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The Internet Censorship Your Rights Online Technology

Imagine A UN-Run Internet 860

Posted by timothy
from the nightmare-material dept.
Damon Dimmick writes "Small countries in the United Nations have been arguing to put the Internet under the control of the UN so that countries can more easily monitor (read: control) Internet content. It's on hold for now, but this could become a very real censorship problem, very soon. Some nations have gone so far as to suggest "monitoring boards" for internet content. Here is the link to the Financial Times article. It briefly describes the current situation. Just something to keep an eye on."
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Imagine A UN-Run Internet

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  • un-run is right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by infinite9 (319274) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:40PM (#7438898)
    Imagine A UN-Run Internet

    A prophetic subject line? If they run it as well as other things, the internet may be un-run.
    • Re:un-run is right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ender81b (520454) <billd AT inebraska DOT com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:55PM (#7439098) Homepage Journal
      Oh come on now, the UN has done some very good things over the past 50 years. A few, off the top of my head:
      • No world wars in 50+ years
      • Has negotiated and enforced many peace treaties throughout that time.
      • Economic and other sanctions have had positive effects on some countries.
      • WHO has done some fantastic work in the 3rd world.
      • Is the world's first supra-national organization and, more remarkably, has had its power seriously challenged only a few times.
      • Has, respectively, saved the countries of Korea, Kuwait,and many others i'm forgetting by using multinational forces to defeat a common agressor enemy.


      Is the UN that great? Well no, but it has at least contributed to world peace, stability and such throughout its existence. Its main flaws being that it isn't really above an individual nation states power and is especially vulnerable to the power of the US.
      • Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomai AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:01PM (#7439158) Homepage
        No world wars in 50+ years

        Nope, just a whole bunch of "little" wars in non-Western-European nations that have killed millions over the years.

        Is the world's first supra-national organization and, more remarkably, has had its power seriously challenged only a few times.

        What about the League of Nations? Or for that matter, the Hanseatic League?

      • Re:un-run is right (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jhunsake (81920) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:09PM (#7439236) Journal
        No world wars in 50+ years

        The UN has nothing to do with this. It's the more powerful countries that have prevented this from happening. Do you honestly think the UN could do shit if the US and China decided to go at it?

        Has negotiated and enforced many peace treaties throughout that time.

        Negotiated, yes. Enforced, no. In fact, more than half of all international treaties are violated on a regular basis, and many are simply ignored because they've been violated so much.

        Economic and other sanctions have had positive effects on some countries.

        WHO has done some fantastic work in the 3rd world.


        True.

        Is the world's first supra-national organization and, more remarkably, has had its power seriously challenged only a few times.

        Wrong, but another poster already addressed it.

        Has, respectively, saved the countries of Korea, Kuwait,and many others i'm forgetting by using multinational forces to defeat a common agressor enemy.

        What saved Kuwait was oil, and those that need it. Has Korea been saved yet? Hardly.

        I think you should read more. The UN is a joke (outside of it's humanity/charity functions).
        • Re:un-run is right (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ender81b (520454)
          The UN has nothing to do with this. It's the more powerful countries that have prevented this from happening. Do you honestly think the UN could do shit if the US and China decided to go at it?

          No, most definatley not. The UN does, however, give them the chance to negoiate their differences fairly peacefully as well as allow other nations of the world ot exert pressure to prevent war.

          I maintain that the UN is the world's first supra-national organization, before league of nations, simply because LN did
          • Re:un-run is right (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Art Tatum (6890)
            UN might be a joke, but it's the best we have.

            The only good thing about the U.N. is that it's relatively powerless. Conglomeration of government power (whether nationalization or internationalization) is a monopoly; and monopolies in government are even worse than monopolies in economics.

            Businesses compete on product features, prices, service, and goodwill (with certain customers, at least). Governments compete on favorable laws and regulations (or lack thereof). The more we centralize governments, the

      • Re:un-run is right (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DAldredge (2353)
        How has the UN enforced anything?
      • Re:un-run is right (Score:4, Insightful)

        by John Murdoch (102085) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:46PM (#7439649) Homepage Journal

        Hi!

