Last month I griped about the fracturing of the Internet and how the U.N. - specifically countries like China, Cuba, and Iran - wanted to wrestle control from the U.S. from overseeing the Internet. Well, a U.S. Senator has decided to take action. In a WallStreet Journal article, titled "Beware a digital Munich" Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman writes:
It sounds like a Tom Clancy plot. An anonymous group of international technocrats holds secretive meetings in Geneva. Their cover story: devising a blueprint to help the developing world more fully participate in the digital revolution. Their real mission: strategizing to take over management of the Internet from the U.S. and enable the United Nations to dominate and politicize the World Wide Web. Does it sound too bizarre to be true? Regrettably, much of what emanates these days from the U.N. does.
The Internet faces a grave threat. We must defend it. We need to preserve this unprecedented communications and informational medium, which fosters freedom and enterprise. We can not allow the U.N. to control the Internet.
The threat is posed by the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society taking place later this month in Tunisia. At the WSIS preparatory meeting weeks ago, it became apparent that the agenda had been transformed. Instead of discussing how to place $100 laptops in the hands of the world's children, the delegates schemed to transfer Internet control into the hands of intrigue-plagued bureaucracies.
The low point of that planning session was the European Union's shameful endorsement of a plan favored by China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Cuba that would terminate the historic U.S. role in Internet government oversight, relegate both private enterprise and non-governmental organizations to the sidelines, and place a U.N.-dominated group in charge of the Internet's operation and future. The EU's declaration was a "political coup," according to London's Guardian newspaper, which predicted that once the world's governments awarded themselves control of the Internet, the U.S. would be able to do little but acquiesce.
I disagree. Such acquiescence would amount to appeasement. We cannot allow Tunis to become a digital Munich.
Later in the article, he supports his argument with this insightful analysis, "Nor is there a rational basis for the anti-U.S. resentment driving the proposal. The history of the U.S. government's Internet involvement has been one of relinquishing control. Rooted in a Defense Department project of the 1960s, the Internet was transferred to civilian hands and then opened to commerce by the National Science Foundation in 1995. Three years later, the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers assumed governance responsibility under Department of Commerce oversight. Icann, with its international work force and active Governmental Advisory Committee, is scheduled to be fully privatized next year. Privatization, not politicization, is the right Internet governance regime."
The Senator has initiated a Sense of the Senate Resolution that supports the four governance principles articulated by the administration on June 30:
•Preservation of the security and stability of the Internet domain name and addressing system (DNS).
• Recognition of the legitimate interest of governments in managing their own country code top-level domains.
• Support for Icann as the appropriate technical manager of the Internet DNS.
• Participation in continuing dialogue on Internet governance, with continued support for market-based approaches toward, and private-sector leadership of, its further evolution.
I've already expressed my strong opinions on this matter that it doesn't make sense to relinquish control of the Internet to the U.N. for various reasons, but I am quite pleased to see Senator Coleman take up this issue.