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Censorship Government The Internet Your Rights Online

India's Proposal For Government Control of Internet To Be Discussed In Geneva 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-internet-are-belong-to-us dept.
First time accepted submitter cvenky writes "The Indian Government is proposing to create an intergovernmental body 'to develop internet policies, oversee all internet standards bodies and policy organizations, negotiate internet-related treaties and sit in judgment when internet-related disputes come up.' This committee will be funded and staffed by the UN and will report to the UN General Assembly which effectively means the control of the internet passes on to World Governments directly."
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India's Proposal For Government Control of Internet To Be Discussed In Geneva

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  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:08PM (#40024273)

    That should work out well for a free and open internet, eh?

    Strat

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MightyYar (622222)

      I could get behind this if it weren't the entire General Assembly, but instead just a selection of governments with some kind of free speech and representative democracy. Letting countries like China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Iran even have a vote seems ludicrous.

      • And the tower of babel shall fall...again.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And letting in the US is better ?

        SOPA
        PIPA
        ACTA
        Trans Pacific Trade Agreement ?

        Give me a break. There is no government, no government on earth that wants a true free internet.
        So in my view its better these governments "fight" each other and leave the internet alone (mostly) than have them banded together and destroy it with certainty.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          And letting in the US is better ?

          Well, the US controls it now, so...

          • by toriver (11308)

            Correction: They control some aspects of it, i.e. creation of TLDs and some of the most common TLDs. IANA, IETF, IESG etc. are international bodies already.

          • by tg123 (1409503)

            And letting in the US is better ?

            Well I think it's , at least for westerners, a case of the devil ( USA) you know.

            USA is a very easy devil to deal with just throw money at it and it will let you do what ever you like.

            Cause it's gets a bit nasty if you don't have money but at least it's an honest devil.

        • Re:Oh Boy... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @11:45PM (#40025059)

          SOPA

          Failed to pass.

          PIPA

          Failed to pass.

          ACTA

          Failed to pass (as of yet), seems unlikely.

          Trans Pacific Trade Agreement

          If you're talking about this [wikipedia.org], well, it's still up in the air. My cursory read of the articles tells me that it would mainly be about eliminating tariffs between South Asia countries. The cynic in me says that it's all about setting up cheap and exploitable labor in those countries to reduce costs.

          And okay, that's where we failed. Shit like NAFTA has, ironically, put the people it was supposed to help out of business (such as Mexican corn farmers, a lot of whom now grow something else entirely). But our government has always been pretty shitty about stuff like this, but what are you gonna do? It won't affect an everyday American's ordinary life like SOPA, PIPA, or ACTA would, so you won't really see any action against it build up any sort of momentum, unfortunately.

          tl;dr: America writes up shitty laws just like nearly every other country in history, but on the ones mentioned we're 3 for 4 in keeping those shitty laws from passing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kreigaffe (765218)

          Letting the US is better?

          Compared to N. Korea, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia?

          Um, YES, IT IS FUCKING BETTER!

          The US isn't perfect, no one is saying that. No one is saying the US is the best. Compared to THOSE countries? Compared to the amount of freedom that can be found on MOST of the planet? Yes, the fucking US is better than that.

          Jesus fucking christ and this drivel was modded INSIGHTFUL? You want some real problems with limitations and outright lack of free speech, travel *outside* the US for once in you

          • by Ash Vince (602485) *

            Compared to N. Korea, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia?

            You had me up until that last one. Saudi Arabia is a staunch US ally.

            The US sells them vast amounts of US military hardware every year and if the US government had any sort of problem with the utter lack of any democracy there it could bankrupt them very quickly by not buying their oil. Of course that will never happen though as the US would rather Saudi stayed as friendly monarchy with a shit human rights record as most of the general populace are muslim and would probably elect a bunch extremist anti-amer

            • by cayenne8 (626475)

              The folks who have been held in Guantanamo bay might not have such a great opinion on the US and it's marvellous human rights record.