        Has, respectively, saved the countries of Korea, Kuwait,and many others i'm forgetting by using multinational forces to defeat a common agressor enemy.

        Um--this is something of a stretch. This point might be better phrased "has been used as political cover by the United States to save the countries of South Korea, Kuwait, and many others...." Military intervention by member countries with limited U.N. involvement (South Korea, Kuwait) has been very successful. Military intervention led by the U.N. by itself (particularly where the U.S./NATO has not been involved) has been generally disastrous. I give you Lebanon; the Ivory Coast, Somalia, and any number of other horrid conflicts in Africa; the list goes on and on. Dictators and despots diss the U.N. because they know the U.N. is there to be "peacekeepers." They respect the U.S. because they can watch CNN--and they are well aware that the U.S. doesn't do "peacekeeping" nearly as well as it does killing people. And the U.S. military has a centuries-long tradition of taking "head shots"--gunning for the guy giving the orders.

        That doesn't mean the U.N. is a total bust
        Not at all. It just hasn't been very credible as a military force. Where it has been extremely credible is in creating a forum for international discussion--both directly and through other forums like the WTO. The U.N. has made a major impact on international trade and the environment through the licensing and monitoring of hazardous materials, the development of international air rules, the development of international shipping rules, and all kinds of dull, dreary, drudgery that doesn't make the front page. The U.N. has played a big role as a forum for Third World countries to state their case--and to build their economies. (The biggest impact for the poorest nations is that they get essentially free trade representation in New York City--the biggest marketplace in the world.) Dozens of poor countries have staked their plans for development on the manufacture of cheap textiles--and the U.N. provides cheap access to the buyers in the biggest market in the world.

        The U.N. is better at organizing meetings than it is as a functioning governing body
        Where the U.N. has been the most successful is in bringing people together in a common forum. Where the U.N. has been the most laughable is when it attempts to assert authority over something in which it has played no part, has no existing role, and to which it can contribute nothing. It was a U.N. agency, you may recall, that proposed an email "tax"--demonstrating that it knew absolutely nothing about how email worked.

        In short...
        The U.N. should focus on trying to negotiate realistic limits on fisheries protection and related maritime law--and leave the Internet to the geeks who run it. Or failing that, to the people who actually fund it and own it.

  • by bgog (564818) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:40PM (#7438899) Journal
    Well then, we just have the US intranet. We only export those sites who wish to be under the UN's thumb. I find it very difficult to have respect for governments who think they need to control the information their populous sees.
  • I imagine the International Telecommunications Union would make a better fist of it than ICANN.

    Conflating "monitoring boards" with this proposal looks to me like shroud-waving.
    • I must assume this was a sarcastic post. The ITU is perhaps one of the most unfit organizations for this or even it's own purpose that exists today. Basically, it is composed of representitives from different countries, true; however, unlike the IETF, for example, they don't nessisary represent true "experts" in their chosen field. For example, US representation in the ITU is appointed by the State Department.

      The ITU has a history of mandating REQUIRED international standards that include patented (and
  • UN Effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Davak (526912) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:43PM (#7438924) Homepage
    Since USA is just a dominate force in the UN, would this really affect us? Yes... it may decrease our freedom of press!

    Defenders of the status quo say handing over power to governments could threaten the untrammelled flow of information and ideas that many see as the very essence of the borderless internet.

    The internet is based on the ability to put up a web page and shout out my message to whoever wishes to wander by. It's even more powerful than dead-tree press because it reaches more people in a quicker fashion.

    UN control is just that--control.

    Not only do I not want UN control... I want as little government control as possible! Inforce the laws of your own country on the people in your own country... and leave the rest of us alone.

    Davak
    • All the world says,
      "I am important;
      I am separate from all the world.
      I am important because I am separate,
      Were I the same, I could never be important."

      Yet here are three treasures
      That I cherish and commend to you:
      The first is compassion,
      By which one finds courage.
      The second is restraint,
      By which one finds strength.
      And the third is unimportance,
      By which one finds influence.

      Those who are fearless, but without compassion,
      Powerful, but without restraint,
      Or influential, yet important,
      Cannot endure.

