Sunday, October 09, 2005

We're the UN, and we're here to help

Grab your guns, and bolt the door. The UN wants to take control of the Internet:

Kofi Annan, Coming to a Computer Near You! The Internet's long run as a global cyberzone of freedom--where governments take a "hands off" approach--is in jeopardy. Preparing for next month's U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (or WSIS) in Tunisia, the European Union and others are moving aggressively to set the stage for an as-yet unspecified U.N. body to assert control over Internet operations and policies now largely under the purview of the U.S. In recent meetings, for an example, an EU spokesman asserted that no single country should have final authority over this "global resource."

To his credit, the U.S. State Department's David Gross bristled back: "We will not agree to the U.N. taking over management of the Internet." That stands to reason. The Internet was developed in the U.S. (as are upgrades like Internet 2) and is not a collective "global resource." It is an evolving technology, largely privately owned and operated, and it should stay that way.

Nevertheless the "U.N. for the Internet" crowd say they want to "resolve" who should have authority over Internet traffic and domain-name management; how to close the global "digital divide"; and how to "harness the potential of information" for the world's impoverished. Also on the table: how much protection free speech and expression should receive online.

While WSIS conferees have agreed to retain language enshrining free speech (despite the disapproval of countries that clearly oppose it) this is not a battle we've comfortably won. Some of the countries clamoring for regulation under the auspices of the U.N.--such as China and Iran--are among the most egregious violators of human rights.

Meanwhile, regulators across the globe have long lobbied for greater control over Internet commerce and content. A French court has attempted to force Yahoo! to block the sale of offensive Nazi materials to French citizens. An Australian court has ruled that the online edition of Barron's (published by Dow Jones, parent company of The Wall Street Journal and this Web site), could be subjected to Aussie libel laws--which, following the British example, is much more intolerant of free speech than our own law. Chinese officials--with examples too numerous for this space--continue to seek to censor Internet search engines.

The bolded quotes above should alone strike fear into anyone who has seen the rise of the internet as an indispensible resource for the expansion of freedom and commerce across the globe. Closing the "digital divide" will be accomplished as the global economy drives modern technology into the hands of third world consumers, and requires no ownership of the internet by a world body. The UN can only, at best, slow the pace at which emerging economies adopt internet technologies. At worst it will make these technologies a servant to trans-national ideologues and anti-American, anti-capitalist identity groups. "Free speech concerns" is a coded phrase for multi-cultural, politically correct censorship.

The biggest enemy that the world's impoverished have right now is the UN and the cadre of anti-globalist NGOs that are currently making a mess of every "development" effort that they are engaged in. Ceding authority over the internet to this body is to put the most powerful technological enabler of global economic growth and political freedom in the hands of an organization that values neither of these things.


Blogger Peter Burnet said...

But won't it be fun to watch the folks at Dailykos argue that they should be put under Chinese/Russian/Iranian, etc. surveillance and control?

If this issue gains any traction and profile, it will be analagous to the debate over nuclear proliferation, where the left has locked itself increasingly into a "We're agin' them, but if we have them, everyone should have them" mindset. Their complete rejection of any notion that the U.S. and the West are politically superior (or even any language that would allow such a question to be debated) has led them into some very dark corners. I remember Rumsfeld being asked why the U.S. was so adamant against nuclear proliferation in the Middle East when everyone knew Israel had them. His answer: "I think you know very well what the answer to that question is." gave the poor dears on the left fits of the vapours.

October 10, 2005 3:20 AM  
Blogger ioio said...

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October 11, 2005 3:06 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Not for long you don't, ioio. We're counting on the UN to stop all that kind of nonsense.

October 11, 2005 3:56 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Since the UN's incompetence is infinite (Proof: the UN could not organize a drunk-fest in a brewery), I'm not going to lay awake nights worrying about this.

However, it boggles the mind that there are people who have concluded regulating the internet is both advisable and possible.

This could be a NY Times headline: "Internet Flourishes, Women and Minorities Suffer Most"

October 11, 2005 1:28 PM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

More excellent discussion about this topic here.

The upshot is, there's no chance whatsoever that the Internet will be controlled by the UN, or any other non-American organization, at least until some other nation develops more consumers than are found in America.

October 16, 2005 7:00 AM  

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