              Hmm...so, what country are you in? Would you be willing to accept the package if we dropped off all these terrorist guys into your country? Would that solve things for you?

        • Lazy analysis. Even if no government wants a truly free Internet, there are still differences between all the other governments. And quite frankly, the US is on a very short list of countries I'd like to see have control over the Internet.

          The UN controlling the Internet will be a lowest common denominator kinda issue, and that will be to regulate pretty much everything. Do not want. And that's coming from someone who supports the UN far more than the average american.

        • by Xest (935314)

          The reasons international governance would be better is the same reason continuous coalition/minority governments give healthier democracies - the only legislation that can be passed is that which is common sense and not controversal. Legislation that is highly controversal like censorship ends up tied up in battles that last for eternity and so never reach agreement for implementation.

          It's not use arguing that we should just trust the US because the rest of the world wants to censor the net - the US and ev

        • by msobkow (48369)

          There is one difference between US and Indian attempts to censor the internet. The USG is clearly in the pockets of big media and industry, targetting sites which distribute "pirated" materials and "fake" products.

          India, on the other hand wants Pre-screening of Internet content [wikipedia.org]:

          On December 5, 2011, The New York Times' India Ink reported that the Indian government had asked several social media sites and internet companies, including Google, Facebook and Yahoo, to "prescreen user content from India and t

        • Tokelau. Tokelau does! Or, at worst, an internet with a banner frame across the bottom and an option to remove it for $10.95 a month.
      • Re:Oh Boy... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @10:29PM (#40024671) Homepage Journal

        The US is about equal to all those you list in terms of civil rights, meaningful free speech (not just the playstuff that's actually allowed), levels of corruption and levels of actual democracy.

        I agree that none of those listed should have a voice, but by the same standard neither should the US. At present, the US has very near absolute power. The GA may have depraved and corrupt elements, but on aggregate it's no worse than the US on any metric and at times is a whole lot better.

        Ideally, the Internet would be run by a meritocratic UN group, with all nations recognizing and respecting a group that chooses members by merit and acts on merit. There have been *cough* enough incidents where nations (US included) have actively sought to cripple meritocratic groups that I do not believe such a group could function. It would lack the teeth necessary to impose its decisions and to work it would need Predator X-like teeth.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The US is about equal to North Korea in free speech? Hyperbole, much?

          By all means, go live in one of those places and the the US and tell me they are anywhere near equal. I'll wait.

          The US created the Internet, with all of the assorted freedoms it has right now. I can't think of any other place it could have been created, including most of Western Europe. You may feel butthurt about American hegemony and some of the bad decisions made under that umbrella, but you need a little perspective.

          • It is true that the US is still nowhere near North Korea police state, yet, but it is walking at a very good pace in that direction. It won't likely get all the way to there, at least I hope not, but it will probably go far enough in that direction to be a considerable threat to the world, and considering what US can do and what North Korea can do, US is a much greater threat than North Korea could ever dream to be.
          • The US created the internet by accident. The technology was designed for a military communications network that could continue to function in the event of severe infrastructure damage from nuclear war. Then it became available to universities, and eventually some companies started offering connectivity to anyone. If you gave a few high-up officials a time machine and a chance to do it all over again, they'd probably engineer it from the beginning to include a government-controlled censorship system, a means
          • Re:Oh Boy... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by toriver (11308) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @02:35AM (#40025579)

            Inventing something does not grant a right to control it later - otherwise, you would not need the FCC to allocate radio spectrum but leave that to Italy; and if Ford wanted to make changes to a car model they should ask Germany. And so on.

        • The US is about equal to all those you list in terms of civil rights, meaningful free speech (not just the playstuff that's actually allowed)

          You know how I know you're a barking idiot?

        • Re:Oh Boy... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by geekgirlandrea (1148779) <andrea+slashdot@persephoneslair.org> on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @11:44PM (#40025047) Homepage

          Ideally, the Internet would be run by a meritocratic UN group, ...

          No. Ideally it wouldn't be 'run' at all.