      ~Lau Tsu, Ta
    • UN control is just that--control

      and US control is just that--control

      Some of us want the internet to be free of US control as well. I think that there should be freedom of speech on the internet but that is just a dream. Currently the US wants DMCA, *IAA etc. and the rest of the world does not see why the US should restrict what they do.

      What I fear from this idea is that it will end up being restricted by everybody. US, China, Israel, France... they all have their own axes to grind.
  • US bad, US good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:43PM (#7438925) Homepage Journal
    However, the US and the European Commission are staunchly defending the Icann model, which is based on minimal regulation and commercial principles. Icann members are predominantly drawn from industrialised countries and the established internet community.

    So now, we're rooting for the much-maligned ICANN institution... I guess that's not such a cognitive dissonance now that they've actually faced up to Verisign -- though the end of that story is yet to be written [whois.sc].

    Interesting that this should come up on the same day that NPR's Morning Edition [npr.org] (just audio, sorry) reported that the US is blocking an attempt by UNESCO to allow countries to subsidize their national film industries to preserve cultural identity.

    In one corner, we have the US: protector of political free speech and homogenous corporate culture.

    In the other, we have the rest of the world: protector of political speech restriction and diverse cultural heritage.

    Damn, it's hard to know what side to root for these days.
    • "Interesting that this should come up on the same day that NPR's Morning Edition (just audio, sorry) reported that the US is blocking an attempt by UNESCO to allow countries to subsidize their national film industries to preserve cultural identity."

      What makes you think that these government subsidizes to "preserve culture" wouldn't be used to preserve the governments views on what the culture ought to be? It's just another form of censorship. People find Western culture to be alluring, they are adopting i
    • Re:US bad, US good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by saforrest (184929) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:20PM (#7439341) Homepage Journal
      In the other, we have the rest of the world: protector of political speech restriction...

      Perhaps you could be so good as to remind me when exactly we of the rest of the world came out in favour of 'political speech restriction'?

      Wasn't it Ari Fleischer who suggested that "Americans should watch what they say"?

    • Re:US bad, US good (Score:3, Insightful)

      by leerpm (570963)
      Root for ICANN. As bad as they are, at least the people on that board have a reasonable sense of what they are doing.

      If you put control of the Internet under the umbrella of the UN, we will see situations like what happened with South Africa [slashdot.org].
  • Wow! (Score:4, Informative)

    by damu (575189) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:43PM (#7438926) Journal
    This is just some goverments trying to get someone else to do their work dirty work. Look at China, they do their own monitoring, they monitor what is withing their 'Domain' content hosted in their country, and content coming into their country, that is the way it should be.

    PS:I am not saying that what China is doing is correct, all I am saying is that they are monitoring their nation's internet from their nation, the way it should be.
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:43PM (#7438928)
    If the UN runs the Internet (which may not even be possible, to "run" the Internet), then "unapproved" content will be simply circulated by other means, radio, underground printing press, word-of-mouth, etc. It's the old adage - when encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will use encryption. This type of move is a pure power grab. This is analogous to the MPAA demanding a "broadcast flag" in digital TV streams, or the RIAA stomping on webcasters (despite the fact that analog radio is free, and IT IS LEGAL TO RECORD FROM).
  • by mgcsinc (681597)
    "are growing dissatisfied with the workings of California-based Icann (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the semi-private internet address regulator set up five years ago."

    I've read many slashdot gripes about some of the horors of the ICANN/Verisign run Internet, but never before heard these used as an excuse for state-sponsored control/censorship of the Internet. Really, even if they manage to work out the logistical headache (read: 120 years at least) this kind of thing would tak
  • "We don't like the fact that someone else has more influence over something we want. Let's propose a shift in power".

    Frankly I think the US deserves to have the lion's share of the market. They made it so, they should reap the benefits. If anyone else wants to join the party, fine, but you don't walk into a rave and expect anyone to listen to your demands to make it a cocktail party instead!"

    By the way, I'm not from the USA.

