Tags: un | internet | regulation | dubai

UN Internet Regulation Talks Begin in Dubai

Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 02:15 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The Internet — and the slippery subject of whether it can be subjected to strict censorship by the United Nations — is reportedly under discussion this week at a tense closed-door technology conference in Dubai.

There are ongoing rumors the International Telecommunication Union, the U.N. agency that oversees communication technologies, is quietly considering the possibility of trying to become the lord overseer of the World Wide Web.

While United Nations officials emphatically deny this — the scuttlebutt has continued.

So much so that government officials are chiming in that they plan to fight any attempt at internet censorship.

“Nothing regarding the Internet do we want subject to U.N. review and regulation,” US Ambassador Terry Kramer told FoxNews.com.

Adding to the intrigue over possible internet rules is that most of the World Conference on International Telecommunications, an eleven-day summit now in its second day, is taking place mostly behind closed doors.

But FoxNews.com reports that the Russian delegation has already declared "the sovereign right . . . to regulate the national Internet segment."

Whether the ITU could garner the power to regulate the Web is highly questionable, according to technology experts.

“I thought it was crazy, too, when I first heard about the idea of handing over regulation of the Internet to an obscure U.N. agency,’’ writes Mike Cassidy, a columnist with the San Jose Mercury News.

“I mean, come on. Are black helicopters going to be buzzing our backyards to see what we're liking on Facebook? … Is some nasty regime going to shut down the Internet, as if we're living in some postapocalyptic PG-13 movie?’’

Digital media expert Dan Gillmor writes in London’s Guardian newspaper that the conference is “seen widely in the internet community as a power grab [by the ITU].

“The very idea that the ITU could obtain and exert major regulatory powers over the internet is a happy one only to dictators and others who believe the internet needs to be controlled.’’

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