The UN and the Internet

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Be afraid…

United Nations ponders Net's future…
The United Nations wants a big piece of the Internet.

By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

NEXT: Hit the Road, Jack

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  1. I’m just wondering how the UN will get their peackeeping forces into the Internet…

  2. Skip Oliva,

    The U.N. doesn’t have peacekeeping forces.

  3. A UN summit is a lot like a US congressional subcommittee. Lots of blathering and wringing of hands, then they try to take it to the floor, and it gets shot to hell.

    You?d be surprised how many awful pieces of legislation never see the light of day, because they die in subcommittee.

    I can appreciate the desire to help poor countries get connected in an abstract sense, but markets have a way of working themselves out. As more jobs get outsourced to poorer countries, the number of connected in those countries rises. See how easy it is?

  4. “And while I am not in favor of UN in control, why should I be in favor of US government control? Because America is “benevolent” and would never use that control in negative ways? Let’s not be naive.”

    Tu quoque

    You won’t find many Libertarians arguing in favor of the FCC; personally, I don’t think we need an FCC. But whether we should be censored or not or monitored or not is a soverignty issue. And as bad as the FCC is, it’s marginaly accountable to our elected leaders; leaders who were elected in accordance with our Consitiution; a Constitution that guarentees my free speech among other things. The UN does none of that, and, consequently, I don’t care for their input.

    Did you see the quote from the article I posted above, Jean Bart? Here it is again:

    “Khalid Saeed, the secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology, said his country must “play an active role in all layers” of organizations that control the operation of the modern Internet.”

    More specificly, I don’t want the REGIME in Pakistan having a say in ANYTHING having to do with the internet in America EVER. You can add China, Libya and a host of African, Central Asian and South American countries to that list too.

  5. Ken Shultz,

    Whether you care about the nature of the UN’s input is really beside the point; or at least beside the point that I am making.

    That’s not a tu quoque, BTW. If it were, then I would have stated that his claims were false based on some current or past inconsistency. Which I didn’t do.

  6. We could always build a virtual internet for them to play with. They could replace ICANN with a UN agency, dole out domain names, send and receive email, and do other fun things. But, because it would be a virtual internet, no one would get hurt. Call it “SimNet.”

  7. After reading the article and the comments, I have come to two conclusions:

    (1) Everyone here needs to read http://worldofends.com/ (“What the Internet Is and
    How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.”).

    (2) *yawn* I see no problem here. The ‘Net isn’t a “thing”, it’s an idea. You can’t regulate it, and if you could, somebody would just throw up their hands and start a new “internet”. Taxing email? Please, that’s like taxing raindrops. Your country doesn’t like ICANN? Fine, setup your gTLD to use your own root-level nameservers.

    I see only an attempt to “wish” money out of thin air. Keep on wishing …

  8. Wow Steve, great link!

  9. “Whether you care about the nature of the UN’s input is really beside the point; or at least beside the point that I am making.”

    Why I care about the nature of the UN’s input is the center of the argument. The UN is not a representative body, and that’s why I used the word regime. Suggesting that the people of China, Libya, Pakistan, etc. are represented in the UN is to participate in a lie. The regime is represented, but the people are not.

    That’s the problem with the UN weighing in on an issue like this. The UN is unelected, so it has neither legitimacy nor authority. None of our treaties give the UN the ability to regulate something like this, we have NEVER compromised out soverignty for the UN, and I doubt we ever will.

    One reason is that I think its unlikely that our Congress is going to sit on its hands and breathe through its nose while the UN walks off with something that our politicians can regulate; something that can give our representatives and senators face time on TV.

    P.S. Other than claiming that the UN isn’t any worse than the FCC so we should give the UN the keys to the car, what was your point, Jean Bart?

  10. I’m with Ken. I remember back in my Model UN days (insert joke here). It was a pain in the ass to get people to realize that as UN delegates, it wasn’t in our interests to support policies that promoted liberty (my school always got stuck with Sudan or some other crap bucket). They didn’t realize that policies that led to the overthrow of their illiberal governments and allowed the UN to violate their sovereignty to promote human rights meant that they too would get thrown out. It was educational to learn that the UN is basically a government of regimes, for regimes and by regimes.

