September 28, 2005

Recipe For Disaster

More sobering commentary on the attempt by the United Nations to seize control of the Internet. Here are some excerpts from the article by Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky and Joseph Barillari:

...even those sympathetic to the idea of an internationally controlled Internet are skeptical of WGIG's proposals: John Palfrey, a Harvard Law School professor and executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, observes that creating an organization with so broad a mandate would be a "terrible idea." Indeed, the history of large bureaucracies, particularly large international bureaucracies, provides little confidence that the U.N. can handle any task without kilometers of red tape, let alone continue ICANN's minimalist private-sector approach. Will the registration of a domain name, now a five-minute process for anyone with a credit card, eventually require approval from UNESCO? Will domain-registration fees, currently a few dollars per domain, skyrocket to subsidize websites for countries without electricity? There are many ways that U.N. control could make the Internet slower and more expensive, and few improvements that the private sector cannot supply...

...Only dictators, and, perhaps, the doctrinaire internationalists who so often abet them, stand to gain from placing the Internet under "international" control. If, for example, the U.N. were to control domain names, its component tyrannies would find it much easier to censor and repress. After all, "internet public policy" is subject to interpretation, and it is hard to imagine international bureaucrats resisting — as ICANN and the U.S. largely have — the temptation to politicize their task...

...Although the Bush administration will not relinquish U.S. oversight of the Internet, a future president may be more willing to make this seemingly small concession to curry favor with internationalist elites or supposed strategic partners. As with the Kyoto Protocol or the International Criminal Court, Washington's refusal to bend to the "international community" over the Internet might be magnified into another gleefully touted example of American arrogance. America's rivals, less constrained by electoral cycles, tend to view foreign policy over the longer term. They are willing to wait. If we are to preserve the Internet as we know it, the Bush administration must take steps to foreclose the possibility of it ever becoming the plaything of dictators.

Posted by dan at September 28, 2005 11:10 AM