Don’t tell Al Gore, but Russia and China are leading the charge to take custody of the internet from a handful of U.S.-based NGOs and give it to the UN.
The BBC reports that Russia has submitted a proposal to give a UN council responsibility for “allocating at least some of the internet’s addresses as well as the ‘determination of the necessary requirements’.” That last sounds vaguely ominous; what kinds of “requirements” would Putin like to place on entities looking to set up shop on the web? More:
President Vladimir Putin has signalled Russia’s final submission could go further. In 2011 he said he was keen to discuss “establishing international control over the internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union”.
The Russia Today news service has since reported that China and India had backed this stance.
The UN, which has a deplorable record when it comes to human rights and basic freedoms, wants control over the most important communications tool in the world? The same UN that elected Iran to the UN Arms Trade Treaty conference, appointed a Libyan representative to lead the Human Rights Commission, named Robert Mugabe its Special Tourism Envoy, and awarded a prize funded by money stolen from Equatorial Guineans by their brutal dictator? Many UN members would like nothing better than to censor or ban the irritating news stories that can so swiftly spread across the web.
Fortunately, the UN negotiation process (as dysfunctional as they come, requiring unanimous consent from however many countries take part) means that the U.S. can veto the idea.
Putin and company know this will happen and presumably plan to decry American unilateralism and dictatorial control. We hope American diplomats can somehow deny America-haters the ammunition, but one way or another, the proposal has to go. The likes of Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong Un can do what they like to the internet within their own borders, but they should have no say whatever beyond them.