by John Hilvert
December 17, 2010
Establishing Global Internet
Police Force to Regulate The Web
WikiLeaks sparks push for tighter controls.
United Nations is considering whether to set up an
inter-governmental working group to harmonize global efforts by policy
makers to regulate the Internet.
Establishment of such a group has the backing of several countries,
spearheaded by Brazil.
a meeting in New York on Wednesday,
representatives from Brazil called for an international body made up of
Government representatives that would attempt to create global standards for
policing the Internet - specifically in reaction to challenges such as
The Brazilian delegate stressed, however, that this should not be seen as a
call for a "takeover"
of the Internet. India, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia
appeared to favor a new possible over-arching inter-government body.
However, Australia, US, UK, Belgium and Canada and attending business and
community representatives argued there were risks in forming yet another
working group that might isolate itself from the industry, community users
and the general public.
"My concern is that if we were to make a
move to form a governmental-only body then that would send a very strong
signal to civil society that their valuable contribution was not
required or was not being looked for," an un-named Australian
representative told the meeting.
Debate on the creation of a new
inter-governmental body stemmed from a UN Economic and Social Council
resolution 2010/2 of 19 July.
The resolution invited the UN Secretary-General,
"to convene open and inclusive consultations
involving all Member States and all other stakeholders with a view to
assisting the process towards enhanced cooperation in order to enable
Governments on an equal footing to carry out their roles and
responsibilities in respect of international public policy issues
pertaining to the Internet but not of the day-to-day technical and
operational matters that do not impact upon those issues."
Much debate concerned the meaning of "enhanced
cooperation" and whether a new inter-governmental body was required.
Participants also debated the roles of existing
organizations - such as the Internet Governance Forum, ICANN and the ITU.
The IGF - an organization that informs the
UN but makes no decisions - is running close to the end of a five-year
mandate, due to expire at the end of the year.
The likes of ISOC, ICANN and more recently the World Information
Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA)
expressed concerns that a working panel to
decide on the future of the IGF has been limited to representatives from
"Australia is a very strong supporter of the
Internet Governance Forum," the unidentified Australian UN
representative said at the New York meeting this week.
"That is very much due to the
multi-stake-holder approach of the IGF. It is an inclusive process."
Australia's Department of Broadband,
Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE)
said that Australian Government welcomed the resolution of the Second
Committee of the United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) to extend the
Internet Governance Forum (IGF) for a further five years.
The DBCDE said it would like to see the organization retain an open and
"Australia has always supported the
participation of civil society and the private sector in the IGF and
regards their participation as being integral to the IGF's success," a
spokesman told iTnews.
United Nations Talks on Internet Regulation
by John Hilvert
December 20, 2010
Vint Cerf, father of the net,
tells UN to back off online regulation
US Congresswoman Offers
Resolution - Hands Off The Internet!
US politicians have responded to moves from within the
United Nations to form an inter-Government panel to regulate the
internet, putting forward a resolution demanding the UN maintain a
Responding to an
exclusive iTnews report on the United
Nations discussion (which overnight became the most read story in iTnews'
history), California Congresswoman
Mary Bono Mack has put forward a
resolution that the United Nations and other international governmental
organizations take their hands off the Internet.
Introducing House Resolution 1775 [see full text below], Mack argued that,
"the Internet has progressed and thrived
precisely because it has not been subjected to the suffocating effect of
a governmental organization's heavy hand.
"The attempt of the United Nations to overtake something that is so
central to our economy - like the Internet - is offensive and completely
out of line," she said.
"We have a hard enough time keeping the Federal Communications
Commission's hands off the Internet; imagine having to convince
governments like Syria, Iran and Venezuela."
Mack insisted that market-based policies and
private sector leadership allowed the Internet the flexibility to evolve and
continue to push the boundaries of innovation.
"I call on the President and his
Administration to oppose any effort to transfer control of the Internet
to the United Nations or any other international governmental entity."
Mack - who is the incoming Chairwoman of the
Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade within the United
States House Energy and Commerce Committee - wasn't a lone voice in opposing
efforts to police the internet in the wake of
WikiLeak's 'Cablegate' fiasco.
A US Congressional hearing calling for criminal charges against WikiLeaks'
founder Julian Assange was also
played down as "extreme".
"There is far too much secrecy and
over-classification in the executive branch, and I think it puts
American democracy at risk." said Congressional Democrat representative
William Delahunt (Massachusetts).
Cerf, Google rally
Vint Cerf, widely regarded as the
father of the Internet, also hit out at the United Nations plan.
"Today, I have signed that petition on
Google's behalf because we don't believe governments should be allowed
to grant themselves a monopoly on Internet governance," Cerf said on
Friday on behalf of
Google where he works as its
chief internet lobbyist.
Cerf said the beauty of the existing governance
structure was that it was "bottoms-up" and influenced by a range of
stakeholders, including companies and academics.
"This model has not only made the Internet
very open - a test-bed for innovation by anyone, anywhere - it's also
prevented vested interests from taking control," said Cerf.
Cert called on concerned stakeholders to sign a
petition penned by, amongst others,
Australia's top level domain regulator,
Internet Governance Caucus
Internet Society and the ICANN
International Chamber of Commerce
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
The text of Mack's House Resolution 1775 reads
Expressing the sense of the House that the United Nations and other
international governmental organizations shall not be allowed to
exercise control over the Internet.
Whereas market-based policies and private sector leadership have allowed
the Internet the flexibility to evolve;
Whereas given the importance of the Internet
to the global economy, it is essential that the underlying technical
infrastructure of the Internet remain stable and secure;
Whereas the developing world deserves the
access to knowledge, services, commerce, and communication, the
accompanying benefits to economic development, education, health care,
and the informed discussion that is the bedrock of democratic
self-government that the Internet provides;
Whereas the explosive and hugely beneficial
growth of the Internet did not result from increased government
involvement but from the opening of the Internet to commerce and private
Whereas some nations that advocate radical
change in the structure of Internet governance censor the information
available to their citizens through the Internet and use the Internet as
a tool of surveillance to curtail legitimate political discussion and
dissent, and other nations operate telecommunications systems as
state-controlled monopolies or highly-regulated and highly-taxed
Whereas some nations in support of
transferring Internet governance to an entity affiliated with the United
Nations, or another international entity, might seek to have such an
entity endorse national policies that block access to information,
stifle political dissent, and maintain outmoded communications
Whereas the structure and control of
Internet governance has profound implications for homeland security,
competition and trade, democratization, free expression, access to
information, privacy, and the protection of intellectual property, and
the threat of some nations to take unilateral actions that would
fracture the root zone file would result in a less functional Internet
with diminished benefits for all people:
Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the
calls on the President to continue
to oppose any effort to transfer control of the Internet to the
United Nations or any other international governmental entity;
calls on the President to,
recognize the need for, and
pursue a continuing and constructive dialogue with the
international community on, the future of Internet
advance the values of a free
Internet in the broader trade and diplomatic conversations
of the United States.
(Additional reporting by Liam Tung)