Internet Take Over?
…Will the UN control the Worldwide Web?
by Chris Cumming

Is the UN taking bold steps to take control of the Internet?  Are we about to see countries like China, Syria and Cuba deciding what sites you visit?  Will we see special interest groups and UN bureaucrats supporting an idea of taxing every web site in the world? Will there now be Internet police?  Are we about to see the Internet turned into an empty wasteland?

The Internet or the Worldwide Web was established in 1969 in the United States.  The US government initially sponsored it for use by the US military.  It was soon used by US-based scientific, educational and government institutions. Between that year and 1995 a series of inventive minds added to its capability such things as e-mail, newsgroups, graphic based browsers [Microsoft Explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc.] and a whole host of other technical innovations.

It had its explosion beginning in 1995 where it increased a hundred-fold in just one year.  Today it is made up of over 100 million computers in over 100 countries.  Information is now exchanged at an unprecedented rate.  One estimate has it that five hundred billion words are added to the Internet on a daily basis.  The Internet is now very much a commercial enterprise and billions of dollars of business is conducted over it every year.  These facts have not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world.

The United Nations has now come forward demanding the United States turn over all control and authority to them.  They claim it is unfair to developing and third world countries for the US to have all this power over the Internet.  Clearly this has initiated a massive controversy and debate in the news media and among world governments.  Note just a few recent headlines:
 

  * U.N. panel to U.S.: Let go of Internet
  * United Nations calls for US net pull out
  * Will the United Nations Run the Internet?
  * UN: US Should Not Control Internet
  * Whose Internet?
  * Politics of Internet Governance

 

Background

In December of 2003 the UN sponsored the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, Switzerland.  The Internet is the greatest instrument of information distribution known to man and, was therefore central to their discussions.  The summit ended with a resolve that the United Nations' Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan should set up a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) to submit recommendations to the next WSIS meeting to be held in Tunisia in November of this year.  The WGIG has published those recommendations in a 24-page report you can read in Resources below.  Among its recommendations is the call for the Internet to be released by US to be governed by various bureaucracies of the UN.

 

The US government is not directly involved in the running of the Internet.  In a 1998 agreement, administration of the Internet was given to a US-based, non-profit group known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).  This agreement runs out in 2006.  The UN is seeking to take over the Internet at this time.

 

What’s At Issue…on the surface
Both UN bureaucrats and many less-developed nations claim the United States has undue influence over how the Internet is run.  They now want to be the ones in charge.

At issue is who decides the top-level domain names [
web site addresses] and operating the root servers, which are the backbone of the Internet.  Notice some of the complaints from representatives that sit on the Working Group on Internet Governance at the UN.  These from a recent article by Declan McCullagh at ZDNet:

 

Syria: "There's more and more spam every day. Who are the victims? Developing and least-developed countries, too. There is no serious intention to stop this spam by those who are the transporters of the spam, because they benefit...The only solution is for us to buy equipment from the countries which send this spam in order to deal with spam. However, this, we believe, is not acceptable."

 

Brazil, responding to ICANN's approval of .xxx domains: "For those that are still wondering what Triple-X means, let's be specific, Mr. Chairman. They are talking about pornography. These are things that go very deep in our values in many of our countries. In my country, Brazil, we are very worried about this kind of decision-making process where they simply decide upon creating such new top-level generic domain names."

 

China: "We feel that the public policy issue of Internet should be solved jointly by the sovereign states in the U.N. framework...For instance, spam, network security and cyberspace--we should look for an appropriate specialized agency of the United Nations as a competent body."

Despite the fact some of these issues might have some validity, they are a smokescreen to what is actually going on and why the UN taking control would turn the Internet into an oppressive wasteland.

The Real Agenda

The UN is not looking to how the Internet can better serve the world, but how the Internet can best serve their idea of one world government and all their special interest groups.  The WGIG has already discussed their plans for Internet surveillance, “consumer protection” and the taxing of domain names.

Does the US really wish to turn over the Internet to an organization still reeling from an investigation regarding the Food for Oil scandal?  To understand what the Internet would be like in the hands of the UN, consider China’s oppressive attempts to control Internet access for its billion or so countrymen.  Notice this excerpt from a recent article, “A World Wide Web of Oppression” by Steven J. DuBord written just last week:

”Through both technology and regulation, Communist China has severely limited access to the Internet from within its borders, creating what has been called the Great Fire Wall of China. Yet the building of this Great Fire Wall has not disqualified China from membership in the highest ranks of the United Nations. How will it serve the world to turn over the Internet to a body that tolerates such tyranny?

 

“Beijing ‘operates the most extensive, technologically sophisticated, and broad-reaching system of Internet filtering in the world.’ Anyone who opens an Internet account in China must register it with the police.  Chinese Internet Service Providers are required to track their customers' usage and websites visited.

 

“The list of forbidden words includes ‘democracy,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘human rights,’ and ‘Taiwan independence.’ AFP [the French News Agency] also noted that any China-based websites not formally registered with the government by the end of June 2005 would be shut down by the government's Internet police.”

 

We have to face the fact the UN is made up of many countries that are not interested in freedom, democracy and human rights.  A chief tool of their oppression is to control the free flow of information.  Countries like China, Russia, Jordan, Cuba, Syria and Saudi Arabia see the Internet as a tool of the US to spread a global form of electronic democracy and they deeply resent it.  Many countries and special interest groups detest our wealth and freedoms and see the Internet as an extension of our own political agenda.  If the US turns over governance to the UN, we will see the Internet managed by a hodgepodge of special interest that have no affinity for free markets – or free speech.  Indeed, the time could come when this very web site would be banned from the Worldwide Web all together.

Right now, the Bush administration has made it clear they are not interested in turning any control of the Internet over to the UN or anyone else.  However, what about the next president or a new mix in Congress?  Could we see circumstances where the US is somehow forced or coerced into relinquishing control?  Can you imagine an “Oil for Internet control” program sponsored by the UN or OPEC?  Maybe this sounds far-fetched, but you can count on the fact the UN is not going to let go of this.

The UN’s World Summit on the Information Society meets in November!
 

Breaking News Stories
Go here for the latest news stories on this subject. –news stories added 7 March 2017
 

Resources:
 

UN Press Release or click here Internet Internet Governance Project
Internet Watch Foundation World Summit on the Information Society  
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers Working Group on Internet Governance  
     

 

News Story used in this commentary - click here

Photos: left: the Internet - center: the United Nations - right: future Internet wasteland?