And now, the UNternet?
December 13, 2012
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was established in the 19th century to set uniform standards ensuring the telegraph would provide efficient, reliable communications worldwide.
You should care about the ITU because you’re reading this on the Internet and because the ITU is now a United Nations outfit. Some of the unpleasant regimes that infest the UN are hoping otherwise humdrum ITU treaty negotiations in Dubai this week will set up UN control of the Internet, and there’s concern that Internet freedom may get the kind of Obama administration defense that’s been all too typical in dealings with dictators.
Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal reported State Department negotiator Terry Kramer shunning hard-line positions on Internet freedom, and ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Toure advocating what sounds like making the Internet an instrument of government.
Meanwhile, a separate ITU action advanced another line of attack against Internet freedom, through the adoption of a Chinese government plan that, among other things, will make it easier to locate dissenters.
We hardly need go on about Internet communications such as…oh, say the Wednesday Update—playing an increasing role as the conventional media prove themselves untrustworthy, but…
A pertinent fact about the collapse of Poland’s communist dictatorship during the 1980s is that the regime’s undoing was assisted materially by Western groups providing Poles with FAX machines. The technology helped them bypass the lying, government-controlled media and circulate true accounts of what was going on in the country.
What’s different today is that the Internet can do the same job so much faster and better. No wonder the world’s tyrants are eager to control it, and hopeful that a halfhearted U.S. defense might let them.