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Showdown Set On Bid To Give UN Control of Internet 316

wiredmikey writes "When delegates gather in Dubai in December for an obscure UN agency meeting, the mother of all cyber diplomatic battles is expected, with an intense debate over proposals to rewrite global telecom rules to effectively give the United Nations control over the Internet. Russia, China and other countries back a move to place the Internet under the authority of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency that sets technical standards for global phone calls. While US officials have said placing the Internet under UN control would undermine the freewheeling nature of cyberspace, some have said there is a perception that the US owns and manages the Internet. The head of the ITU, Hamadoun Toure, claims his agency has 'the depth of experience that comes from being the world's longest established intergovernmental organization.' But Harold Feld of the US-based non-government group Public Knowledge said any new rules could have devastating consequences. Some are concerned over a proposal by European telecom operators seeking to shift the cost of communication from the receiving party to the sender. This could mean huge costs for US Internet giants like Facebook and Google."
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Showdown Set On Bid To Give UN Control of Internet

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  • On the one hand... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:20AM (#41803881) Journal

    On the one hand, we have the US and the insanity over copyright who randomly takes a small number of domains off line with no due process.


    On the other hand we have the rest of the world, who, to a greater or lesser extent take a large number of domains off line with no due process because of various censorship requirements.

    I'm not American, but keeping the internet under the control of the US is far better than the alternative.

    If you disagree, tell me one country which would do a better job. And then tell me how much influence they'd have over the ITU.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:21AM (#41803901)

    So, this is the same UN who keeps batting around the idea of making blasphemy universally illegal. Great! Can't wait to have them handling my internet traffic!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:27AM (#41803973)

    ...tell me one country which would do a better job...

    That right there is your problem. The truth is that NO ONE WANTS ANY COUNTRY TO CONTROL THE INTERNET. PERIOD.

    What people want for the internet is a persistent stateless anarchy, with no oversight or governence.

    I disagree with you because I don't want either in control, to be honest.

    In true internet fashion, I refute BOTH of your options, and write in my own.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:31AM (#41804001)

    I don't think you understand the way the ITU works, despite the fact it's been covered here many times now. Part the problem is as in the summary here a muddying of waters on the issue. For example, the threat of European telecomms operators has nothing to do with the UN taking over the internet as said law relates to the underlying telephony equipment and how charges are handled at that level. This is already something in the remit of the ITU, so has little relevance to an ITU takeover of say, ICANN's responsibilities.

    As has been pointed out here before many times, the ITU works on consensus and as such the only way the European proposal could pass anyway is if the US supports it.

    The reason I believe ITU control would be better than the status quo is quite simple - I believe that 193 vetoes (including the US') are a better safeguard against the passing of controversal changes to the internet, than simply relying on the US only to forever do the right thing.

    It's a simple question as to whether it's better to have a single dictator determining some policy, or having unanimous support for a policy from near 200 people - I know which I'd rather put more faith in in ensuring the fairest option to all is chosen, and it's not the single point of failure option, but hands down the option that requires all 193 points of failure to fail, something that's unlikely to happen nad is inherently better anyway, when you consider that one of the 193 points of failure that has to fail is the single point of failure in the other option itself.

  • by CRC'99 ( 96526 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:31AM (#41804011) Homepage

    If you disagree, tell me one country which would do a better job. And then tell me how much influence they'd have over the ITU.

    I'm not sure if there is ANY country up for the job - hence the UN is supposed to represent everyones interests. With the downward spiral being the norm for the US these days, its more scary to me to have them in charge of anything. A few successful lobbies (read $$$$$$) and the internet that we know of is over. No country should have veto powers on the Internet. This includes the US.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:34AM (#41804047)
    The ITU typically designs standards with two goals:
    1. Interoperability
    2. Promotion of service provider monopolies

    You need not look any further than X.25 to see what sort of provisions the ITU would try to work into future Internet protocols.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:43AM (#41804139) Journal

    So, the question becomes: How do we protect ourselves from these people to make sure nobody gets control, including our service providers, who can at ant moment cut us off completely?

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:45AM (#41804167)
    I think you're mistaken. I think every country wants to control the internet and very many people (certainly not the Chinese and others who live in Oppression States) would rather see their own country control it than a foreign entity.
  • Fuck the UN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:45AM (#41804169)

    The Internet thrives because it's free of the bullshit that the UN and the ITU would impose on it. If they had a hand in it, it wouldn't be what it is today.

