The Internet was devised by U.S. military researchers in the 1960s, and under U.S. auspices it has flourished into the omnipresent tool of communications, information and entertainment it is today.
Now that it is running so well, other nations think that they ought to take it over, that what the Internet needs is more supervision by other governments, preferably through the United Nations. The effort at imposing international control on the Internet is being led by a handful of nations, including China, Iran and Cuba, which should tell you something.
This wouldn’t normally amount to much except that at a preliminary meeting to the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society next month the European Union suddenly and unexpectedly dropped its objections to handing the Internet over to international regulation.
Amid much flapdoodle about “international cooperation,” the advocates of Internet regulation resent the United States for too much power, too much control and _ how they love this world _ too much hegemony. It doesn’t take any great insight to realize that what most of these countries want is control over the information their peoples have access to. It’s a short step from controlling the means of communication to controlling what is communicated.
At that preliminary meeting, the delegates tried to have representatives from private industry and public interest groups thrown out of the room and, reported The Economist, “In one instance, delegates from China and Brazil actually pounded on tables to drown out a speaker from industry.”
And these are the people we want running the Internet? Not a chance.
The Internet, as the Chinese can aver, is tough to control and one of the few ways to do it is have the power to assign domain names. That is currently held by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit set up by the U.S. Commerce Department. With the exception of a dustup this summer over a proposed .xxx domain name for pornography, it has operated without government interference.
Given the importance of the Internet to world commerce and economic growth, the United States owes other governments a continued commitment to noninterference. And nations are still free to regulate within their own national domains.
The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” aside, handing the Internet over to the U.N. is a terrible idea.
(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)