  11. Ken,

    “Other than claiming that the UN isn’t any worse than the FCC so we should give the UN the keys to the car, what was your point, Jean Bart?”

    When you can stop grossly and purposefully misstating my arguments, I would be amenable to answering your queries.

  12. Ken,

    BTW, it is readily apparent from my statements that I would privatize the entire matter and have no government regulate or control it – be it the U.S., UN, EU, or whomever. Given that my thoughts on this matter are rather apparent, it is revealing that you would perfer to lie about my statements than simply address them in an honest fashion.

  13. You’re right Jean Bart, I missed your earlier statement(s) entirely, and I apologize for equating your argument with giving, “…the UN the keys to the car.”

    But, I would still argue that qualifying the UN’s input on such matters as being no worse than US government regulation via the FCC is a non-starter as arguments go.

  14. > Such structures “must be made accessible and responsive to the needs of all the world’s people,” Annan said.

  15. > A Bush administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity told CNET News.com that the administration was steadfastly opposed to the United Nations’ plans

  16. “while I am not in favor of UN in control, why should I be in favor of US government control?”

    What are you in favor of?

  17. Ken,

    When did I write anything about the FCC?

    dj of raleigh,

    Privatization obviously.

  18. “And while I am not in favor of UN in control, why should I be in favor of US government control? Because America is “benevolent” and would never use that control in negative ways? Let’s not be naive.”

    Most would conclude that “US government control” equals the FCC, yes?

  19. Too bad Ayn Rand is dead. She could have had some creatuve genius individualist make a 56 page speech to Kofi Annan on the floor of the UN in her forthcoming novel.

  20. OK, most of it’s bunk, but China (and it’s 9 million IPV4 addresses) has a pretty legitimate gripe.

    1/2 as many addresses for all of China as for Stanford U?

    Of course, the only answer is IPv6, which is already rolled out in most places.

  21. Ken,

    Not I; I am not particularly aware of its regulatory powers as an agency.

  22. And Annan would deserve it, too, JDM.

  23. Um, screw them. Not much else to say.

  24. oh man… well, it was too free to last forever. let the clipping of the wings begin.

  25. If they succeed in doing everything they want to to the Internet (as if), it will be screwed up so badly we will need a whole ‘nuther cyberspace to work in. I mean, we’ll have the ruins of bureaucracy over HERE, and the good little volunteer subversives carrying on good old-fashioned business over THERE the way it was before the UN got involved. I hope.

  26. Unless the US agrees to change things (which doesn’t appear likely), the UN can harp all it wants, it’s not gonna get its grimy hands into the Internet pie. Which is as it should be: if the UN doesn’t like the way the Internet is run, it can build its own network.

    Funny how the French govt is all in favor of this. Why don’t they just promote Minitel as an international alternative to the Amero-centric Internet? Sigh, I guess the attitude is if you can’t beat ’em, take ’em over via the UN.

  27. It would be kind of funny if they do get control of the internet, and then appoint China and Iran as the chairs of the Internet Free Speech Commission.

    Funny-weird, that is, not funny-haha.

  28. Same old story, different author.
    “A” creates something, it becomes successful, “B” decides he wants some, too, and cooks up an elaborate rationalization for its theft. The most powerful gang will win, regardless of the righteousness of their claim.

  29. Typical – when a government sees something new, it has to try and control it, because what else do governments do? Control is their very essence and it’s all they understand. If they didn’t control things, they wouldn’t have a reason for existing.
    Some of them don’t even seem to get that there are things that exist outside anybody’s control: “Dozens of delegates from developing nations…argu[ed] that their governments do not have a voice in the way the Internet is operated.” They think there’s an evil dictator of the internet who’s keeping them out, maybe? They should just whine until he lets them control part of it? I wonder how many of these delegates could tell you anything useful about how the internet actually works.