    FUCK THE UN. Let the ITU continue to manage international phone calls. They tariff'd those to expensive death.

    The United States invented the Internet. The United States BUILT the Internet. The UN can go take a flying leap.

    Please don't mod me down for language. English is my second language and perhaps I don't express myself as well as I might if I could speak my native tongue. When I say FUCK THE UN what I'm trying to say is "FUCK THE UN!!!"


  • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:57AM (#41804353)

    Please don't mess with that formula or you'll make the internet become a lot like the older forms of media it is replacing.

    But that's clearly the objective here... or is it really not that obvious??

  • Well Known.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lionchild ( 581331 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:58AM (#41804369) Journal

    While it could easily be said for the US government as well, the UN is not really well known for doing anything well, or effeciently. While ICANN does have to come under the laws of the US, it would have to come under the laws of someone else, depending on what country it was based in, but at least it's got a track record for having some control over how things work.

  • Oh, wonderful. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:00AM (#41804389)

    The US has not been the best of stewards, but has nevertheless proven itself a much better henhouse guard than the foxes would be.

  • by elloGov ( 1217998 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:00AM (#41804395)

    NO ONE WANTS ANY COUNTRY TO CONTROL THE INTERNET. PERIOD. What people want for the internet is a persistent stateless anarchy, with no oversight or governence.

    For the most part I agree agree with you in sentiment. However, there are those who want to control the internet, specifically governments and multi-national corporations whose sole business is built on IP and corporations who want even greater control over the physical infrastructure they currently maintain. With the dawn of something precious comes the vultures who want all of it under their control. This is mankind's nature. Through fear, propaganda, lobbying and sometimes force these vultures will eventually get their way. Cyber-attacks, piracy, SOPA, lack of bandwith, child pornography, ... It's all power grab.

    Cyber-attacks - The door of company/gov't entity A was open and thieves stole X amount of value, therefore, everyone should send in their keys so we can protect you all, or better yet, we'll build one big door out front and decide who gets to come in and who does not. FUCK YOU, fix your security holes

    Piracy - We push digital formats of IP that we own into the public domain with insufficient security and oversight. We are neither going to acknowledge our short-comings in protecting our IP nor are we going to adapt to the changing times and seek out new creative outlets for our products (i.e. rock band), instead we are going to lobby hard for the uber-privilege of regulating all content on the world wide web. FUCK YOU either evolve or don't publish your IP if you can't protect it.

    In both of these instances, their fault is spun into request for greater control through fear (economical and national security). I draw a clear distinction between regulation of content and infrastructure. I too wish the internet to remain a "persistent stateless anarchy", however, there needs to be regulation and oversight of infrastructure, NOT content, when appropriate; i.e. detect/protect against DOS attacks, DNS spoofing, etc... But don't tell me what content I can consume and what content I can't.

    Like you, I refuse the choose the lesser of the two evils.

  • Yay I am happy! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:02AM (#41804433)

    Collectivists can ALWAYS be trusted to make sure Individual Inherent rights are respected and protected!!!!

    They are doing it for ALL out OWN good, right?

    So if they are doing it for the "Collective Good" I am sure they will first start with making sure individual rights to post whatever we wish to express our feeling will most certainly be respected!

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:02AM (#41804437)

    You do know what the word "unanimity" means right? If not then go look it up and then come back and see why your post makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    It means every single member nation would have to vote on an issue for it to pass, including the US. For the ITU to change against this requirement of unanimity it would also in itself require a unanimous vote.

    As such, how would said repugnant regimes subvert the process exactly? The only way your view makes sense is if they can gain support of the US, but if that happens other countries can still veto. How is that worse than the status quo exactly where if said repugnant regimes can win over the US, then can do so currently anyway without the safeguard of other nations?

    The only downside of unanimity is that it can make processes of change slow, but as I think the internet is best left to evolve naturally anyway I'm not sure in the context of the internet that that's a bad thing.

  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:08AM (#41804537) Journal
    Unfortunately, history shows that the public ... will accept a lot of shit, especially if it is tracked into their living room one dirty shoe-full at a time. They only get upset if you ask them "would you like some crap on your carpet?". So, nobody is going to ask them.
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:08AM (#41804539) Journal

    That index is complete and utter bullocks. UK better than US? Hardly. The UK can and does prohibit all sorts of "news" from being published, especially about the Royals, yet it ranks significantly higher than the US. This is an OPINION survey, not actual reality survey.