    Simon.
  • by nickgrieve (87668) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:46PM (#7438968) Journal
    Bet those freenet guys are feeling smug.
  • We have governments to protect against theft, murder, rape, etc. Governments also help to build big community oriented projects such as highways and bridges, and provide services to the community.

    Governments are already serving both of those roles on the internet already. If my credit card info is stolen on-line, the FBI will try to track the criminal. Ditto for terrorists who try to organize on-line and pedophiliacs who try to lure kids on-line. Governments are also already providing on-line servi
  • Oh, great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by annielaurie (257735) <{annekmadison} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:47PM (#7438981) Journal
    Replace one sluggish bureaucracy with another one that's even larger and more sluggish. Then stand back and watch the fights about funding and budgetary contributions. That should be very helpful.
  • I am all for getting 3rd world countries on the internet. I've grown bored of the current 'nature videos' and would like to see the 'nature videos' from places like Sri Lanka, Yemen, and Belize. I can only imagine what can be done with a nose ring, a walking stick, a camel, and a 2 liter pop bottle. (errr...... did I just type that? shit.)
  • by lkaos (187507) <anthony.codemonkey@ws> on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:51PM (#7439042) Homepage Journal
    The UN can try to regulate things all they want. In the US at least, it's all but meaningless. Why?

    Well, for the US to even recognize a UN ruling requires approval of the president and 2/3 of the House and Senate. Technically, UN rulings are considered treaties. Even when it's recognized, it still requires an act of Congress to enact some sort of legislation before anyone can be prosecuted.

    The one thing our government does well is ensuring that we're the only ones making bonehead laws that are enforcable in this country.
    • Well, for the US to even recognize a UN ruling requires approval of the president and 2/3 of the House and Senate. Technically, UN rulings are considered treaties. Even when it's recognized, it still requires an act of Congress to enact some sort of legislation before anyone can be prosecuted.

      And treaties cannot conflict with the Constitution. Such a treaty would fly in the face of the first amendment, and wouldn't stand a chance in hell.
    • "Well, for the US to even recognize a UN ruling requires approval of the president and 2/3 of the House and Senate."
      1. The House isn't involved in ratifying treaties.
      2. Depending on how one wants to look at it, any future move by the UN like this was already ratified by the US Senate over fifty years ago when the US signed the UN Charter to begin with
    • You are forgetting the recent infatuation some of our Supreme Court justices have with international law. They trump Congress.
  • I highly, highly doubt the U.S. would go for something like this. Given that we control a good portion of the Internet at this point, makes it kind of moot if we don't sign on.

    Now as to U.S. censorship and monitoring of the Internet, that I'd worry about.
  • by sielwolf (246764) on Monday November 10, 2003 @07:53PM (#7439070) Homepage Journal
    with their choice of putting Libya [hrw.org] as the Human Rights chair.

    Luckily the UN is a flaccid organization with no territory or armies of its own. What would it plan to do? Begin a humanitarian mission to the Web by dropping a bunch of Kenyan and Spanish troops near all the root servers?

    Yeah right.
  • The critics argue that the internet is a public resource that should be managed by national governments and, at an international level, by an intergovernmental body such as the International Telecommunications Union, the UN agency that is organising the information summit.

    There should be no way one council should hold control over the internet. This is similar to the US trying to dictate who could fly over someone elses airspace. There is way too much room for abuse but people with agendas. It's bad enoug

  • Imagine the internet run along these lines. Everyone gets to censor whatever they (or their government or puppets) don't like or find offensive. Pretty much nothing at all would escape.

    You might as well shut the whole thing down now.

  • It's fine (well, not fine, but traditional) for countries to censor the internet within their own boundaries. That's what the top level domains are about. Of course, if they want a centralized control over what comes in from outside, then this means that they have to censor all communications coming in from outside. That seems fair. (Actually, I feel that it makes things too easy for them, but sattelite nets aren't practical yet.)

    But the UN? One bad decision binding everyone? (And it would be guarant
  • Worst case: The UN decides to take over the internet.

    First, they have to pass a resolution to decide to take over the internet. 2-3 years at best.

