WSJ: "The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom" (+ my comments)

(My comments below quoted text.) (WSJ)

"On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could
result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers
over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China,
are pushing hard to reach this goal by year's end. As Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his
allies is to establish "international control over the Internet"
through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a
treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices
Merely saying "no" to any changes to the current structure of Internet
governance is likely to be a losing proposition. A more successful
strategy would be for proponents of Internet freedom and prosperity
within every nation to encourage a dialogue among all interested
parties, including governments and the ITU, to broaden the
multi-stakeholder umbrella with the goal of reaching consensus to
address reasonable concerns. As part of this conversation, we should
underscore the tremendous benefits that the Internet has yielded for
the developing world through the multi-stakeholder model."

- - -

Lauren's Comments:

For those of us who have spent many years warning that the stage was
being set for potentially disastrous regulatory outcomes for the
Internet, and have been pushing for alternatives all along, the
emotions triggered are complex indeed.

Every time we tried to discuss alternative methodologies in this sphere,
the standard push-back response has been, "Oh, if we tamper with ICANN
or the rest of the existing structure, the UN/ITU might take over and
we don't want that!"

But that's exactly what could happen anyway.

It's been a "comfortable" arrangement for the U.S. to effectively
control the Internet, but it's always been clear to many of us that
the current path could lead to exactly the kind of outcome that we all
wanted to avoid.

ICANN has plowed ahead with their extortive get-rich-quick gTLD
expansion scheme. The U.S. has turned the DNS into a mechanism for
unilateral actions over entities in other countries, without such
niceties as due process being required. The list goes on and on.

So no wonder the rest of the world pushes for changes -- and threatens
network fragmentation -- even as their proposed regulatory regimes could
do enormous damage to the Net.

The status quo is going to be history, one way or another.

I have long called for consideration of a purpose-built international
organization to address these issues, unrelated to existing organizations
loaded down with political baggage like the U.N. and ITU.

There may still be time to chart better outcomes than the ones now
barreling toward us.

But there is no time at all to waste.

-- Lauren --
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