Tuesday, November 08, 2005

United Nations Seeks Control of Internet

The United Nations will attempt to take over control of the Internet from the United States during the U.N. sponsored World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia later this month. Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota thinks granting control of the Internet to the U.N. would be a grave mistake. He made the reasons why very clear in his article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

The Internet faces a grave threat. We must defend it. We need to preserve this unprecedented communications and informational medium, which fosters freedom and enterprise. We can not allow the U.N. to control the Internet.

The threat is posed by the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society taking place later this month in Tunisia. At the WSIS preparatory meeting weeks ago, it became apparent that the agenda had been transformed. Instead of discussing how to place $100 laptops in the hands of the world's children, the delegates schemed to transfer Internet control into the hands of intrigue-plagued bureaucracies.

The low point of that planning session was the European Union's shameful endorsement of a plan favored by China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Cuba that would terminate the historic U.S. role in Internet government oversight, relegate both private enterprise and non-governmental organizations to the sidelines, and place a U.N.-dominated group in charge of the Internet's operation and future. The EU's declaration was a "political coup," according to London's Guardian newspaper, which predicted that once the world's governments awarded themselves control of the Internet, the U.S. would be able to do little but acquiesce.

Do we really want our freedom of speech and access to information controlled by a plan endorsed by the likes of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba? I surely don’t. We shouldn’t relinquish control of anything, internet or otherwise, to a group of countries best known for human rights abuses and speech regulation, nor to an organization such as the U.N. that turns a blind eye to these abuses and offers the representatives of these countries positions of high honor within their organization.

Senator Coleman also notes:

Nations like China, which are behind the U.N. plan to take control, censor their citizens' Web sites, and monitor emails and chat rooms to stifle legitimate political dissent. U.N. control would shield this kind of activity from scrutiny and criticism…

Allowing Internet governance to be politicized under U.N. auspices would raise a variety of dangers. First, it is wantonly irresponsible to tolerate any expansion of the U.N.'s portfolio before that abysmally managed and sometimes-corrupt institution undertakes sweeping, overdue reform. It would be equal folly to let Icann be displaced by the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union, a regulatory redoubt for those state telephone monopolies most threatened by the voice over Internet protocol revolution.

Also, as we expand the global digital economy, the stability and reliability of the Internet becomes a matter of security. Technical minutiae have profound implications for competition and trade, democratization, free expression and access to information, privacy and intellectual-property protection.

Senator Coleman is right! If we allow an organization as corrupt and as irresponsible as the U.N. to gain control over the Internet, we will live to regret it.


Thanks to: Stop the ACLU, Mudville Gazette, Outside the Beltway , NIF

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