Monday, November 07, 2005

Cleaning Up The Internet

Norm Coleman warns the US not to transfer ICAAN to a UN egged on by the EU and other dictatorships. Hopefully the US won't, so the dictatorships will have to put up their own Internets. We can firewall them off, making it really hard for them to launch cyberattacks. What's not to like?

Here's Norm Coleman (WSJ, subscription, my ellipsis):

The threat is posed by the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society taking place later this month in Tunisia.

The low point of that planning session (for the Tunisia meeting) 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.

If you believe the lefty Guardian, there are 4 options on the table (my ellipsis):

1. US
In June George Bush's principal adviser on telecoms and information policy, the NTIA, said that to preserve the security and stability of the system, the US should "maintain its historic role" in authorizing changes to the root zone file, but work with "the international community" on country codes. It stood by ICAAN as technical manager of domain names, and said dialog on internet governance should be in a number of forums rather than one central council.

2. Europe (Statist block)
The EU, led by the UK, proposes an independent ICAAN overseen only by a regular meeting of states to discuss technical issues. At the same time there would be a forum open to all "stakeholders" - essentially a talking shop, probably linked to the UN and meeting alongside other UN events. It would have no power over ICAAN.

3. Iran and Pakistan (Dictatorship block)
Apparently supported by Brazil, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, propose an Intergovernmental Council for Global Public Policy and Oversight (their wording), based in the UN. It would oversee ICAAN and control allocation of internet addresses. Pakistan also proposes an internet governance forum to debate a wide range of internet topics.

4. Argentina (Anti-American whiner block - shame on the Japanese)
Supported by African states, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Ecuador, it calls for an "evolutionary process" of international debate in a forum that would not be involved in day-to-day operations. It also proposes reform of ICAAN to reinforce the role of governments in its decision-making.

What will the control-grabbers do when the US tells them to take a hike? Here's the Guardian prediction (my emphasis and !):

A battle has erupted over who governs the internet, with America demanding to maintain a key role in the network it helped create (!) and other countries demanding more control.

The European commission is warning that if a deal cannot be reached at a meeting in Tunisia next month the internet will split apart.

Viviane Reding, European IT commissioner, says that if a multilateral approach cannot be agreed, countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and some Arab states could start operating their own versions of the internet and the ubiquity that has made it such a success will disappear.

"We have to have a platform where leaders of the world can express their thoughts about the internet," she said. "If they have the impression that the internet is dominated by one nation and it does not belong to all the nations then the result could be that the internet falls apart."

Viviane is confused (I guess he, she, or it is French & has other more incendiary matters to worry about).

China's leaders already restrict their citizens' access to the Internet and censors it with the help of Google and Yahoo. If they set up their own domains and servers, who cares - makes it easier for us to block them and reduces our vulnerability to their cyberattcaks. In fact walling of the dictatorships would be a positively good thing.

Bring it on Viviane!