Ceding the Internet to “Global Governance” Heritage Fountation
Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:24:04 AM by opentalk
Well, we can add another dubious decision to the list of sacrifices the Obama Administration has made to alter of international engagement. Today it was announced that the Obama Administration had agreed to cede much U.S. control over the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that regulates and manages the Domain Name System under which Internet Protocol addresses and registration of top-level domains like .org and .com are assigned. According to a story in the Guardian:
The deal, part of a contract negotiated with the US department of commerce, effectively pushes California-based Icann towards a new status as an international body with greater representation from companies and governments around the globe.
Icann had previously been operating under the auspices of the American government, which had control of the net thanks to its initial role in developing the underlying technologies used for connecting computers together.
But the fresh focus will give other countries a more prominent role in determining what takes place online, and even the way in which it happens – opening the door for a virtual United Nations, where many officials gather to discuss potential changes to the internet.
For decades, the Internet has developed with a minimum of government interference. The core governance of the medium has been performed by non-governmental entities and overseen by the U.S. government, which has exercised a light regulatory touch. It is no coincidence that the medium has prospered from this benign neglect, growing from a research curiosity into a major force in the world economy and an invaluable venue for the exchange of information….
The result of a UN-controlled and regulated Internet would be that non-democratic countries that oppose the right to free speech such as China and grasping, anti-market impulses like those of the European Union would have a greater voice in guiding the Internet in a direction away from “freedom, education, and innovation.” If the Internet cannot be a government-free zone, it should be governed in a manner that minimizes restrictions rather than imposing international standards that restrict Internet freedom. Given the stakes, the U.S. must stand firm and reject efforts to internationalize governance of the Internet.
Quite simply, the decision of the Obama administration increases the vulnerability of the Internet to political pressure, censorship, and strangling regulation and taxation. Welcome to “responsibility and leadership in the 21st century” under the Obama Administration.