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The End of the Internet as We Know It?

Is It The End of the Internet as We Know It?

Freedom of speech is a core belief in America, codified in the First Amendment to the Constitution. That universal human principle was designed into the founding architecture of the Internet by DARPA and others in the United States industry, government and academia.

The now-free and open Internet (since 1993) is effectively controlled by a multi-stakeholder consortium led by US-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers), which assigns domain names, extensions, and the inner workings of the Internet. Since its beginnings, through this “open” model, the World Wide Web has grown into a global phenomenon. It is available to anyone with access to a computer and an Internet connection. It has become the first line of defense worldwide against oppressive governments and other threats to individual freedom. It has, unfortunately, also given rise to computer viruses, scams, and other illegal activities that make restricting its use for political purposes attractive to some.

Now, there are reports that the UN, through its ITU organization (International Telecommunications Union, founded in 1865 to regulate teletype, and now part of the UN bureaucracy) is planning to do just that: wrest control of the Internet from ICANN and use its arcane, mind-numbing regulatory authority to control various aspects of the Internet. This could include having to register names, addresses, and telephone numbers to gain Web access; restrict “controversial, hateful, or forbidden sites”; and to siphon off revenue via a tax on Internet access to fund UN programs. The UN strongly denies this, but does have a history of attempting to override US sovereignty, while incorporating the wishes of unfriendly regimes into “new world order” controls and regulations.

Let us be clear that we are simply reporting what has already come out of numerous news organizations, including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, PCWorld, https://WCITLeaks.org, and others. Apparently, after not showing much resistance in previous meetings, the US government’s position is now evolving, with a key UN/ITU meeting to be held in Dubai in December. It will be attended by many other UN countries, some not known for their freedoms, and others who are adversarial toward the United States. Key players include China, Russia, and several Middle Eastern states that may already restrict Internet access. One might watch closely to see what position the US government takes on this, including public pronouncements by the State Department officials before agreeing to anything like a UN takeover of the Internet.

What do you think? Should we let the UN do its thing? Or vigorously petition the State Department to oppose this initiative by the UN?

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John MacWilliams
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