Internet Freedom and the ITU

Looks like it could be happening again. Last time it was the SOPA/PIPA House and Senate bills that eventually went down after The Day the Whole ‘Net Went Away last January. This time the threat is from the International Telecommunications Union (previously the International Telegraph Union), an obscure limb of the United Nations tree.

Just like last time, no leaders of the Internet community are being invited to the discussion.

I have a lot of issues with this, the first being that the ITU wants to move the management of domain names away from the current Internet community driven model. Guess who they want to be responsible for the domain name management? The U.N.

Yep. If they accomplish what they really want, I would have to register (not to mention my business’s domain name and all of my client’s domain names) through the U.N. Absurd.

Second concern: The U.N. thinks they have the right to do this based on a treaty that’s a quarter of a century old. When it was written, not only did Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia not exist, the World Wide Web didn’t exist.

And my final (major) concern: In addition to the U.N. controlling domain names, they would also control the flow, or restriction, of data, effectively allowing them to censor the Internet. I think it’s also important to point out that this meeting is taking place in the United Arab Emirates, a country that is on the Countries Under Surveillance list compiled by Reporters Without Borders. The government forcibly censors anything they consider ‘politically sensitive,’ all Israeli domains, any material considered against the perceived moral values of the UAE. They also prevent most, if not all, VoIP services, such as Skype, Vontage, and the like.

Stay aware of what is going on here. Countries that censor the Internet include Bahrain, Burma, China, Cuba, and North Korea. Not a list I think we should be eager to join.