UN to grab net control at ITU WCIT boondoggle? Perhaps not.

WCIT, the meeting of the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), is said to be plotting to seize control of the Internet. Naturally, this has many right-thinking people up in arms. But it also has a few less-sane voices speaking up.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers stop worrying and learn to love the ITU (only kidding).

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Christina DesMarais brings us the broad strokes of the story:

The United Nations International Telecommunication Union will negotiate new...regulations, including Internet issues, at the [conference] which runs through Dec. 14...a secretive session that involves some countries that oppose a free and open Internet. ... U.S. officials expect other countries to push for international...taxes and for the ITU to take Internet governance away from [ICANN] and other organizations.


A representative from the Internet Society — a member of the ITU — says factors such as competition...transparency and regulatory independence...are not currently addressed in the treaty, which was last negotiated in 1988.  MORE

Leo Kelion notes that notable talking heads are talking:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee - inventor of the world wide web - is the latest voice to raise concerns. ... Internet pioneer Vint Cerf has also highlighted the issue.


But...Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the [ITU] said..."There is no need for the ITU to take over the internet governance." ... Among the proposals being considered is a clause put forward by Russia which...has been interpreted by some as a starting point for...organisations that oversee the internet...to be forced to be pass at least some of their powers to another body. ... The US has already made clear that it would block any attempt by Russia or another country to make changes to internet governance.  MORE

Oh noes! Teh sky is falling! Historian Arthur Herman dons his tinfoil hat:

The goal...is to grab control of the [Internet] away from the United States, and hand it to a UN body of bureaucrats. ... It’ll be the biggest power grab in the UN’s history [and] a perversion of its power. ...bad news for Americans [and] a disaster for the 2 billion-plus users who depend on [it].


The Dubai delegates even want US-based websites like Google...to pay local networks. ... That could make it too expensive to send data...to users in remote Third World countries [which] the totalitarians gathering in Dubai won’t mind.


[We should say] what Ronald Reagan used to say about the Panama Canal: We built it; we paid for it. We intend to keep it as a symbol of freedom.  MORE

Bill Ray strikes a more measured tone (albeit a tiny bit sarcastic):

...governments [will] control citizens' access to the internet...regardless of what the ITU decides. ...countries are (and have always been) free to control information within their own borders. The ITU would like to put that on a more formal footing.


The meeting will run for two weeks, after which the ITU won't have grabbed control of the internet and Google, the US Government and now the EU can all claim a huge victory.  MORE

Your humble blogwatcher is similarly nuanced:

Hmmm, there are, as usual, two sides to this story. While I have little love for the ITU, it's worth bearing in mind that the Internet is already fully controlled by government -- the U.S. government.


I'd like to see the community discuss alternative, better ways of managing the domain space, IP space, routing, standards, etc. Simply sticking our collective fingers in our ears and shouting NO isn't helpful.  MORE

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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