    Anybody ever read any of the UN’s internal publications? They’re a hoot. Pretty much everything is either “This project has been a tremendous success, so give us more money” or “This project has been a huge failure, so give us more money.”

  30. crimethink,

    Minitel is more like an intranet (though it now has access to the internet); and it has been extremely successful. And while I am not in favor of UN in control, why should I be in favor of US government control? Because America is “benevolent” and would never use that control in negative ways? Let’s not be naive.

  31. Am I the only one who coughed up a lung when I read this:

    “As far back as 1999, a U.N. agency proposed taxing all e-mail messages to pay for development aid. “There is an urgent need to find the resources to fund the global communications revolution to ensure that it is truly global,” the 1999 report said. “The costs for users would be negligible: Sending 100 e-mails a day, each containing a 10-kilobyte document (a very long one), would raise a tax of just 1 cent.”

    The United Nations hastily backed away from that proposal, however, after prominent members of the Congress slammed it as a ‘bureaucracy looking to get its greedy mitts on the Internet through new taxes’.”

    Which Congress are they talking about? Congress, Arizona?

  32. And while I am not in favor of UN in control, why should I be in favor of US government control? Because America is “benevolent” and would never use that control in negative ways? Let’s not be naive.

    The difference is that the US govt created the internet (in the beginning, at least). Anyone who doesn’t like that is free not to use it.

    That’s hardly the same as the UN taking over something it never had any part in creating or developing. It’s the difference between ownership and theft, essentially.

  33. Of course, they could always build their own..
    oh wait, that’s right, they CAN’T.

  34. crimethink,

    Why doesn’t the U.S. government simply leave the field then?

    Jeff,

    The idea that something similar to the internet is outside the technical expertise of France, Germany, etc. is a somewhat silly assertion. Given that the cellular phone standard is European, and that the US is slowly adopting it, it seems especially silly. None of which makes me desire that the EU, the UN, or any government entity control that standard.

  35. Anybody else read news like this and become physically sickened?

    Sometimes I get so angry and disgusted I feel like I could just explode into a million bits.

  36. “Khalid Saeed, the secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology, said his country must “play an active role in all layers” of organizations that control the operation of the modern Internet.”

    Why?

  37. Easy, Chris.
    The weekend is just around the corner.

  38. Jean Bart

    Why should the U.S. gov’t leave the field? U.S. taxpayers funded it, paid for its design and deployment as ARPAnet. In fairness, it was a Swiss based IBM researcher who made it an everyman’s tool and entertainment with the definition of the WWW, html and the browser. IBM certainly got its money’s worth paying that guy’s salary!

    Given the advances of both Euro and Japanese consumer telecom devices and standards, no one would suggest Euros don’t have the technical sophistication to create an internet. Instead of suggesting the U.S. leave the field, why don’t you petition the EU to design an alternative that meets your requirements. I’ll bet you wouldn’t live long enough to see its deployment.

    As for the U.N. whining about IP access, bring on IPv6 with 128 bit addressing. If my calculator exponeniates correctly, each of 7 billion people could have 48 billion billion billion IP numbers of their own. Now go away, UN.

  39. Jean Bart,

    Mobile-telephones are very common here but for a different reason than pure technological prowess. I wish we had the know-how here. Even ISDN/SDSL lines are surprisingly slow, too.

    Celluar technology is spreading over here because the phone system is antiquated, it takes for Ever and Eternity to get a line installed, and in housing that was built in the years immediately after the War, you can hear the switches as the phone is about to ring.

    We are definitely taking advantage of the technology that is widely available in the area. Oh – that is a good argument for free trade. Now if we can keep the UN out, then we have something to work with

    Would that we could have such technical expertise. Now it appears as though we have skiiers and Governors. “The hills are alllliiivveeee.”

    regards,
    Karl

  40. Hasn’t the UN become more expensive than it is useful? Can’t we pull out already?

  41. chuckR,

    “Why should the U.S. gov’t leave the field? U.S. taxpayers funded it, paid for its design and deployment as ARPAnet.”