          • Someone has to run at least the DNS system. It's the only internet resource people will fight over. One IP or AS number is just like another, so all you need is a simple administrative body to make sure two people don't try to use the same one. But DNS? That's a source of endless disputes, and so long as those domains remain a source of substantial income that will be the case. So a body is needed to resolve them. Right now, that is ICANN and their resolution procedure can be summed up as 'the side with the
            • One IP or AS number is just like another, so all you need is a simple administrative body to make sure two people don't try to use the same one.

              Yeah, true with current or foreseeable future protocols. Not necessarily impossible to avoid, though - what if networks were addressed by public keys in a large sparse space, and you could just randomly generate them when needed?

              That's a source of endless disputes, and so long as those domains remain a source of substantial income that will be the case. So a bod

              • Mapping fixed terms to IP addresses is easy enough, the problem is meaningfulness to humans.
                - If the terms are meaningful, then they will have value. Companies of similar name will dispute who gets one. There will be issues relating to names used for satire or protest. Some will be worth millions, which means lots of legal action. This is the situation with DNS. It works, it also leads to the plague of the cyber-squatters and the type of hugely expensive legal action that only lawyers benefit from.
                - If th
              • by Asic Eng (193332)

                Yeah, true with current or foreseeable future protocols.

                Protocols too, need to be agreed on.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          To measure political speech, I would use a list like this [rsf.org], which is much less subjective than your opinion. It looks to me like the dividing line is somewhere in the middle of that list, but that is obviously IMHO. The bottom of that list is straight out.

          To measure democracy, I'd try something like this (sorry about the PDF). [economist.com] They have a category called "Authoritarian regimes", and I think those countries should definitely be excluded.

          I'm not trying to rig the game in favor of the US, I'm trying to rig the

        • I can't think of any "meritocratic" groups in existence that don't have the US and sometimes Russia or Canada with a veto over the decisions of the body, ala the UN. We don't know if a meritocratic group could or would function, because we've never had one. The US and others have always insisted on having a "final say" through a veto, as if their form of "democracy" is inherently better than others despite the wide spread and blatant corruption caused by lobbying and well-heeled lobbyists.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by symbolset (646467) *
        We're talking about the same United Nations that has Libya [slashdot.org] on its Human Rights Council. What do you think is going to happen?
        • by Ash Vince (602485) *

          We're talking about the same United Nations that has Libya [slashdot.org] on its Human Rights Council. What do you think is going to happen?

          How are we supposed to take your post seriously on a geek discussion site if you cant even post a link properly?

          The link you wanted to post was here:

          Libya [ohchr.org]

          And btw, why should they not be on the council again in 2013? They are no longer a dictatorship and are making great strives towards democracy now that Gadafi is gone.

          You did realise that was what it said on the link you posted didn't you? Here is the story stating they will be re-admitted:

          http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40438&Cr=libya [un.org]

      • So representative democracy is ok, as long as you get to rig the election?
        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Representative democracy? At the UN? Since when does a king or dictator represent the will of the people? I'm the one proposing democracy.

    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @10:17PM (#40024623) Homepage Journal

      The US has done far, far worse than expected, ICANN has shown that they really can't and the FCC has utterly destroyed any possibility of it doing anything by treating the Internet as not a communication system. The major ISPs are acting like gangsters, using extortion and running protection rackets via the death of network neutrality.

      Leaving it where it is WILL kill the Internet as we know it. You WILL lose what freedoms you still have, if power doesn't shift soon.

      I don't know if the UN will do any better, but they sure as hell can't do worse and there are no other international organizations capable of the task.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        I'm not seeing how some sort of UN group, particularly a GA based one, is going to favorably address any of the points you brought up at all.

        And hell yes, the UN can do worse, I mean, there's only one country that *has* controlled the Internet including the time that you think the Internet was any good. So your plan is to say, anyone *must* better than the people who ran it when it did have freedom? I really just don't think you can make a statement like that with any credibility.

