Saturday, October 22, 2005

Controlling the internet

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, wants control over a key piece of the internet to be taken away from California-based ICANN and given to some multinational body, presumably under UN auspices. Reding argues if the control remains entirely within the US then "countries like Russia, China and some Arab states may start to operate their own versions of the internet". She also states that
While ICANN has been working very efficiently, the EU questions that a monopolistic oversight over the internet by a single government is in the long term a good solution for this global resource, which is of key economic importance but also a network that is pivotal for the freedom of thought and ideas.

"Monopolies are never a good idea if you believe in democracy and in the freedom of the media. The EU therefore believes that ICANN should in future not be overseen by a single government, but should co-operate with all stakeholders around the globe.
What ever happened to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"? This move by the EU has nothing to do with anything Reding has said and all to do with the EU (& others) wanting to control the internet. They want to tax and regulate the internet. If you want to know what sort of regulation to expect from the EU (& others) check out UNESCO's decision this week on "culture".

Not everyone thinks the proposed change is a good idea.
It would be profoundly dangerous to now set up an international mechanism, controlled by governments, to take over the running of the Internet. Not only would this play into the hands of regimes bent on limiting the freedom that the Internet can bring, it also risks stifling innovation and ultimately endangering the security of the system.
No, that's not me speaking, but Carl Bildt, former PM of Sweden, in a recent column. I wish I shared Bildt's optimistic view that some EU leaders are not aware of what is being done in their name. The UNESCO decision shows that the EU is determined to refuse freedom for its citizens in the name of "cultural diversity".