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  • Morning Bell: The Danger of International Internet Regulation

    Regulating the Internet is something Americans have resisted here at home. Now that fight is going global.

    The United Nations—of course—has an agency that oversees international telecommunications. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was founded in 1865, when the telegraph was its main concern. Now it’s trying to expand its influence over modern-day communications.

    Starting on Monday, the 193 member states of the ITU will meet in Dubai to update the 1988 International Telecommunications Regulations.

    The ITU is looking to transform itself into a “global Internet rule maker,” according to a new Issue Brief by Heritage’s James Gattuso and Brett Schaefer. “At a time when competition should be making it less relevant, it is expanding its turf.” They set the scene:

    Some countries have proposed granting the ITU more authority over the Internet and making other changes purportedly for such goals as enhancing cybersecurity, reducing costs for developing-country consumers, and increasing investment by telecommunications providers. However, many of these seemingly benign proposals could undermine the Internet freedoms that are essential to spurring economic development and protecting human rights. The U.S. should oppose these efforts.

    As with other United Nations bodies, the U.S. gets one vote that is considered equally with countries like Libya. Of course, in the case of the Internet, many countries’ governments consider it a threat—online communications have helped people organize protests and uprisings like the “Arab Spring.”

    “Governments that will be in attendance at the closed-door…summit—including some that currently censor Internet traffic within their own borders—have proposed amendments to the treaty that could make it easier to monitor and control how everyone uses the Web,” warns Eric Johnson of AllThingsD.com.

    Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Irving said that “fear is a great driver, and people like to regulate what they fear.

    The ITU’s process is anything but transparent, so most of the key details known so far have been leaked, appropriately, on the Internet. According to the leaked documents, several troubling proposals are on the table from different countries, many of which resent the current Internet framework because of a perceived dominance by the United States.

    For example:

    Russia would require networks to identify subscribers when delivering traffic. The sponsoring states argue that these powers would help them fight cybercrime, but they could also be used for censorship and political suppression.

    Schaefer and Gattuso warn that regulating the Internet is, in short, a very bad idea. “At best, this is unnecessary, as the Internet is doing quite well under the current framework. At worst, the expansion will allow the U.N.—parent organization of the ITU—to stifle the Web.”

    The House of Representatives has already spoken out against this international regulation. In August, it unanimously passed (414–0) a resolution urging the Obama Administration to “clearly articulate…the consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control.” Senator Marco Rubio (R–FL) introduced a similar version of this resolution in the Senate that passed by unanimous consent on September 22.

    America cannot stand for any rules that justify or facilitate censorship or repression, or an expansion of the authority of the ITU over the Internet. The freedom of people around the world may depend on it.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Morning Bell: The Danger of International Internet Regulation

    1. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      ICANN is the agency that oversees the internet. It's private. The ITU is run by the UN. We don't need the UN running the internet. The proposed treaty, as written, gives to much power to Beijing and Moscow.

    2. toledofan says:

      Why we would allow the UN to manage anything for us is just nonsense. It's sad because, I'm sure, there will be several Democrats that would support this and I'm equally as sure that Obama would support it as well. It would be best for America to get out of the UN completely and develop a true league of nations who support the same principles that we do rather than cave to the demands of those who don't. Over time, the more the goons and dictatators within the UN try to gain some power and credibility, the more America gives up and it's to their advanage to try and control the internet so they can control their own people.

    3. Longdrycreek says:

      Censorship is always the goal of the dictator or the would-be dictator. I am sure the Stealth Obama will join in the parade to govern the Internet. His goal is to stiffle criticism of his lawless regime.

    4. MJF in CT says:

      The Internet is the only true freedom left in the World. Leave it the heck alone!

    5. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Do we think that the Senate, let by Harry Reid, has not voted on the House passed bill is by accident? Is it not apparent that our UN rep. Susan Rice just happens to be a proven lackey for Obama? Do we not understand Obama is in full support of the ITU? Obama must stop free people from leaning the truth if his agenda is to be completed.

    6. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      This is so far away from the average American's thought process that it is very possible it will be ignored. Obama, and the progressives, socialists, communists, (whatever), are throwing so much at the conservative agenda that the average representative just reacts to today's issue.
      Keep in mind, we still don't know anything about Eric Holder, and his guns to Mexico that killed Amriecans, or the killing of an American Embassdor.

      The politicians, especially the Republicans are so frightened of not getting re-elected, they will forget their pledge of no tax increases or even forget their marriage vows…if it gets them re-elected. Remember, Machievelli…the ends justify the means…

    7. Jim says:

      Supporting the United Nations should not be a priority for the United States. We should stop funding this organization. What position has Amb. Rice taken on this issue? Surely she supports this nonsense, what with our president always willing to support the left leaning organizations that infest the world. Allowing something such as this to influence our internet is surrendering our right to freedom of speech.
      Contact every member of the House and Senate and find out what their views are. Don't wait to find out that one day soon America will again have lost its excellence because of a few thoughtless politicians that we so carelessly elected.

    8. Jill says:

      I think the United Nations is a waste of our tax payer dollars and should be kicked out of New York. Turn the building into Sr. Housing.

    9. Ben C. says:

      At some point Agenda 21 will hit the media and those with any capacity to think will connect the dots. I am afraid we have passed the tipping point for our country and we are going down the drain. Had Romney won I would be more optimistic. He lost and thus our country lost. My take is that there will be civil unrest in two to four years when we implode and I warned my employees to be prepared. Atlas is Shrugging.

    10. Pat P says:

      The average internet user doesn't need censorship. Why doesn't the ITU/UN do something about the cyber crooks "Out of Africa", who keep hacking into our computers and sending us requests for money. They tell us that we have relatives traveling abroad and have been put upon by crooks (like themselves). I don't like knowing that strangers know my name and e-mail address and are using it for scams.

    11. Dave Erhardt says:

      Don't like what the UN has been doing for years. They are trying to be a one world government, losing the sovereignty of individual countries including ours. We need to get out of this one world government organization, and not be governed by it's laws. It doesn't even have a military force. This is organization that favors dictatorships and small countries that are made to feel more important by belonging to this organization. The UN hates democracies and the US in particular. Let's get out before it's too late.

    12. Scarlet says:

      Obama's goal is to regulate everything we say and do. Sadly his followers were greater in number than the conservatives and with the voter fraud, squelching the military vote, etc. we were at the mercy of the corruption by this Administration.

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