According to a recent report by the French news organization Agence France-Presse, “US officials are pledging to fight a fresh effort to give a UN agency authority to regulate the Internet, two years after a huge diplomatic battle over the issue.”
The AFP story refers to the upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan, South Korea, of the International Telecommunications Union, the UN agency that deals with global telecom issues.
“When the world’s governments get together to discuss Internet-related issues, questions about the current model of governance will arise,” says a U.S. State Department statement quoted by AFP. “One critical moment for those discussions will be in Busan, Korea at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in October of this year.”
“The US government believes that the Internet belongs to everyone, at home and abroad, and that we all have a right and responsibility to participate in its governance,” says the statement, which is attributed to a blog entry by State Department officials Daniel Sepulveda, Christopher Painter, and Scott Busby, who are spearheading the administration’s policy on the issue.
The statement is clearly aimed at allaying justifiable concerns that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are adopting piecemeal the UN plan for “global governance” of the Internet. (See here and here.)
For those who have been following the administration’s actions regarding Internet governance, however, these rhetorical State Department assurances are less than convincing.
Bob Adelmann reported here in March that the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that “in October 2015 it will relinquish all remaining control over the ‘root’ of the Internet to an obscure but vital private non-profit organization. That group, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), promises to create a new structure that will keep the Internet private, safe, and robust. Many freedom-loving people and organizations are concerned that ICANN will now fall under the governance of the UN and the totalitarian regimes that make up the bulk of its membership.”
Adelmann noted further:
ICANN has already been under the influence of the United Nations for years, belonging to the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization, which was created in 1967 allegedly to “encourage creative activity [and] to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.” The World Intellectual Property Organization has already exceeded its own initial purposes, morphing from “protecting” intellectual property to “transferring” those property rights, or their interpretation of those rights, “to developing countries in order to accelerate economic, social and cultural development,” as determined by the UN.
Fadi Chehade, ICANN’s president and CEO, has signed onto the UN’s Montevideo Statement on the Future of Internet Cooperation, which proclaimed “the importance of globally coherent Internet operations,” while warning against “Internet fragmentation at a national level.” Chehade said ICANN supports efforts “towards the evolution of global multi-stakeholder Internet cooperation,” and called for “accelerating the globalization of ICANN’s … functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.”
Only a matter of days after the administration announced its planned transfer to ICANN, the Marxist government of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff (a “former” terrorist who still hobnobs with terrorists) hosted the NETmundial conference, formally known as “The Global Multi-stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance.” Much of the media reportage on the NETmundial confab tended falsely to portray the final outcome of the event as a rejection of the statist proposals of China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, and Saudi Arabia and a victory for a more freedom-oriented “multi-stakeholder” approach. But as Alex Newman reported for The New American on April 29 (Internet “Governance” Summit in Brazil Advances UN Control), NETmundial moved us much closer toward an Orwellian system in which the Internet will more and more resemble the coercive instrument as it operates currently Russia and China.
In September, the UN-sponsored Internet Governance Forum held a four-day conference in Istanbul, Turkey. Although all of the reports and transcripts of that conference are not yet available, as we noted in our report here, the makeup of the official attendees at that event tilted heavily toward a global, state-centered approach to governance.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference in Busan later this month is certain to tilt even further in that direction.