    Next, they need to set up a committee that will decide upon the best way to do this. Countries will argue about who gets to be on this comittee and so forth. 3-4 years.

    Next, the Comittee will decide upon how to control all the world's routers and connections going between countries. Every time they are about to release a plan, some piss-ant podunk country

  • ...the UN has been rather helpless whenever ignored by member states. What is the UN going to do that Interpol etc. doesn't do today? If they are nothing more than an UN backbone to the Internet, they won't change much. Even ICANNs power is limited in many ways, and I don't think the UN will be able to provide any more effective regulation than today. What do they expect the UN to do, create an "Internet EULA"?

    Kjella
  • by BrianH (13460) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:03PM (#7439166)
    The UN needs to get smacked back into place. They are NOT a world government...heck, they aren't even really democratic. They are, for all intents and purposes, a bunch of bureaucrats appointed by their governments to acts as puppets to the wills of their respective national leaders. Even then, their votes aren't really equal, with the handful of Security Council members controlling the real passage of resolutions and the direction of the UN.

    I support the concept of world government, but before the UN can assume that role, a few things need to happen.
    1. The UN needs a split houses concept similar to the US and other democratic nation. One house gets a number of representatives dependent on a nations population, and in the other house all nations have equal numbers of representatives. This is the ONLY fair way to ensure that all nations are heard regardless of size or population.
    2. Abolish the security council. It made sense 50 years ago, but not today.
    3. All representatives should be ELECTED by the people in their nations, with reasonably limited terms (5 or six years max). If these people are going to determine my fate and run my Internet, I'd damned well better get a say in who represents me. Undemocratic nations that don't allow their citizens to vote should NOT get voting seats in the UN.
    4. It should respect the constitutions of its member nations. The UN should not have the ability to override, veto, or limit decisions or rights made or granted by their sovereign member states.
    You'll pardon me for not holding my breath for these changes. The UN is a flawed, crippled organization that tries to grab onto any semblance of real power that it can, and it's in the interests of this worlds powerful nations to make sure it stays right where it is.
    • It should respect the constitutions of its member nations. The UN should not have the ability to override, veto, or limit decisions or rights made or granted by their sovereign member states.
      The U.S. should respect the constitutions of its member nations. The federal government should not have the ability to override, veto, or limit decisions or rights made or granted by their soverign member states. -Southern worldview pre-Civil War...
    • It should respect the constitutions of its member nations. The UN should not have the ability to override, veto, or limit decisions or rights made or granted by their sovereign member states.

      Iraqi Constitution Article 983582: The right of Iraq to develop weapons of mass destruction and use them on all Infidel cities shall not be abridged.

      You do realize how stupid your suggestion is, I hope?
  • A) Such a treaty would never be approved by the US Senate.

    B) If it were, it would never pass a constitutional challenge.

    C) If it did, the UN doesn't have enough of an understanding of what the internet is, much less how it works.

    D) If they can figure it out, their entire annual budget couldn't possibly pay for the bandwidth, hardware, software (almost certainly Microsoft, after all) and technical expertise to even monitor, much less control the internet.

    E) Whoever thought this up is a drooling moron.
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:05PM (#7439193)
    Great. So now I'll have to worry about staying in the good graces of the Seven Patriarchs of Outer Boobistan, as if avoiding the wrath of my own enlightened, free, democratic government wasn't getting hard enough as it is.

    Seriously, I say this is bad. The UN should be finding ways to get force countries to accept disagreeable content, not finding ways to make it easier for them to export censorship. Besides, there already is a way for military and religious dictatorships to shield their populations from the horrors of free speech and bare nipples: don't connect to the global internet. Run your own damn closed TCP/IP networks; I'll even send a free CD with all the software they'll need to the first dictator to call.

    Of course, just not listening/reading/watching stuff you don't like is a strategy that, while damn near 100% effective, never seems to occur to these paleolithic troglodytes. That goes for Outer Boobistan no less than it does for Inner GOPistan.
  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:06PM (#7439198) Homepage
    Article 19 [un.org]

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
  • by Traa (158207) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:12PM (#7439273) Homepage Journal
    given the current mess of objectionable content floating around on the internet it is about time we get our act together.