    Hmm, the publicly-financed trunk of the internet is miniscule in comparison to the privately financed portion. At this point the U.S. government has taken on at best a “caretaker” role.

    “In fairness, it was a Swiss based IBM researcher who made it an everyman’s tool and entertainment with the definition of the WWW, html and the browser.”

    Actually, the WWW is due to the efforts of an Englishman and two French-speaking Swiss.

    “Instead of suggesting the U.S. leave the field, why don’t you petition the EU to design an alternative that meets your requirements.”

    That’s an utterly stupid idea; and it really ignores my point, and suggests some sort of jingoistic concern on my part. Since did privatization become jingoism?

  42. What Jason Ligon said. Times 10.

  43. Jean,

    An article here would see to contradict you statement on the Euro standard being adopted in the US. If anything the exact opposite seems to be happening.

  44. Nuts, that should read “seem” & “your statement”.

  45. Off subject.
    near Stephensplatz today there were PETA campaigns that made the comparison between the animal slaughterhouses and the Concentration Camps. Besides being an outrageous, terrible, awful, wrong, evil comparison that minimises the uncleanable stain on the history, it is insulting on so many other levels.

    One “tussi” just said something like, “I don’t understand what the fuss about the comparison is about. Why don’t we focus on the poor animals more?”

    Chris, I am about to explode into millions of little, tiny pieces, too.

    (One animalactvist i know wants the UN to undertake animal protection as a part of “human rights”, so this is maybe 0.0001% relevant)

    Regards
    Karl

  46. Tom T,

    Well, the world-wide standard is GSM; and the article appears to ignore the newest version of GSM that is better than CDMA.

  47. Tom T,

    Indeed, from what I read of the article, it did not even mention EDGE; which allows data transfer at much higher speeds than CDMA currently allows.

  48. Tom T.,

    CANNES, France, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire/ — 3G Americas reports 100% annual
    growth for GSM in 2003, giving GSM by far the largest percentage gain of any
    wireless technology in the Western Hemisphere. Based on data from EMC, GSM is
    outpacing all other wireless technologies in Latin America, increasing its
    subscriber base by nearly 150% in 2003, almost six times more growth than the
    next most popular wireless technology. The rapid deployment of GSM/GPRS on a
    nationwide basis in Canada and the U.S. contributed to GSM’s 77% growth in the
    North American market in 2003. GSM is the number one technology choice by new
    customers throughout North, Central and South America.

    GSM posted a solid fourth quarter 2003 adding more than 11 million
    subscribers in the Americas and claiming nearly 90% of the total new quarterly
    customers in the region. “In 2003, the Americas saw a proliferation of new
    and overlaid GSM networks emerge,” stated Chris Pearson, President of 3G
    Americas. “This growing footprint delivered GSM to many wireless customers
    and was further expanded through numerous roaming agreements between national
    and rural GSM operators.” Pearson continued, “It is phenomenal to think that
    9 out of 10 new customers in the region chose GSM in the fourth quarter of
    2003 and we see that momentum continuing in 2004 as well as the uptake of EDGE
    third generation services.”

    Operators continue to select the GSM family of technologies — GSM, GPRS,
    EDGE and UMTS/WCDMA — for its combined benefits of economy of scale, voice
    capacity, advanced data capabilities, quality of service and global roaming.
    As evidence of this, 52 new GSM networks were launched in the Americas in the
    past year. Additionally, since mid-2001, 40 TDMA operators in the region
    began their GSM migrations and in 2003 four CDMA operators switched over to
    the GSM migration route.

  49. I just wanted to note that there are solid reasons to distrust Declan McCollough’s reporting and want to see some independent confirmation. He has a history of misrepresentation – he’s the one responsible for the “Gore says he invented the Internet” story, and is proud of it rather than embarrassed. There was a useful summary of the matter a while back at Salon, among other places.

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