In a op-ed piece written by Robert M. McDowell who is a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission for the New York Times Today, Mr. McDowell warns of an international movement afoot to give take control to regulate the domain name system away from ICANN and the US and hand it over to the United Nations.
As the NYT story is by subscription only we can’t quote much from the story but we will highlight a few quotes:
“”On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet.”
“Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year’s end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish “international control over the Internet” through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices”
As bad as we think ICANN is, I think we can pretty much agree that the UN would be worse.
Moreover not only would this treaty take the governance of the domain name system away form ICANN but it would seek to regulate internationally many issues and services around the internet and international mobile traffic as well
Again quoting from the piece published by the NYT:
“Russia, China and their allies within the 193 member states of the ITU want to renegotiate the 1988 treaty to expand its reach into previously unregulated areas. Reading even a partial list of proposals that could be codified into international law next December at a conference in Dubai is chilling:
• Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control;
• Allow foreign phone companies to charge fees for “international” Internet traffic, perhaps even on a “per-click” basis for certain Web destinations, with the goal of generating revenue for state-owned phone companies and government treasuries;
• Impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates, terms and conditions for currently unregulated traffic-swapping agreements known as “peering.”
• Establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder Internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for
• Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that coordinates the .com and .org Web addresses of the world;
• Subsume under intergovernmental control many functions of the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder groups that establish the engineering and technical standards that allow the Internet to work;
• Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.””
“”Any attempts to expand intergovernmental powers over the Internet—no matter how incremental or seemingly innocuous—should be turned back. “”
“”While precious time ticks away, the U.S. has not named a leader for the treaty negotiation. We must awake from our slumber and engage before it is too late. Not only do these developments have the potential to affect the daily lives of all Americans, they also threaten freedom and prosperity across the globe.””
Mr. McDowell has been warning about this coming “treaty” for months which is now scheduled to start talks on next week
Back in December in a piece for the Washington Times, Mr. McDowell warned of this coming threat:
“The United States is unprepared for an international fight that’s brewing over whether the Internet will remain free from government regulations or fall increasingly under the control of emerging global powers.”
“”hey believe the current model is “dominated” by the U.S., and want to “take that control and power away,” Mr. McDowell said. China and Russia support the effort, but so do non-Western U.S. allies such as Brazil, South Africa and India.
“Thus far, those who are pushing for new intergovernmental powers over the Internet are far more energized and organized than those who favor the Internet freedom and prosperity,” he said.””
“They’re very well aware of it,” Mr. McDowell said. “The Obama administration is in the right position. But my concern is that we’re behind the curve.”
A bad treaty – which would need the support of only a bare majority of U.N. members to pass and which the United States could not veto – could bring “a whole parade of problems,” Mr. McDowell said.
The U.S. and other Western democracies would likely “opt out” of the treaty, he predicted, leading to a “Balkanization” of the global information network. Governments under the treaty would have greater authority to regulate rates and local access, and such critical emerging issues as cybersecurity and data privacy standards would be subject to international control.
Mr. McDowell said the treaty could open the door to allowing revenue-hungry national governments to charge Internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon for their data traffic on a “per click” basis. The more website visitors those companies get, the more they pay.””