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United Nations Readies for Takeover of the Internet
Source: politic365.com
Source Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Created: Jul 03, 2012

There are those who simply talk about problems, and there are those who work to address them. Rep. Bono Mack (R-CA) has demonstrated great leadership in taking action to prevent the UN attempt to take over governance of the Internet.

If you’re not familiar with the issue, I’m not surprised. Even though this could have far-reaching effects on our economy and our wallets, as well as internet freedom, it’s a sleeper issue.

Currently, the Internet – an American invention, after all – is “governed” through a mostly private sector group that reflects the variety of stakeholders who have an interest in a free, open Internet. Most of the stakeholders are engineers and scientists who actually understand how the Internet works, and the non-profit corporation that manages the Internet is a U.S.-based entity. This system has let the Internet grow and flourish for two decades, but it’s now under threat from countries like Iran, Russia, and China that have a very different vision for the Internet – one based on government control rather than the free flow of information to citizens.

At the International Telecommunications Union’s World Conference on International Telecommunications in December, these countries and others want to change the current system to one under the direct control of the ITU – a part of the UN. Governments would have new opportunities to monitor content, set up barriers to the free transfer of information, restrict political discussions they did not like and govern the actual architecture of the Internet itself. They would substitute stifling bureaucratic control for a private- and independent-sector driven model that has provided the innovation and flexibility that has driven the Internet’s success. At the conference, there may even be a proposal to introduce some kind of global Internet tax designed to hit large, successful American companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple.

Given the importance of the Internet to our economy and our daily lives, this is a critical issue for the future. It’s clearly in America’s interest to rally with other countries who believe in the free internet and together defeat these proposals, and keep the Internet open and free.

This is where Congresswoman Bono Mack comes in. She introduced a very strong resolution, H. Con. Res. 127, in the House expressing Congress’ disapproval of any proposals for any kind of government control of the Internet. She also calls on the U.S. to propose a strong delegation leader, “unwavering and principled,” who will stand up to, and rally other nations to go against, any effort to adopt government or UN control of the Internet.

Her resolution, unlike so many these days, has bipartisan support, with the ranking members of the telecommunications subcommittee and the full Energy and Commerce committee supporting it, along with others, for a total of 54 cosponsors so far.

Bono Mack points out that the UN has had the Internet in its sights for almost a decade. The threat—to freedom of expression and the free exchange of knowledge and information—from losing this battle is frightening. As she states, “If this power grab is successful, I’m concerned that the next ‘Arab Spring’ will instead become a ‘Russian winter’, where free speech is chilled, not encouraged, and the Internet becomes a wasteland of unfilled hopes, dreams and opportunities. We can’t let this happen.”

With this resolution, the U.S. negotiators have even stronger support from home for their position, and other countries will be looking over their shoulders wondering what would happen if the U.S. takes away its support for the ITU for other programs.

It’s in everyone’s interest to preserve a free and open Internet. On the Internet, no one and no country is truly an island; we are all interconnected, and what weakens the Internet in one place weakens it everywhere. Brava to Rep. Bono Mack for demanding U.S. government backbone to keep the Internet’s “backbone” from government control.
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