        If you want to suggest a

        • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @12:04AM (#40025115) Homepage Journal

          Well, no, the US didn't control the Internet when it was any good, the NSF did. (No, the DARPA days weren't better, DARPA's screwball decisions are why the Internet protocols are as messed up as they are.) The NSF isn't run by Congress or Corporations. One option would be for the NSF to claim eminent domain, seize all fibre (lit and dark) in the US or owned by US organizations, and run the lot on rational principles.

          However, that would only cover the US. The Internet is very global. Even CERN is primarily European. We need a UN body for the global reach, but it would need to meet the following criteria to actually work:

          * It needs to be quasi-independent
          * Members should be elected purely on merit, not on grounds of money or territory covered
          * Officials should be 75% from the academic community and 25% from the InfoSec community, NOTHING from the political or corporate communities
          * The organization should be primarily concerned with research, collaborative projects and the information demands of science
          * The Internet should be a means to achieve the desired end results, not an end in itself
          * Since this limits direct law-enforcement options, it would need to have significant muscle (eg: veto powers in the IMF and WTO) to ensure nations complied

          However, let's assume the GA wants to take over and not create a meaningful NSF-like body. Actual gangsters and dictators hold onto power because they know what they can take and when not to push too hard. The KKK was well-known for charity work, not because they gave a crap but because it's by far the easiest way to manipulate the hearts and minds of those peons and fools they needed to be compliant. Corporations hold onto power through smoke, mirrors and legislation. They take it all and don't give a crap about pushing too hard because customers are expendable. I have zero faith in the mob, but that's still far more faith than I'll ever have in a megacorp.

          I'd also point to Japan where actual mobsters and criminal gangs ARE in charge of many areas of law enforcement -- the nation has better Internet than the US (eg: gigabit to the home), better medical care, lower levels of (unlicensed) crime, lower levels of overt violence and far better sushi. It's an actual real-life embodiment of Terry Pratchett's Thieves' Guild. (I would not be surprised if Terry Pratchett got the idea from them, since many of his books are sourced in real-world ideas.)

          That's far from ideal, and I repeat I have zero faith in it, but my faith in the current system is so far in the negative that zero is a definite improvement.

          • by Hentes (2461350)

            There needs to be global body but it definitely shouldn't be a UN one. The UN is a bunch of corrupt politicians and third world dictators. I wouldn't trust the UN with anything. The Internet needs to be a separate political entity, independent of nationstates. The UN will never agree to your points, the only reason some of its members are pushing for global control is so they can censor sites outside of their borders. America has many problems, but at least it has strong free speech protections, which is es

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        The first rule of politics is that there is always worse. If the Indians ruled the net, any site could be turned off for insulting a cow.

      • ...the FCC has utterly destroyed any possibility of it doing anything by treating the Internet as not a communication system.

        Please explain what you mean by that?

      • by couchslug (175151)

        Central control is bad, and world government is a terrible idea since it must seek to please the lowest common denominator.

    • by ewieling (90662)
      I suspect the UN will be as effective at regulating the internet as they are at "peace keeping". I can live with that.
      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        Let's be fair, they might be slightly better -- there's less food to be stolen and local girls to rape inside my computer, so by that fact alone it'd have to be a better job.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      That should work out well for a free and open internet, eh?

      Strat

      Hypothetical example: our worst dreams come true, and everything goes to shit on the Internets. Now everything in monitored and watched.

      Solution: do what geeks have always done, and create the Darknet version of BitTorrent. That is, a darknet that is easy to use, cryptographically strong, and damn near impossible to detect.

      Even if, well, any government clamps down and does their best effort, it won't matter for much terribly. Look at Iran, China, et. al. and how easily their censorship schemes are bypassed

      • "do what geeks have always done, and create the Darknet version of BitTorrent. That is, a darknet that is easy to use, cryptographically strong, and damn near impossible to detect."

