plaigerized post from threat wire-- please spread and sign the petitions
Google’s looking for you to pledge your support for the free and open Internet.
From Google’s landing page at google.com/free
and open “A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.” http://www.google.com/intl/en/takeaction/#make-your-voice-heard
Google goes on to state that “the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to re-negotiate a decades-old communications treaty” and that “proposed changes to the treaty could increase censorship and threaten innovation” http://www.google.com/intl/en/takeaction/whats-at-stake/
The event Google’s referring to is the World Conference on International Communications. It’s happening on December 3rd and aims to review a regulation from 1988 concerning telecommunications. http://www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/default.aspx
Let’s take a step back and understand who these ITU people are, how we got here and what this might mean for the Internet.
The International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, was formed in 1865 by the United Nations to coordinate shared global communications technologies, such as radio spectrum and satellite orbits. They also work to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world and establish worldwide standards. Membership consists of 193 countries and over 700 private sector entities and academic institutions.
The World Conference on International Communications, hosted by the ITU in Dubai this December 3-14, aims to review the current International Telecommunication Regulations, or ITRs, which haven’t been updated since 1988 http://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/oth/3F/01/T3F010000010001PDFE.pdf http://www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/default.aspx
Google’s concern is that delegation on these regulations are being conducted behind closed doors, stating “Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.” http://www.google.com/intl/en/takeaction/whats-at-stake/
This is far from the first time the United Nations has weighed in on the Internet. In June the Human Rights Council passed resolution affirming that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any medium of one’s choice” http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/so-the-united-nations-affirms-internet-freedom-as-a-basic-right-now-what/
The motion was even endorsed by countries that currently censor the Internet, including China.
Furthermore in 2011 the United Nations reported that disconnecting people from the Internet is a human rights violation against international law. The report went after France and the United Kingdom for their illegal file sharing “three strikes” law. The report protested the trend of blocking Internet access during times of social unrest, as we saw in Egypt in 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8288163/How-Egypt-shut-down-the-internet.html http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/17session/A.HRC.17.27_en.pdf
So which is it? Is the UN for Internet Freedom or as Google and others surmise, is their ITU a secretive organization with confidential proposals on Internet governance?
To understand that let’s take a moment to briefly review how the Internet we know and love came to be, from government to private, and hopefully, open.
1969 – Internet born, first two nodes (UCLA and SRI at Menlo Park, CA) connect to form what would become ARPANET – the first packet switched network setup by the US Department of Defense for use by universities and research labs http://www.netvalley.com/history_of_internet.html
1973 – The U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recruit Vint Cerf from Stanford University to develop a method of unifying networks. The answer was RFC 675 – what would become TCP/IP – or the underlying protocol of the Internet. http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc675
1989 – The World becomes the first dial-up Internet Service Provider for the general public at a time when access is restricted to academic researchers and the military http://www.theworld.com/
1995 – NSFNET, a network run by the U.S. Government’s National Science Foundation, ends sponsorship of their backbone service and lifts the final restriction for commercial traffic on the Internet http://www.walthowe.com/navnet/history.html
The Internet is privatized – Hooray! But it isn’t anarchy…
The Internet, which is for the most part made up of private networks, is ruled by non-government regulatory bodies
ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
non-profit private organization responsible for, among other things, regulating IP addresses and top-level domains (like .net and .com) http://www.icann.org/
Prior to their creation in 1998 the US government completely controlled the Internet’s domain name system. http://techland.time.com/2011/03/05/icann-vs-the-world/
IETF – Internet Engineering Task Force
An open organization for the purpose of developing and promoting standards made up of volunteers around the world without formal membership http://www.ietf.org/about/
IAB – Internet Architecture Board
Oversees the IETF. Used to be a U.S. Government entity, now part of the Internet Society http://www.iab.org/
ISOC – Internet Society
International non-profit founded in 1992 by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (inventors of TCP/IP), with the mission “to assure the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world” http://www.internetsociety.org/
W3C – World Wide Web Consortium
International standards organization founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) to continue the development of the web. http://www.w3.org/Consortium/
IGF – Internet Governance Forum
More recently the Internet Governance Forum Spawned out of a United Nations sponsored conference and consists of governments, private companies and civil society from technical and academic communities with open dialogue on issues of Internet governance http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/aboutigf
So the Internet is far from lawless…
Numerous laws from around the world govern Internet Service Providers such as the Communications Decency Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Safe Harbor laws, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – those are just a few from the United States http://www.netlitigation.com/netlitigation/isp.htm http://transition.fcc.gov/Reports/tcom1996.txt http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030
What I understand from this is that the Internet has grown from government project to privatized public utility with access being considered a basic human right. For this reason the ITU faces scrutiny as their confidential model flies against the spirit of the Internet.
But not all proposals are secret anymore dot-nxt.com
, an information service covering Internet policy, made all of the documents they have related to the WCIT available publicly on November 22nd.
They state “Any organization divested with the power to make significant and binding change must be obliged to properly account for the views of those it is impacting” http://news.dot-nxt.com/2012/11/23/why-we-are-making-all-wcit-doc
Google isn’t the only one resisting the ITU. The European Union voted last week in favor of a proposal which would see the EU’s 27 nation states, which account for nearly 14% of the 193 ITU nations, voting against the ITR proposals.
Critics also point out that the ITU has no enforcement. The treaties do count as international law so states are bound to observe them. But there is no enforcement mechanism if they don’t.
This isn’t the first time Google has urged citizens to take action
On January 18th Google began its protests to SOPA and PIPA – proposed U.S. laws that would censor the web. You may remember that as the day web sites around the world went dark in protest, including wikipedia. http://www.google.com/takeaction/past-actions/end-piracy-not-liberty/index.html
6 days later the message had changed to “Thank you congress” – the Internet won. http://www.google.com/takeaction/past-actions/thank-you-congress/index.html
Can the Internet win this round?
The only thing an individual can do is be informed and make their government aware their concerns. Ultimately the ITU treaties are voted on by member governments. One vote per country, each vote being equal.
You can get more information about the WCIT and how it may impact our Internet freedom from: google.com/takeaction
What are your thoughts on Internet Governance? Should it be in the hands of the worlds governments? The United Nations? The corporations like Facebook and Google hosting services? The communications companies like British Telecom or AT&T who lay the cables? The citizens? Let us know in the comments. #communities #youtube #grumpycat #ingressinvite