UN October Summit Reopens Grab for Global Internet Control

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Accord­ing to a recent report by the French news orga­ni­za­tion Agence France-Presse, “US offi­cials are pledg­ing to fight a fresh effort to give a UN agency author­i­ty to reg­u­late the Inter­net, two years after a huge diplo­mat­ic bat­tle over the issue.”

The AFP sto­ry refers to the upcom­ing Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence in Busan, South Korea, of the Inter­na­tion­al Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Union, the UN agency that deals with glob­al tele­com issues.

When the world’s gov­ern­ments get togeth­er to dis­cuss Inter­net-relat­ed issues, ques­tions about the cur­rent mod­el of gov­er­nance will arise,” says a U.S. State Depart­ment state­ment quot­ed by AFP. “One crit­i­cal moment for those dis­cus­sions will be in Busan, Korea at the Inter­na­tion­al Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union (ITU) Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence in Octo­ber of this year.”

The US gov­ern­ment believes that the Inter­net belongs to every­one, at home and abroad, and that we all have a right and respon­si­bil­i­ty to par­tic­i­pate in its gov­er­nance,” says the state­ment, which is attrib­uted to a blog entry by State Depart­ment offi­cials Daniel Sepul­ve­da, Christo­pher Painter, and Scott Bus­by, who are spear­head­ing the administration’s pol­i­cy on the issue.

The state­ment is clear­ly aimed at allay­ing jus­ti­fi­able con­cerns that Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry are adopt­ing piece­meal the UN plan for “glob­al gov­er­nance” of the Inter­net. (See here and here.)

For those who have been fol­low­ing the administration’s actions regard­ing Inter­net gov­er­nance, how­ev­er, these rhetor­i­cal State Depart­ment assur­ances are less than convincing.

Bob Adel­mann report­ed here in March that the U.S. Depart­ment of Com­merce announced that “in Octo­ber 2015 it will relin­quish all remain­ing con­trol over the ‘root’ of the Inter­net to an obscure but vital pri­vate non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion. That group, the Inter­net Cor­po­ra­tion for Assigned Names and Num­bers (ICANN), promis­es to cre­ate a new struc­ture that will keep the Inter­net pri­vate, safe, and robust. Many free­dom-lov­ing peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions are con­cerned that ICANN will now fall under the gov­er­nance of the UN and the total­i­tar­i­an regimes that make up the bulk of its membership.”

Adel­mann not­ed further:

ICANN has already been under the influ­ence of the Unit­ed Nations for years, belong­ing to the UN’s World Intel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Orga­ni­za­tion, which was cre­at­ed in 1967 alleged­ly to “encour­age cre­ative activ­i­ty [and] to pro­mote the pro­tec­tion of intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty through­out the world.” The World Intel­lec­tu­al Prop­er­ty Orga­ni­za­tion has already exceed­ed its own ini­tial pur­pos­es, mor­ph­ing from “pro­tect­ing” intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty to “trans­fer­ring” those prop­er­ty rights, or their inter­pre­ta­tion of those rights, “to devel­op­ing coun­tries in order to accel­er­ate eco­nom­ic, social and cul­tur­al devel­op­ment,” as deter­mined by the UN.

Fadi Chehade, ICANN’s pres­i­dent and CEO, has signed onto the UN’s Mon­te­v­ideo State­ment on the Future of Inter­net Coop­er­a­tion, which pro­claimed “the impor­tance of glob­al­ly coher­ent Inter­net oper­a­tions,” while warn­ing against “Inter­net frag­men­ta­tion at a nation­al lev­el.” Chehade said ICANN sup­ports efforts “towards the evo­lu­tion of glob­al mul­ti-stake­hold­er Inter­net coop­er­a­tion,” and called for “accel­er­at­ing the glob­al­iza­tion of ICANN’s … func­tions, towards an envi­ron­ment in which all stake­hold­ers, includ­ing all gov­ern­ments, par­tic­i­pate on an equal footing.”

Only a mat­ter of days after the admin­is­tra­tion announced its planned trans­fer to ICANN, the Marx­ist gov­ern­ment of Brazil’s Pres­i­dent Dil­ma Rouss­eff (a “for­mer” ter­ror­ist who still hob­nobs with ter­ror­ists) host­ed the NET­mundi­al con­fer­ence, for­mal­ly known as “The Glob­al Mul­ti-stake­hold­er Meet­ing on the Future of Inter­net Gov­er­nance.” Much of the media reportage on the NET­mundi­al con­fab tend­ed false­ly to por­tray the final out­come of the event as a rejec­tion of the sta­tist pro­pos­als of Chi­na, Rus­sia, Cuba, Iran, and Sau­di Ara­bia and a vic­to­ry for a more free­dom-ori­ent­ed “mul­ti-stake­hold­er” approach. But as Alex New­man report­ed for The New Amer­i­can on April 29 (Inter­net “Gov­er­nance” Sum­mit in Brazil Advances UN Con­trol), NET­mundi­al moved us much clos­er toward an Orwellian sys­tem in which the Inter­net will more and more resem­ble the coer­cive instru­ment as it oper­ates cur­rent­ly Rus­sia and China.

In Sep­tem­ber, the UN-spon­sored Inter­net Gov­er­nance Forum held a four-day con­fer­ence in Istan­bul, Turkey. Although all of the reports and tran­scripts of that con­fer­ence are not yet avail­able, as we not­ed in our report here, the make­up of the offi­cial atten­dees at that event tilt­ed heav­i­ly toward a glob­al, state-cen­tered approach to governance.

The Inter­na­tion­al Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union (ITU) Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence in Busan lat­er this month is cer­tain to tilt even fur­ther in that direction.

Relat­ed articles:

UN Inter­net Sum­mit: Com­mu­nists, Social­ists, Glob­al­ists in Charge of Cyberspace?

UN Grabs for the Inter­net: CFR, Chatham House Lead Toward “Glob­al Governance”

Unit­ed States to Give Up Its Con­trol of the Internet

UN, Islamists & Com­mu­nists Push Glob­al Inter­net Regime

Oba­ma Tries to Bypass Con­gress with Dead­ly Glob­al Inter­net Treaty ACTA

Secret UN Doc­u­ment Lays Out Plan to Seize Con­trol of Internet