      Religion and sex are power plays
      Manipulate the people for the money they pay
      Selling skin, selling God
      The numbers look the same on their credit cards
      -- Queensryche (Operation Mindcrime) - Spreading the Disease

  • That this subject has came up after all of the media hype about Wikileaks?
  • Next up: UN considering control of gravity, also considering extensions to other laws of physics.
  • Inclusive ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:53AM (#34587104)

    The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has been grinding along for almost five years, so this is something of late news. Unlike the Australian commenter in the original article, the process is inclusive only as to governments, not people or even NGOs. This has the Internet Society (ISOC) worried enough that they have an online petition on it :

    The UN Needs to Ensure an Open and Inclusive Approach to Internet Governance [ipetitions.com]

    (Yes, you will get a fundraising pitch at the end, but that's not the reason for this petition.)

  • ...has anyone considered that those ideals that are contained or implied in the US constitution only apply to USians?

    Think about it. It makes sense.

  • "Strike freedom down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!"
  • Are they insane? Do they have any idea what this will do to the economy, let alone the precious information they are trying to hide? It's almost like...wait, it's the UN?

    Nevermind. Here's hoping they'll be as effective in this initiative as they are in everything else.

  • UN = Bad Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @12:17PM (#34588454)

    The United Nations was a horrid mistake like the League of Nations before it.

    World government by lawfare in a world mostly composed of anti-freedom governments was never a good idea. People should fear international law more than its absence.

    Law is fine locally, useless internationally, because in the international context being free of law is an overwhelming advantage.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday December 17, 2010 @12:27PM (#34588572)

    By the time they finally agree on a resolution, there is no longer an internet to govern.

    Plus, whatever they'll agree on will be SO watered down that it amounts to little more than "look, we did something!"

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault