Thursday, November 24, 2005

Protect the internet from the UN -- Let the UN discuss it 

Technology Review (via Wired) has some information on the struggle for control of the internet between the U.S. and the rest of the world. The U.S., which has created and managed the internet for its first few decades in a spirit of relative openness, wants to keep things the way they are. The rest of the world -- Iran and Saudi Arabia, for instance, according to the article -- would prefer to see some changes. While I can scarcely imagine what changes Iran and Saudi Arabia would llike to impose on the globally free flow of information, I can say I'm impressed with the American strategy so far:

In truth, both sides are right to claim a win. The agreement calls for the creation of an 'Internet Governance Forum' to be established by the United Nations before mid-2006. It will not have any binding powers but will be a way to continue the dialogue that the UN summit began. Stakeholders other than governments -- such as industry and so-called 'civil society' groups that advocate special causes like free speech -- will be a part of the process too. The forum will not be limited to discussing the names-and-addresses issue but will examine more mainstream matters involving cyberspace, such as spam and network security, that do not fit comfortably in existing intergovernmental organizations.
Apparently, the U.S. has succeeded in diverting the discussion to some sort of U.N. body with little power and an unfocused mandate. So it is impossible to believe anything will actually occur for at least a few more decades as a result of this move.

Well, that's not entirely true. I wouldn't be shocked if this new "Special U.N. Commission on This or That" managed to put out a few resolutions condemning Israel and commemorating Yassir Arafat's heretofore little-known contributions to the growth of the internet amongst oppressed peoples.

That and more than a few cocktail parties.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: