A World Wide Web of Oppression

Article excerpt

A United Nations-appointed panel has done it again. Or not done it again, depending on your perspective. What did they do? They convened purportedly on behalf of the best interests of every man, woman, and child on the lace of the Earth--this time regarding the fate of the Internet--though they were not elected to this task by any of the billions they supposedly represent. What didn't they do? Agree, thank goodness.

There are few things worse than unelected, unaccountable "representatives" actually agreeing on what they think is best for the world and leaving the world no say in the matter. Come to think of it, these people do represent someone; they were nominated by the UN secretary-general. The fact that he is knee-deep in the UN's oil-for-food scandal--one of the biggest humanitarian aid swindles in history--just might shake our confidence in his hand-picked team.

Reuters reported on July 14 that this panel, the Working Group on Internet Governance, was unable to reach an agreement on who should manage the Internet and how the job should be done. They did, though, come up with four models for overseeing the Internet that ranged from maintaining the status quo of U.S. management with private sector involvement to putting the assignment of all Internet domains under the auspices of the UN. Reuters stated: "At issue for the world body is who runs the Internet and how it can better serve the world."

To "better serve the world" ... hmm, shades of the old Twilight Zone episode in which aliens visited Earth and brought with them a book reassuringly titled To Serve Man. It turned out that the aliens were taking humans back to their home planet on a one-way trip because ... (spoiler alert) To Serve Man was a cookbook. As this publication has previously noted ("Make Way for the UNternet?" on January 26, 2004, and "UN to Make Internet a Global 'Common Heritage'?" on March 21, 2005), the United Nations has long desired to "serve" the world by running the Internet.

Yet the UN's real stake in the issue is not how the Internet can better serve the world, but how it can better serve world government. For an Internet effectively controlled by the UN is an Internet effectively controlled by government. That the UN-appointed panel was called the Working Group on Internet Governance gives this away. To see what an Internet effectively controlled by government looks like, one need look no further than to a permanent member in good standing of the UN Security Council, Communist China.

Through both technology and regulation, Communist China has severely limited access to the Internet from within its borders, creating what has been called the Great Fire Wall of China. …