    Sorry, but people who hate the US will always rate it lower than other more oppressive regimes simply because of hate.

    On the other hand, our government arrested the maker of the video at the heart of the controversy with Bengazi. So, perhaps we are going down the road of Soviet Russia.

  • by Artraze ( 600366 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:13AM (#41804595)

    And that veto is cast by who, exactly? No one we elected, and no one that we really know. Are you so politically naive to think that those vetos and passes aren't going to be traded for others within the UN machine? And that the people that could be held accountable (elected representatives) can't so thoroughly distance themselves from the UN proceedings to make it a literal non-issue come election time?

    It's not so much as 193 point of failure so much as 193 palms to grease. The UN has way more politicking than accountability and that's never a good thing. Do you really think that this would somehow prevent the Berne Convention (165 parties) won't be used as club to beat the ITU into line? Or that free speech [slashdot.org] isn't going to be a huge issue? And that we could see concessions made on that front in exchange for some other favor within the UN?

    The long and the sort of is it that moving to to the UN spreads the accountability so thin as to be non-existent. At least with the US there is enough accountability (see the defeat of SOPA) and principal (see as one of the freest speech countries around) to keep the internet what it is.

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:15AM (#41804621) Homepage Journal

    1, If control is transferred to ITU, pricing will become the new censorship.

    2. Most legislatures put the lie to the concept of the wisdom of the masses. Leave this alone. The U.S. is not perfect, but I'm having a hard time choosing even three other nations that would be trustworthy enough for me. UK, France, Netherlands? No, wait... UK, Netherlands, israel? No, wait... OK, Netherlands, Japan? No, wait... UK, Japan, South Africa? Sorry, a third nation eludes me right now. All others are either too willing to go along with truly socialist options, or are corrupted by dictatorships/religious law/centralized government, or are just even more corrupt than the others.

    Leave it alone. Pricing fixes itself when you realize the complainers have customers who will pay for the access. Pricing as censorship needs to be kept out of governance. Oversight masquerading as benevolence is neither. It is tyranny. And besides, the Internet will recognize it as damage and route around it.

  • by elloGov ( 1217998 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:19AM (#41804685)
    This is very true. A working man/woman simply doesn't have the time and resources and has much more to risk to dissent over such matters. More importantly, fear is the reason of not challenging such abuse of personal liberty. As civilized as we are, we all know deep down that if we dissent enough, we'll be dealt with, ultimately by force.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:22AM (#41804735) Journal

    I see no evidence of any country of note who would be better for the Internet than the US. Look at Australia and the UK, with governments falling over themselves to try to censor it.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:25AM (#41804793)

    The Internet does not need the US. So why should the US have any say over the Internet?

    Do you actually have any valid argument against it or are you just a nationalist? I'm failing to see how increased protection for the internet against bad laws is a bad thing. That's exactly what unanimous vote at the ITU grants it.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:26AM (#41804803)

    Hacking probably isn't even the biggest threat on the internet, it's fraud, probably followed by something crazy like human trafficking : why CL requires you to have an account now. The problem is that governments want control over the internet in entirety, every last packet. While this may work for China & Iran because they control such things as the media & speech, the internet is right along those lines, but the problem is the rest of us, there's not a camera on every street corner (sorry UK), there's not a phone tap on every citizen, so why should the internet be controlled in such a manner? Most plans for the internet tend to incorporate something along the lines of such control. Having said that, in my opinion, we should let the internet control itself and treat crimes on it on a per case basis just like we do with everything else.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:26AM (#41804811)


    Wrong! Every government wants *their* country to control the internet.


  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:26AM (#41804813) Homepage Journal

    "No country should have veto powers on the Internet. This includes the US."

    Um, that's the problem. The ITU and many other nations think that the US has veto powers over the Internet. Which it does, and has used so sparingly (if at all) that it is a moot point, even now.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:36AM (#41804949)

    Really? is that your only argument? that what you say is right and that's all their is to it? you don't need any facts, evidence, or data to back up your point, you don't even have to make sense, it is the way you say it is and that's it? As I say, the internet doesn't need the US either.

    I feel sorry for you I really do.

