Thank Goodness

The US has refused to turn control of the Internet over to the UN.  Thank Goodness. (via Instapundit)

A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a
U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct
traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its
historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

"We will not agree to the U.N. taking over the management of the
Internet," said Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. coordinator for
international communications and information policy at the State
Department. "Some countries want that. We think that's unacceptable."

Beyond the potential fortunes UN officials could make in bribes and kickbacks with such control,

Many countries, particularly developing ones, have become increasingly
concerned about the U.S. control, which stems from the country's role
in creating the Internet as a Pentagon project and funding much of its
early development.

Too bad.  If you don't like it, band together and create your own.  This is classic socialist thinking - don't bother to invest or try to compete, just confiscate the assets of whoever is already successful.

Meryl Yourish, by the way, brings us this delicious irony:  Tunisia, whose government actively censors the web and restricts its people's access to the web, will be hosting the next UN Internet summit:

Facing heated protest, the United Nations on Wednesday defended
Tunisia's hosting of a U.N. summit about Internet access in the
developing world, even though the north African nation has been
repeatedly accused of rights abuses that include blocking Web sites it
dislikes....

the government has blocked access to Web sites belonging
to Reporters Without Borders, other human rights watchdogs, and the
independent press, while police monitor e-mails and Internet cafes.

"It
does question to some extent the U.N.'s credibility that a world summit
on the information society is taking place in a society where access to
some Web sites is restricted," said Alexis Krikorian, of the
International Publishers' Association. "It's amazing that such a summit
would take place in a country like this."

No kidding.  When you think of turning tasks over to the UN, remember that over half the membership and the bureaucracy is dominated by officials from dictatorships.  Turning the Internet over to the UN means turning it over to Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and Kim Il Sung.  And to Syria and Saudi Arabia and Iran.  And don't forget China, currently in the middle of the largest and most aggressive government Internet censorship project in the world.

New Chinese regulations governing Internet
news content tighten the noose on freewheeling bloggers and aim to rein
in the medium that is a growing source of information for the
mainland's more than 100 million users.

The day we hand the Internet over to the UN is the day we should start building a new one.

  • http://duanegran.com/blog/ Duane Gran

    One of the problems with ICANN and the internet domain registry is the creation of false scarcity. There is, for example, no reason why you shouldn't be able to register a domain name of coyoteblog.whatever. The common suffixes of com, org, net and all the country codes are a useful naming convention, but there is no technical motivation for limiting the namespace.

  • Doug

    The "main computers that direct traffic on the Internet" are just the root nameservers, and there's really nothing other than convention and tradition that gives those nameservers monopoly power to control domain names. Nameservers are what take something like "www.coyoteblog.com" and turn it into an IP address in order to connect to the web site. It would be trivially easy, from a technology point of view, to set up a parallel set of root nameservers. End users have the capability now to decide which nameservers they use (few know how since they have no reason to, but it's not hard to do), so it would just be a matter of getting users to decide to switch. If EU wanted, they could set up their own root nameservers and ask/tell the European ISPs to use theirs instead of ICANN's.

  • http://www.a-musing.com Highway

    Actually, I think it would be easier to get the users to 'switch' than you think, Doug, since most people get the address for their name server from the DHCP server of their ISP. So getting an ISP to switch would be the big thing, then they'd just send the new address for the different name server to all their customers who haven't set up different nameservers. Things like this have already happened, such as the brouhaha Comcast got into shortly after they switched from @Home to their own providing. They directed many subscribers through proxy caches, with the ability to change ads, block certain content, etc. This idea was stopped by outcry from their customer base, although I wouldn't be surprised if they or someone else tried to implement it again.

  • http://inactivity.blogspot.com Inactivist

    Actually, if we ever do hand over control of the internet to the UN, that will tell you that we are going to roll out a 'new' internet - we have a history of 'selling' unwanted and unprofitable junk to governments (AmTrak, for instance). The internet infrastructure is no different... they'll let go of it as soon as it's no longer worth anything and a replacement is ready. :D

  • litz

    If the internet does come under U.N. control, I think we must refuse to use it. Seriously. I know we're all extremely used to routine internet use, but I will disconnect. I will not pay "global" taxes via my internet connection or contribute in any way to the confiscation of a technology that was invented, funded, and maintained by Americans who generously allow the world access to this tool.

    It is not a natural resource that has to be shared, it is literally computers sitting on U.S. soil and our government does not have the constitutional right to relinquish U.S. sovereignty to foreign powers in any way.