Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Crovitz: The U.N.'s Internet Power Grab

Crovitz, Gordon. "Crovitz: The U.N.'s Internet Power Grab." The Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2012.

From the article: "It's easy to understand why countries like Russia, China and Iran would want to rewire the Internet, cutting off access to their citizens and undermining the idea of a World Wide Web. What's more surprising is that U.S. diplomats are letting authoritarian regimes hijack an obscure U.N. agency to undermine how the Internet works, including for Americans. Someone leaked the 212-page planning document being used by governments to prepare for the December conference. George Mason University researcher Eli Dourado summarized: "These proposals show that many ITU member states want to use international agreements to regulate the Internet by crowding out bottom-up institutions, imposing charges for international communication, and controlling the content that consumers can access online." The broadest proposal in the draft materials is an initiative by China to give countries authority over "the information and communication infrastructure within their state" and require that online companies "operating in their territory" use the Internet "in a rational way"—in short, to legitimize full government control. The Internet Society, which represents the engineers around the world who keep the Internet functioning, says this proposal "would require member states to take on a very active and inappropriate role in patrolling" the Internet. Several proposals would give the UN power to regulate online content for the first time, under the guise of protecting against computer malware or spam. Another proposal would give the U.N. authority over allocating Internet addresses." Read more