Just when we thought that the United Nations had enough problems trying to keep its peacekeepers and mission management off of prepubescent girls in Africa and its hands off of aid money intended for the starving and oppressed, we find out that Turtle Bay wants to take on a whole new mission. Now the UN, which brought you the Oil-For-Food scandal and the rape of the Congo, wants to take over the Internet:
The International Telecommunication Union is one of the most venerable of bureaucracies. Created in 1865 to facilitate telegraph transmissions, its mandate has expanded to include radio and telephone communications.
But the ITU enjoys virtually no influence over the Internet. That remains the province of specialized organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN; the Internet Engineering Task Force; the World Wide Web Consortium; and regional address registries.
The ITU, a United Nations agency, would like to change that. “The whole world is looking for a better solution for Internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation,” Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said last year. Zhao, a former government official in China’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, has been in his current job since 1999.
The whole world looks for a better solution? Says who? Perhaps the Chinese look for a solution that would result in an easier way to suppress thought and speech that undermines their autocracy. Zhao seems to answer this in his response to the final question:
People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service? If there are any Internet governance structure changes in the future, I think government rules will be more important and more respected.
All one needs to do is to look around the General Assembly to understand which government rules will get “more respected”. The UN mostly consists of dictatorships and autocracies, which have little use for the free speech and open information that the Internet provides people all over the world. A free Internet threatens their power and their oppressive regimes. Nothing would please them more than to get their hands on the engines of the Internet in order to suppress the information that would inspire their subjects to throw off their shackles and claim freedom for themselves.
Let me put it to all in this light. Will we trust the same organization that put Libya and Cuba in charge of human rights and Syria in charge of counterterrorism to manage the Internet and safeguard free speech?