Keep the U.N. out of our Internet

Keep the U.N. out of our Internet

: Rebecca MacKinnon gets it almost right in this good post about the U.N. and the Internet. The one quibble I have is that the U.N.’s effort to strongarm its way into Internet governance is not well-meaning; it’s dangerous. Other than that, this is right on:

Iran has arrested its fifth blogger in less than two months, according to Reporters Without Borders. Their press release says: “At the same time, an Iranian delegate is sitting on a UN-created working group on Internet governance. The international community should condemn this masquerade.”

Indeed. This is the problem I have with the U.N.’s well-meaning efforts to shape the future of internet governance. The beauty and power of the internet is that it transcends and supercedes national borders. It makes no sense for internet governance to be based on a U.N.-like jockeying of interests among national governments – many of whom don’t truly represent their own citizens’ interests anyway. Those of us who believe in the international free flow of ideas must fight all efforts to shape internet governance by governments (or any other entities like large corporations for that matter) who have a record of suppressing free speech.

A year ago, when the U.N. was meeting about the internet — with Iranians strutting around as if they supported it — here is what I said:

: Instead of worrying about America and the Internet — since we made it happen, after all — maybe the U.N. should worry instead about Iran censoring the Internet. No, instead, while they were ejecting a representative of an American company, the U.N. invited in a huge delegation of officials from Iran — the same officials who are censoring the Internet.

Yes, the U.N. would be a fine organization to run the technology future of the world.

No f’ing way! They should pry the Internet out of our dead American hands.

And those words were repeated at the conference when blog reporters questioned the U.S. ambassador. More here.

: UPDATE: Susan Crawford says it eloquently, of course, in her report from a meeting on just such topics in Cape Town:

200 years from now, this entire battle will be described in one sentence. Choose one:

a. At the beginning of the 21st century, the world realized that facilitation of openness for the internet (including many choices of rules, devices, regulatory regimes, and end-user applications) would best encourage worldwide economic growth.

b. At the beginning of the 21st century, the governments of the world folded “internet” policy issues into an international telecommunications regime run by the UN. This medium is no longer in wide use.