The U.N. and Government Control of the Internet

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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The United Nations recently made some unprecedented moves that indicate the global body may be moving towards increased governmental control of the Internet on an international scale.

Eighteen member nations met to create a working group within the Internet Governance Forum tasked with steering the future of governance with the intent to exclude the input of non-governmental organizations that have worked to define Internet protocols since the birth of the web.

The UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) decided to open the working group after receiving a great deal of criticism and an open letter from more than a dozen leading technical groups.

Vint Cerf, considered one of the fathers of the Internet and who is Google's chief Internet evangelist, weighed in on the trend towards governmental control of the web:

"We don't believe governments should be allowed to grant themselves a monopoly on Internet governance. The current bottoms-up, open approach works -- protecting users from vested interests and enabling rapid innovation. Let's fight to keep it that way."

The UNCSTD has since relented, and agreed to include as many as 20 non-governmental organizations in the work group.

Hamadoun Toure, the secretary general for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), supports the drafting of a "cyber peace treaty" to prevent the Internet from becoming an international battlefield, and has offered assurances that non-governmental bodies will be a part of the process.

Critiques fear the assurances are no guarantee that the private groups will actually be able to exercise any influence on the proceedings, citing a recent decision to bar the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers from a meeting discussing a Russian proposal to take over the management of Internet domain names.

Ron Deibert, Director of the Citizen Lab and the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the University of Toronto warns that the future of Internet freedom is tenuous at best:

"We have to be careful about what institutions take the lead. The Chinas, the Irans, the Saudi Arabias of the world want to impose a territorial vision of control over cyberspace -- and if the ITU got its wishes, that's essentially what would happen."

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of Internet freedom?

Source:  http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20101228/un-governments-future-of-the-internet-101230/20101230/?hub=TorontoNewHome

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Government Regulation Cyber Security internet Headlines United Nations Internet Freedom UNCSTD Vint Cerf
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