  • ICANN is an epic failure. The UN couldn't be more incompetent if they set out with that as a goal.
  • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:52AM (#41805231) Homepage

    So, the question becomes: How do we protect ourselves from these people to make sure nobody gets control, including our service providers, who can at ant moment cut us off completely?

    Give it to the UN, they'll never agree on anything, nothing will change and the internet remains free :)

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:10PM (#41805601)
    The problem with giving control of the Internet to a world body like the UN is that only a minority of the world (either by number of countries or population) lives in democracies or flawed democracies [wikipedia.org]. The majority of the world is completely or partially authoritarian. If you put the Internet under the democratic control of the world as a whole, the authoritarians win.

    People like to badmouth the U.S. because it's a prominent target. But compare it to the rest of the world as a whole, and the U.S. comes out smelling like roses. Bashing the U.S. in this context is literally throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If you don't want the U.S. in sole control, OECD [wikipedia.org] control is almost certainly preferable to UN control. The free and democratic nations of the Earth built up with a wonderful global tool. Just because it's "global" does not mean they're obligated to hand over control of it to the (mostly authoritarian) world as a whole. Do Open Source software projects give equal voice in decision-making to non-contributors and closed-source proponents?
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:12PM (#41805653) Homepage

    Bullshit! They will all agree on national content filtering and make it treating binding for the rest of us.

    What is more evil than evil? It goes by the name of the UN!

  • by Artraze ( 600366 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:17PM (#41805743)

    > Unless your government backs the stance then it can veto it.

    Right. And when your government backs the stance, like they did SOPA, what happens?

    SOPA went down because politicians were scared they wouldn't get reelected because of the massive outcry. People could look at the list of people that voted 'yes' and not reelect them. If it's some appointee? The politician can just say they went rogue and that they won't reappoint them. And who is that politician anyways... it's buried under time and approvals. 'well, they were my third choice; I didn't really like them but they were the only one that would stick'. Do you think that trail is going to be stronger when you can pump up issues like jobs, defense, abortion, etc?

    So the problem is that instead of the responsibility being on elected representatives (who are accountable to the people), it's on an appointee (whose accountability is to the government). Sure the government is accountable to the representatives who are accountable to the people, but that's a big gap. (And, yes, the government is the representatives, but you don't elect them all, so it really is the amorphous 'government' before the politicians themselves.)

    > The Berne convention passed precisely because the US government did want it, I'm failing to see how your argument eliminates the US government as still being a clear point of protection even under the ITU.

    So the US wanted the Berne convention and now 165 signed on. And mind that is signed a treaty not just voted 'okay' at the ITU. So my point is that peer pressure pushed a treaty across the world. How far do you think it could push a resolution in the ITU? Especially if you say 'well this is really just part of the Berne convention to uphold copyright'.

    > Great, and what about counter-examples like ICE domain seizures?

    I dunno, but I see arrests [bbc.co.uk] and IP bans [torrentfreak.com] (which I view as far more serious than domain seizures, BTW) and jail time [guardian.co.uk] and free speech [wikipedia.org] issues [wikipedia.org] everywhere [wikipedia.org] to follow one thread.

    And Do you really think that, in a world where ACTA could be created, that ITU will somehow prevent domain seizures? What government would really be against that?

  • by joshio ( 950759 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:17PM (#41806919)
    There is nothing stopping other countries from running their own DNS servers and forcing providers to direct DNS queries to them...
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @04:04PM (#41809699) Homepage Journal
    The UN?

    Geez, that clusterfuck of an organization pretty much fails at anything it is currently mandated to do....and we want to give it MORE control, by giving it control of the internet?? Seriously?

    It is corrupt and ineffective now...I'd certainly not want to give it control of one of our most precious possessions of the people of the world.

    The mere statements by the current head of the UN and one of his immediate underlings, suggesting that some forms of speech should not be 'free' (as in someone putting down a religion of some sort)....immediately rejects them as possible steward over the internet.

    If the internet was to be coming into existance now..do you think it would have a snowballs chance in hell as being as free and 'wild' as it has been? Where everyone can hook a computer to it and become a PEER...that you can join with no license, say whatever you want to say and get away with it anonymously?

    I think not...and the UN and countries inside it, will work towards those goals.

    The internet and the freedom of expression it gives, is something that came up under all govt's radar...and they'd love nothing more than to put the genie back into the bottle.

    The governments pushing for this type of move of control, is their first step in trying to control that genie post-release.

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