    Before you flame me about how your favorite information should be free consider that information includes:
    - child porn pictures or other snuff
    - virus/worm/hacking tool source code and instructions
    - stolen intelectual property (for example: HL2 source)
    - [fill in other human rights violation here]

    Some of the above might still not be a black and white example of where to draw the line, but at least there are gray areas that need to be discussed on an international level. The conclusion will likely be the need for more then the current inability to remove internationally-agreed-upon unwanted content.

    The UN seems to be the right place for this discussion. Just say it out loud "United Nations".
    Discussions about wether this organization is efficient at all are to be taken up with your national representatives :)
    • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      I'm a believer that, at least at this point, that sort of thing needs to remain in the control of nations. Let's break it down:

      Child porn: Sorry, but I do not agree with the US position that 18 is some magical age when sex become ok. If other countries wish to have a lower age of consent, that's their right. Then there are those countries that want ALL pornagraphy to be illegal. So if it's ok for us to tell a nation that 18 must be the minimum age for porn, why is it not ok for a different country to tell
  • >Just something to keep an eye on

    Like this could ever go anywhere or be used for anything other than debate. DOA.
  • UN controlling the internet? No problem... Who do I bribe to get the good pr0n back?
  • Sounds like the second-handers are once again trying to control something they did not create and did not contribute to.
  • by saforrest (184929) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:16PM (#7439311) Homepage Journal
    Agreed, I'm not sure I trust the bureaucracy of the UN to be able to how to properly run the Internet.

    But I don't understand the intense negative reaction to this idea, particularly by the submitter. The UN is not a repressive dictatorship. Sure, some of its members are, but I highly doubt that a UN-controlled Internet administrative body would have been to stupidly designed that it would impose restrictions on the 'Net just because some UN member applied pressure.

    In any case, why can we trust the U.S. government to take a hands-off role towards the Internet any more than we can trust the UN?
    • In any case, why can we trust the U.S. government to take a hands-off role towards the Internet any more than we can trust the UN?

      Because the US has taken a generally hands-off role towards the Internet. Because the U.S. courts have struck down laws trying to restict speech on the Internet not once but twice. Because the U.S., where DARPANET was born, has generally been protective of its intellectual child.

      The U.N. is a useless body. In its entire history, it has never accomplished anything without th

  • I suppose many Slashdotters are too young to remember UNESCO's scheme to "license" and "regulate" journalism in all countries. This is why Ronald Reagam quite rightly pulled all U.S. funding from UNESCO until they reformed.

    The UN is an organization that does things like putting Libya in charge of its commission on human rights. Do you really want North Korea or Communist China to have a say in what YOU can or can't read online?

    The UN is in no way, shape or form dedicated to the idea of democracy and individual rights. It is an organization by and for bureaucratic elites looking to expand their power and pretiege and ensure themselves easy employment. It has no moral standing, and only the power that is allowed it by the Security Council. It is not now, nor will it ever be, a "World Government," and thank God for that.

    There are very few nations in the world that have a guaranteed right to free speech and a free press the way the U.S. does. (In France it's illegal to "insult the dignity" of the French President.) Putting the UN in chaarge of the Internet would be an unmittigated disaster for freedom.
  • by Gray (5042) on Monday November 10, 2003 @08:51PM (#7439705)
    How would the UN define what the (big I) Internet is? Something about address allocation body and DNS I suspect.

    If this got annoying, couldn't we start another network? I can't think of any reason this wouldn't be fairly easy if there was a demand for it. Start new root name servers, setup a new IP allocation agency. Need new routers, but not new cable as they wouldn't be regulating at the MAC level.

    Personally, I suspect multiple Internets are going to be the way of the future. Think Xbox Live.
  • Monitor *This*... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Loki_1929 (550940) * on Monday November 10, 2003 @10:15PM (#7440416) Journal
    Freenet nodes abound, the cute little 'monitoring boards' will be of no use. Freenet's development staff would increase by factors of 10 overnight, with the staff of many OSS projects chipping in to make things easier for the everyday users. Continued monitoring will simply result in better encryption and more secure software. The harder they push, the more resistance they'll find. China has no doubt tried to regulate and stop the use of Freenet, yet the freesites of Chinese dissidents continue to thrive, and the use of Freenet message boards by them continues.

