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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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  • Pick your master (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aNonnyMouseCowered ( 2693969 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:30AM (#41803993)
    So what, we get to choose between control by Big Content or Big Brother? At the moment Big Content appears to be the more benign choice.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:34AM (#41804041) Journal

    The US is the devil we know. It isn't perfect but by and large it leaves the Internet alone. The UN has this predilection for, quite frankly, giving very repugnant regimes equal say with democracies.

    Leave it where it is.

  • Re:Ideally... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:41AM (#41804119)
    You cannot separate the technical details from the economic details. Imagine, for example, a technical specification that separates nodes into "consumer" and "service" systems; it is almost certain that ISPs would enforce the distinction between clients and servers, charging large amounts of money for connecting a "service" node to the network.

    Now, would ITU actually do such a thing? Probably. In fact, almost certainly. That sort of distinction can be seen in numerous other ITU standards and proposals. Take a look at NGN some time...
  • by concealment ( 2447304 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:44AM (#41804155) Homepage Journal

    The internet works because everyone forwards everyone else's packets, costs are low and regulation is low.

    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.

    People seem to think that increased regulation is the solution. I'm not so sure. I think big companies tend to find ways to manipulate regulation more than small ones do.

    Roll it back to 1993 and keep the open, free and wild west internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:46AM (#41804187)

    They want to control it, let them build their own;

    For various reasons they ALL agreed to our control when they signed up, got their country codes, IP address allocations, etc.

    We've gone well out of our way to give them everything thy could ever want. In fact now the complaint isn't about any single tangible thing; they will get 'nothing' out of this, other than control.

    Well.. build your own.

    You did it for GPS (galileo, glonass, a few more even); do it again.

    What, you can't because the US has most of the technology you want to use? So what good is this 'control' you seek if even AFTER that we still have 'control'?

  • Follow the money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m0s3m8n ( 1335861 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @10:47AM (#41804203)
    "...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."" The real reason.
  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:08AM (#41804541) Journal

    Exactly, so we need to make them obsolete. Mesh networks will probably do it, but they still aren't ready for prime time. But we have to start somewhere..

  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash @ p> on Monday October 29, 2012 @11:46AM (#41805125) Homepage

    Sender already pays


    In general the internet can be thought of as a pyramid of provider/customer relationships with peering links crossing between providers at a similar level. Traffic goes up the pyramid until it finds a peering link it can cross over on and then works it's way down the pyramid. At the top of the pyramid are the teir 1 providers who are all peered with each other. Initially it would seem this would mean that sender and recipiant were roughly sharing the costs but in reality it doesn't mean that for two reasons.

    1: senders are usually servers and as such the owners have pretty free choice in their location. So they locate them in the US and western europe where the teir 1 providers have a major presense and there are major peering points so internet transit is cheap. Recipiants are usually clients and so their location is constrained by other factors. So many of them have to pay a lot more to get their data from places where the teir 1 providers have a major presense.
    2: when two providers are peered in multiple locations it is usual to use "nearest exit" routing so when a packet travels from the US to europe (or vice-versa) the packet will generally cross a peering link first and then travel across the pond. Having said that the big international networks often have ratio requirements so a provider that only has content customers is likely to find it difficult to get peering with big international networks..

    Didn't these guys check the pricing models of all the cloud hosts?

    I get the impression that amazon's charges for internet traffic don't bear much relationship to what that traffic actually cost's amazon.

    P.S. while I don't think the way the internet is currently run is particually fair (In particular the way there is a small group of teir 1 ISPs more than half of which are US based who get paid for internet service while not paying anyone for upstream) I dislike the idea of the UN being in control even more.

  • by BeanThere ( 28381 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @12:21PM (#41805813)

    The UN isn't "no country", it's the governments of a bunch of actual countries ... FTA, this sentence cuts to the core here: "Observers say a number of authoritarian states will back the move". What this effectively is, is an attempt by immoral governments to forcibly assert power and control over private networks.

  • by joshio ( 950759 ) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:40PM (#41807341)

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

    The ICE seizures were completely ineffective. There were a couple of sites that I accessed that were seized by ICE and both were back up and operating with new domain names (that were easily located via a Google search) within a day. The ones that didn't come back probably were doing something illegitimate and didn't feel that it was in their best interest to return. For sure, the ICE seizures were stupid, and a terrible move by the US. But, I'll take that over the great firewall of China any day.

    I also agree that the US can no longer pretend to be a protector of the freedoms of the Internet either. However, I still don't believe that things are going to get any better with the ITU. There must be a reason that countries like Iran and China are pushing so hard for this. Perhaps they believe that they can leverage the ITU in some way to make things easier for themselves to censor their citizens. If these countries are simply seeking independence from IANA, there is nothing stopping them from operating their own DNS servers. They can even still selectively synchronize things from the IANA DNS servers if they choose.

The absent ones are always at fault.