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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

The U.N.'s Push for Power Over the Internet 326

Omnifarious writes "China (along with other member nations) is trying to push a proposal through a little known UN agency called the International Telecommunications Union (aka ITU). This proposal contains a wide variety of problematic provisions that represent a huge power grab on the part of the UN, and a severe threat to a continued global and open Internet. From the article: 'Several proposals would give the U.N. power to regulate online content for the first time, under the guise of protecting against computer malware or spam. Russia and some Arab countries want to be able to inspect private communications such as email. Russia and Iran propose new rules to measure Internet traffic along national borders and bill the originator of the traffic, as with international phone calls. That would result in new fees to local governments and less access to traffic from U.S. "originating" companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple. A similar idea has the support of European telecommunications companies, even though the Internet's global packet switching makes national tolls an anachronistic idea.'"
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The U.N.'s Push for Power Over the Internet

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  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @12:03PM (#40359963)
    My guess is that if the ITU is given power over the Internet, at least some of the following things will ultimately happen:
    1. Partitioning of Internet-connected computers into "clients" and "servers," with special registration required for "servers." Note that right now, any computer connected to the Internet can act as either a client or a server, regardless of how it is typically used; I suspect that the ITU would ultimately change that.
    2. Requirements that computers have unique identification, or at least that computers acting as servers be uniquely identified. Anonymous servers (e.g. Tor hidden services) would be rendered illegal. Procedures for shared hosts that allow multiple services to be run on a single system would likely be developed, with each service having a unique identification that is related to the identification of the host.
    3. A requirement that computers acting as servers refuse to communicate with computers in countries whose governments object to such communication. This is already a requirement of amateur radio i.e. a ham cannot communicate with someone in a country whose government objects to such communication, as per ITU rules.
    4. Key disclosure requirements for communications sent over the Internet i.e. international law enforcement agencies would be able to demand that anyone reveal secret keys. Hushmail-style backdoors would likely be mandatory in services that provide end-to-end encryption for users.
  • Mixed feelings (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 18, 2012 @12:03PM (#40359965)

    The malcontent within me actually looks forward to having the Internet governed by a coalition of China and a bunch of mufties. There are a lot of fools stumbling around the West that desperately need that experience.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @12:12PM (#40360059)

    The exact quote was "The pope? How many divisions does he have?" and most sources attribute the quote to Josef Stalin, though he almost certainly was quoting the other guy.

    What are they going to do if we ignore their invoices? Hold their breath?

    The short answer is, if Russia, China and the EU agree on a system, all they have to do is prevent our packets from passing through AS's on their sovereign territory. The UN is just the place where they come to the agreement, it's not the UN's idea and it's not up to the UN to enforce it.

    The US can always withdraw from the ITU, but if these policies genuinely reflect the interests and will of other nation-states, and they remain united, I don't see how the US gets out from under them.

  • Re:Quintuple play (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @12:13PM (#40360073)

    I believe it's time to apply the Sherman Antitrust act. Time to break-up Comcast, Cox, and other monopolies, turn-over control of the fiber optic bundles to the Member State government's roads authority, and then LEASE the lines to whatever company each customer chooses (Comcast, Apple, Honda, GM, Microsoft, Walmart, etc). We need to return to the days of Dialup where ISPs merely *used* the lines but did not own them.

  • a better quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumPion ( 805098 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @01:12PM (#40360803)

    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

    --Commissioner Pravin Lal, "U.N. Declaration of Rights"

    (from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, 1999).

  • The UN as the world's Federal Gov is risible. It usually functions as an extension of US policy, although it's been off the rails for close to a decade, thanks to Bush, Jr.

    Other countries have some authority because they would bow out without it, but no serious policy like this would ever come out of the UN without backing from the US. The rest of the world governments are getting a taste of US style freedom of speech and they don't like it. The US doesn't even like it anymore, but we the people have managed to stand fast.

    Keep standing, it is your duty as a citizen and your right as a People!

    Notice I didn't say citizen, "citizen" is mentioned only once in the Declaration of Independence, and never in the Bill of Rights, while "people" is mentioned five times in the Bill of Rights and ten times in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Re:ITU regulations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @03:06PM (#40362385)
    How about the fact that the ITU did all of the above with radio? You know, like how because of ITU rules, mobile Internet service can only be provided by commercial entities, except on the most extremely local scales (i.e. within range of a WiFi hotspot)?

    The ITU's rules are based on assumptions about the nature and role of communications services. It is not a stretch to think that ITU regulations would cement the role of commercial entities in providing online services, and the use of home Internet connections strictly for accessing those services.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.