        Sounds like Freenet. I've used it. It does work, but the anti-tracking measures impose a nasty performance overhead, so it's painfully slow and there are no real-time communications abilities. I've read that TOR and .onion site are the darknet of choice for when you want realtime comms, but never had need for either.

        The idea re
    • by mvdwege (243851)

      That's orthogonal to the body that controls the standards. After all, the fact that repressive regimes have a say in the ITU does not mean that they can arbitrarily tap your phone if you don't live in their country, now does it?

      Mart

  • by fnj (64210) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:15PM (#40024303)

    No. Just no.

  • Those guys are assholes!
  • How it goes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:34PM (#40024405)

    India: "Hey, has anybody thought we should try controlling the 'net more?"

    Korea: "Nah, that's a terrible idea. Maybe a law keeping ISPs from blocking stuff they don't like would be better."

    Germany: "Yeah, that sounds good."

    Sweden: "Add a clause telling the movie and music companies to stop suing people for more money than some of *us* have, and you'll get my vote!"

    Eritrea: "Hear, hear!"

    And then the law gets passed and nobody messed with the internet again and we all live happily ever after, the end. ...

    Hey, if *they* get to talk about *their* crazy future scenarios, I get to talk about mine.

    • by jd (1658)

      As crazy as it is, it's infinitely more believable than US' Congress saying that (and the Supreme Court has said the FCC can't regulate the Internet unless Congress DOES pass the law you describe).

  • by manu0601 (2221348) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:57PM (#40024509)

    For now things are in the hand of ICANN (that is, USA), and it is illegitimate enough that it cannot make crazy moves, otherwise some states will start creating their alternative DNS roots. I wonder if a UN based organization would be more capable of wrecking the Internet without partionning it.

    Note that whatever the governing body is, we have no chance of having democratic oversight no it, anyway.

    • Most nations take International Treaties as something that has the highest force of law. In the US, that is specified in the Constitution and many other nations have similar provisions. So, if the nations get together and hammer out a treaty that says "Such and such UN body shall have ultimate authority over the 'net and we agree to do what they say," that is pretty binding. Other countries can go after them to enforce it.

      So right now if you make an anti-Iran website in the US, there is little Iran can do a

  • Internet routes around standard damage originating somewhere in Asia. News at 11

  • which effectively means the control of the internet passes on to World Governments directly.

    No it doesn't. Only if the US gives up control of assigned IP addresses and DNS tlds that it controls. Already each country controls their own two letter tld.

  • Who needs the UN in everybody's shorts?

    • by Qubit (100461)

      Who needs the UN in everybody's shorts?

      1) Who the heck wears Internet-connected shorts?

      2) Do the shorts run Java?

      3) Where can I buy a pair?

      4) The UN? In my shorts? It's more likely than you think!

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @11:06PM (#40024869)

    Just WTF do they think they are going to when all Internet standards bodies unanimously refuse to be overseen? Shut down their mailing lists and brand all members terrorists?

    • by Qubit (100461)

      Just WTF do they think they are going to when all Internet standards bodies unanimously refuse to be overseen? Shut down their mailing lists and brand all members terrorists?

      Were you under the common yet critically dangerous assumption that any person in political office had the slightest chance of maintaining ownership of his own soul?

      As long as the tv shows keep on bellowing forth from the screen and the coca-cola (original recipe, natch) keeps on flowing like sweet, syrupy soma, the proletariat will be satisfied. Dear IETF members: May the odds be ever in your favor!

  • The Internet is an international medium that needs international agreements in order to operate. Just because there are international agreements in place doesn't mean that it will be reduced to the lowest common denominator either. Radio and telephone systems are prime examples of this. (The governance isn't perfect, but it works.)

  • They couldn't even get a basis protocol for an Internet running. How will the same folks be able to manage an Internet?

    First agenda item, due 2037: "Defining the method and process for the selection of committee oversight executive members, for the selection of sub-committee oversight members, for the definition of a framework of work the work defining co-interdependent entities of interested parties for the formations governing orthogonal autonomous regulating non-spatial, non temporal beings."

    Not vali

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