In a rare show of unity, US politicians across the political spectrum declared that a UN take over of the internet should be stopped.
Democratic and Republican government officials warned that a United Nations summit in December will lead to a virtual takeover of the internet if proposals from China, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are adopted.
Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican said that these were terrible ideas because they could allow “governments to monitor and restrict content or impose economic costs upon international data flows”.
Robert McDowell, a member of the Federal Communications Commission, was worried about the UN bringing in web-based taxes to fund the build-out of broadband infrastructure across the globe.
Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat whose district includes Facebook’s headquarters, said many countries “don’t share our view of the internet and how it operates”.
We think she means that the internet is supposed to run so that US companies become rich and controls are decided by whichever lobby group bribes Congressmen enough campaign funds.
Called the World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT, the summit will review a set of telecommunications regulations established in 1988.
The US claims that it is giving countries like Russia and China a chance to propose the UN to establish a new “information security” regime or create an alternative to ICANN.
The UN has been trying to take over control of the internet for some time. It is seen as giving the US government too much control over other countries affairs.
But the concern is that the more autocratic countries might draft technical standards to allow for methods of tracing the source of internet communications and stop user ability to remain anonymous.
Vint Cerf, Google’s chief internet evangelist, co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol, and former chairman of ICANN, told CNET that the ITU idea could lead to “top-down control dictated by governments” that could impact free expression, security, and other important issues.
At some levels this is correct. But the other side of the coin is equally true. Why should countries which don’t trust the US become forced to do what they are told by the Land of the Free?
In an ideal world giving the internet control to a single world body with no government control makes sense. After all, the internet does not belong to any one country. But the US distrust of anything the UN does is a factor here.
If the internet was controlled by the UN and it did bring in taxes to provide better internet connections worldwide, this would only be a good thing. It would be unlikely to be done at a business level, as the US fears, but at a government level, which the US is also against.