Some countries are pushing a proposal to give the U.N.International Telecommunication Union (“ITU”) more control over the internet. The proposal will receive a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives next week.
Currently the internt is “governed” (if you can call it that) by a a collection of non-profit entities. The result has been a lot of freedom and not much regulation. Governments, however, are concerned that they don’t have sufficient control over this massive, still developing communications medium. The U.N. proposal, backed by governments in China, Russia, Brazil, India, and other countries, would give the ITU more authority over cybersecurity, data privacy, technical standards and the Web’s address system.
This is such an awful idea that there appears to be bipartisan opposition to it in Washington, D.C., with both the Obama Administration and both Republican and Democratic lawmakers expressing opposition. Imagine — a proposal that is so obviously terrible that our splintered representatives can agree that it sucks!
And, it does suck. The last I checked, the internet wasn’t broken. We can write what we want, and read what we want, without concern that some ponderous and corrupt U.N. regulatory body will try to stop or direct us. Indeed, the internet is one of the few international activities where cooperation has managed to produce tremendous growth — economic growth, growth in access to information, growth in communications, and growth in freedom. That’s why repressive governments hate the internet. Why would we want to hand repressive regimes a tool they can use to silence critics and punish dissidents? Let’s all hope Congress does the right thing and tells the U.N. to keep their hands off the internet.