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Point of View: United States Giving Up Internet Control?

Bishop & Associates’ John MacWilliams has a lot to say about recent decisions regarding the Internet. Let us know your thoughts on his point of view regarding the United States giving up Internet control.

[Warning! The following is provocative, tongue-in-cheek, and crying out for comments!]

globe-mice-300x300[1]Last year Connector Supplier ran two articles on the debate over the US giving up control of the Internet to the UN or other international organizations. At the time, I was suspicious that this then-tabled event would reappear like a smoldering brush fire, and that our “diplomats” — over dishes of caviar and truffles — would eventually cave.

That appears to be what has happened. The Obama administration, via the Department of Commerce, has agreed in principle to turn over ICANN, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ Internet activities to an international group — most likely a new organization under the auspices of the UN.

There are many troubling aspects to this decision. Some of the concerns include:

  • US control was compromised by the NSA spying scandal this past year. “How can the US be trusted with future control of the Internet when it spies on its own citizens and other nations?” So goes the narrative.
  • The Internet has become a global enterprise and rightly belongs in the global domain, not controlled by one country, even though it was conceived, developed, and commercialized by the US government and US stakeholders. In a perfect world, this argument would make sense; maybe it is time for the US to “gift” control of the Internet, like it has done with so many other technologies, the wonders of modern consumer products, and thousands of formerly domestic US manufacturing footprints.
  • ICANN has made some mistakes and appears to be too closely aligned with US corporations, therefore it needs to either give up control or be assimilated into an international organization, such as the UN, that would guard against further glitches or favoritism.

But:

  • Simply stated, the US developed it. Why should we give up control? Or, how ’bout the UN buying control from us for, say, $2T? You know, one way of wiping out our deficit.
  • Perhaps on something this important, and given all the strife around the world, the US president should give a one-hour presentation as to why he’s doing it. You know, a PowerPoint/Web-X-like presentation, like all of us have to do on much less important initiatives on our next business trip.
  • How can other countries, some of whom have restricted Internet access and blocked content for political purposes, be trusted to maintain the Internet’s openness? You know, those UN organizations that have rolling chairmanships going to countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Somalia, etc.
  • The Internet, with its 2 billion+ users, is a delectable, irresistible target for taxation. Think of the money that could be raised under the cover of providing universal Internet access (not to mention there are companies already working on that, unencumbered by government bureaucracies).

Bottom Line:

  • Keep control of the Internet in the US, where it was developed.
  • Allow for a UN oversight committee to ensure that web access remains free worldwide, and that there are no abuses of free speech on the Internet emanating from the US or elsewhere, including that which criticizes governments at all levels. I am sure the UN would jump at this offer.

What do you think? If you feel strongly in either direction, tell me and your representative in Congress.

P.S. I was around when the Internet was conceived and even knew two of the players. Guess I was too dumb to see its potential. Lots of others did.

John MacWilliams, Market Director, Bishop & Associates, Inc.

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