We Run This Internet Village

Last night at about midnight I got a somewhat surprising message on social media from my mother, who is almost as much an insomniac at times as I am.  I was a bit surprised to see that she would stay up until 3AM or so to send me a message, but once the content of her message was seen, it made sense that she would feel it necessary to inform me.  The message itself was straightforward, and that was that there was a great threat to those of us who do a lot of writing online and who have drawn a fair amount of scrutiny for it [1] in the probability of the UN running ICANN, the organization that controls access to creating websites, the regulatory body that approves or refuses to approve new extensions, which is until October 1 at least a government-regulated and protected monopoly ruled over by the United States.

Thinking that this message of gloom was itself perhaps a bit overdone, I went about and did some reading myself despite the late hour, and I found out that it was a matter talked about in all kinds of news resources [2].  So, it was clearly legitimate, and the gist of it goes as follows, with some permission for a bit of summarization.  Our current administration is abandoning efforts at preserving the anti-trust exemption that ICANN has to run the internet, that organization has shown itself unable to police it self and is looking basically for its own profit and increasing its own rental income as a result of being the gatekeeper of the internet, and that as a result of the refusal of the US Government to regulate the agency and the agency’s openly apparent inability to regulate itself, it will likely fall to the United Nations to regulate the internet and the gatekeeping into it.  This is a solution that few people, at least not freedom-loving bloggers like myself, particularly enjoy.

It may be thought that my hostility or opposition to the governance of the internet by the United Nations is due to simple prejudice on account of being an American.  No doubt this is to some extent true, but it is due to far more than that.  As someone who has traveled to other nations and witnessed and indeed seen firsthand the sort of scrutiny that bloggers have to deal with in many other countries simply for exploring the sort of book review and historical research that is fairly commonplace for a well-educated Westerner, this is something that is not an idle problem.  The fact that I am somewhat well known within my circle of friends, family, and acquaintances as a particularly prolific speaker of unpleasant truths and personal opinions without an evident desire for political trimming and machination has meant that those people have a good cause to be concerned about the well-being of those who seek to speak the truth regardless of how politically unpopular it may be.

Let us ponder what the UN is likely to do with regards to the internet.  ICANN, at present, appears to be most focused on handling the internet in such a fashion as redounds the most to its own profit.  This corruptibility makes it susceptible to the sort of pressure that large and unfree nations like Russia and China, among many others, are likely to put on it for twisting access to the internet and the regulation of its content in such a way as represents their own corrupt interests.  The fact that there are so many nations around the world where a tradition of openness to a free press and the democratization of journalism that is represented by independent writers is weak represents a considerable threat to such openness in the future.  Most authorities, regardless of what institutions they serve in, are not necessarily happy to receive critique and correction and admonishment from others, especially their own subjects.  It is rare when either the inherited legal climate or humility and openness triumph over this natural human tendency for defensiveness, for the desire of using one’s power to silence dissent and enforce conformity and submission, if not outright consent and agreement, to the behaviors and desires of those in command.

What does this mean?  It is hard to know at this point.  It will likely take some time to set up an international bureaucracy to govern the internet.  There will likely be some sort of anarchical space in the internet at first in the absence of government regulation, where ICANN attempts to serve as some sort of kingpin profiting off of corruption within the space of the internet, and is then countered by some sort of international regulatory body of law, or is confronted by laws in the larger and more important nations and supranational organizations that exist within the world.  The real threat is that as the consensus of the General Assembly UN involves tyrannical regimes, UN control of the internet by definition would mean that the internet use of Americans would be regulated and inhibited by these corrupt and tyrannical regimes.  We would all be living like one lives in an unfree and corrupt nation like Thailand, Russia, or even perhaps Iran or Eritrea.  Can our freedoms long endure in such an internet?  Oh, that our leaders had the moral courage to stand up for our freedoms, even in the face of international disapproval, if only to ease the pressure that is likely to fall on those people who do stand up against the corruption and evil around us in the world today.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/popo-dont-you-lose-my-number/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/please-remember-to-obey-the-law/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/the-day-the-internet-went-away/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/never-befriend-a-blogger/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/the-new-pharisees-or-everything-was-black-and-white-inside/

[2] See, for example:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/an-internet-giveaway-to-the-u-n-1472421165

https://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=2819

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/08/29/icann-un-take-internet-oct-1/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to We Run This Internet Village

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Gatekeepers | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: There Is No Net Neutrality | Edge Induced Cohesion

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