    To those who wish to control the internet: don't bother - you've already lost. Your continued efforts to increase your control merely expose your despotic aspirations. The mass criminalization of your countrymen will result only in your own downfall. You will never succeed with technological restraints, as there are far too many who will fight with a true passion to unyolk the minds of their peers; a passion your cold hearts could never comprehend, nor overcome. Look to the government of China for a spectacular mural of failure in the abuse of technology to restrain the use thereof.

    I can't help but laugh at the prospect of a worldwide effort to outright control the flow of information through the internet. You can slow it down, make it more difficult to find, and even stop some from gaining access to it, but information can no longer be suppressed to the extent you'd like.

  • by sir_cello (634395) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @06:02AM (#7442487)
    The FT is taking the lead from this Economist article that appeared on 30th October(http://www.economist.com/printedition/disp layStory.cfm?Story_ID=2177567) suggesting that as a result of the Verisign and ICANN debarcle, that the ITU and related parties have been making noises about regulation of the Internet.

    Here's the article (copied for fair use of news reporting, criticism and review):

    Time for UN intervention?

    Oct 30th 2003
    From The Economist print edition

    A regime change may topple ICANN, the controversial internet regulator

    WHEN Augustine arrived in Carthage, the saint found a seething, bubbling cauldron of wickedness. A similar fate has befallen the controversial internet address regulator, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which hosted its trimestrial public board meeting this week in the Tunisian city. Five years after it was founded as a quasi-private body with the backing of many governments, ICANN now faces its most severe test. The environment for which it was designed has radically changed: the business of selling domain names collapsed; governments are keener to oversee the internet; and ICANN itself proved maladroit in carrying out its tasks. This autumn, these three factors collided. How ICANN handles the situation will determine whether the internet's core infrastructure remains managed by industry rather than by international treaty--and highlights the need to balance stability and innovation.

    The most visible dispute is between ICANN and VeriSign, a firm that operates the .com and .net databases (and earns $6 a year per address). In September, VeriSign launched a service that automatically redirected users who mistyped a non-existent .com or .net address to VeriSign's own search engine, where it earned advertising revenue. Alas, this disrupted other internet technologies: it fooled certain spam filters into assuming that some junk e-mail was legitimate, for example. After ICANN threatened legal action, VeriSign agreed to suspend the service.

    This shows how much the market for internet addresses has changed. VeriSign needs new services to generate revenue, since selling names and operating the registration system is not as lucrative as it once appeared. In 1998, it had a monopoly on .com and .net addresses; now, after ICANN introduced competition, its market share is roughly 25%. When VeriSign acquired the registration business in 2000 for a staggering $21 billion in shares, it justified the price tag based on the potential to bolt its web-security software on to the underbelly of the internet's address infrastructure. But such synergies failed to materialise. In October, VeriSign sold its retail name-registration business to Pivotal Private Equity for a paltry $100m.

    More importantly, VeriSign's willingness to risk antagonising its regulator reveals the extent to which ICANN's authority is in doubt. Some governments feel that they could do a better job. At a pre-meeting in September for the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society, which begins in Geneva in December, a number of countries backed a proposal that a different body, the UN-affiliated International Telecommunication Union, should take on the activities that are currently within ICANN's remit. In policy circles, the idea represents a significant snub to the notion of private-sector management of the internet's addressing system.

    The threat of being ousted in favour of the ITU helped to push ICANN to confront VeriSign, to prove that it was up to the task of keeping order on the net. But it also exposed an irony that was made clear at this week's board meeting in Carthage, where ICANN's allies and enemies congregated. In the past, the debate over how to run the internet has focused on the risk that too much government regulation might stall innovation. Indeed, industry and governments themselves
  • by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim DOT almond AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:26AM (#7444129) Homepage
    I don't know about what ICANN are like, but the idea that the UN would do a better job of it should be given the scorn it deserves.

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