The Threat Of A UN Internet Takeover Is Only 'Vague' Because The UN Shares No Details

from the backroom-deals-are-a-problem dept

We’ve talked for a little while now about the fears that the UN’s ITU (International Telecommunication Union) is seeking to effectively “take over” the internet. In the last few weeks, this has received some (welcome) new attention, including from US officials who worry about what an ITU-managed internet would look like (hint: it would be a lot less open). Of course, now there’s some backlash, with some people pointing out that the actual threats here are “vague.” First of all, that’s not necessarily true. It’s not difficult to actually put together a decent list of possible threats.

But what this really highlights is the true problem here, which is that whatever happens here is happening behind the scenes, in backrooms, without public scrutiny. And, if we’re talking about regulating the internet that the public uses so much, that seems like a pretty big problem. Just as we’ve seen with ACTA, TPP, SOPA and lots of other things, a big part of the problem is the near total lack of transparency in what’s being discussed around these ideas.

In an attempt to deal with this, Jerry Brito and Eli Dourado have hacked together and launched a new site to collect, host and distribute leaked information about the ITU’s plans. With perfect timing, the first documents from the ITU, including some proposed language for International Telecommunications Regulations have leaked. Taking a quick skim, there doesn’t appear to be that much of interest in the initial document leak (I reserve the right to change my opinion once I’ve had more time to read through it in detail…), but it’s an important starting point. These documents and details need to be public and need to be discussed in public, rather than allowing internet governance be determined in a series of backroom deals.

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Comments on “The Threat Of A UN Internet Takeover Is Only 'Vague' Because The UN Shares No Details”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Power comes from the control of information. The Internet is a powerful source of information, therefor people will constantly try to control the Internet to attempt to get it to bend to their will so that they will hold the power.

The problem is a matter of scale, the Internet is too large and widespread for any one organization/nation to control. These idiotic organizations would never be willing to share the power with one another, so they’ll never be able to provide the united front they would need to get control of the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

It would probably be better of in the hands of the UN, then the US would be unable to use a double standard of insisting that china, iran et al be more open and not censor stuff while in the western world trying to tighten up control of the internet and ummm censor stuff.

Under the auspices of the UN the US would be forced to pick a side and chances are it would oppose censorship and tight control as would the rest of the west, while china iran etc would want control they wouldnt want US control and would rather not have control then let the US make choices for them. It would remove it from the day to day politics of the US and the US lobby groups would have a lot less influence.

International control would in fact be best, primarily, due to disagreement, they’d never get around to actually doing the stuff that is currently being done in every country because the US is pushing for it or because some countries leaders are dictatorial control freaks.

Anonymous Coward says:

So the US government’s position is that they don’t know what is proposed to be done with the internet under the control of the UN? The US government has already undermined it’s own creditability with hypocritical actions it does today as poster #1 has mentioned.

Any good will the US government had, it has frittered away with senseless claims of ‘do this’ while it does pretty much the same thing it is bitching about.

Part of the whole problem was brought to light with the Bradley Manning and Wikileaks affair. What is being put out for public consumption and what is being done behind closed doors rings a resonant bell with this only this time it is the US on the outside looking in. Wonder of wonders it somehow now has a problem with the methods?

Anonymous Coward says:

The threats aren’t vague, they are meaningless. The UN doesn’t have the basic power to enforce their “decisions”, and certainly are not in a position to take over anything. The UN can’t even agree that people getting killed in Syria is an issue. How the heck do you think they would do trying to run the internet?

Come on Mike, this has got to be the longest running April Fool’s joke out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Pretty much every nation in the world thinks people being killed in Syria is an issue, they just don’t think letting the US slaughter many times more is a solution.

1 yr of civil unrest/rebellion/government crackdown in Syria led to appx 10,000 dead people on all sides

6 months in Libya with US help led to 30,000 dead

Population of Libya – just over 6.3 million
Population of Syria – just over 20.4 million

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I agree with you. But since the UN cannot agree on basic things (people dying is bad) I doubt they can manage to take control of the internet.

This is not the whole “UN” agreeing on something. This is a very specific group — the ITU — which has a clear agenda, and the issue is very, very real. I’ve seen more info which I’ll be sharing shortly that shows why we should be very worried about this.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Failure to Describe Internet Systems.

I have some concerns with Article 31 of the leaked document. Most of this is a matter of vagueness of language. The document is phrased in the technical language of telephony, rather than the technical language of the internet. It thus fails to distinguish between different kinds of internet names and numbers, most importantly between internet addresses and internet protocol numbers. Likewise, it fails to distinguish between global allocation systems and local allocation systems. Now, of course, the internet is “above telephony,” in the sense that it rides on a series of private telephonic connections between computers. The telephone system is Levels 1 and 2, ie. possibly nonstandard local equipment, and there are a couple of RFC’s dealing with the use of carrier pigeons in that capacity.

The language carries the implication that numbers are scarce, and implies that there can be such as thing as “number-hoarding.” As a matter of mathematics, that is not true. There are an infinite number of integers. Normal practices of “collision avoidance” involve both parties heading off in the general direction of infinity. Orderly procedures are in train to switch the internet over to to IPv6, with 128-bit addresses. When the internet was set up, large blocks of 32-bit IPv4 were reserved for unassigned use, such as virtual addressing. Means have been defined for islands of IPv4 to continue to exist within a IPv6 sea. Over time, of course, the islands will become smaller, but they can continue to exist indefinitely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Failure to Describe Internet Systems.

It sounds more to me to be more about Bogon announcements and prefix highjacking than IP allocation hoarding, but I may be just reading it differently. I do agree though that it seems the writers are more in tune to physical infrastructure than IP addressing, DNS, and routing.

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