Do we really want these people watching over our internet usage?
Keep an eye on this -- the internet is becoming dangerous to the usual suspects, and as such, an effort is underway to undermine our freedom of expression via this backdoor attempt at international "supervision" of the internet. All we need is for the same people who brought us the Oil for Food scandal to be in charge of our internet access, usage and content. And why is a Chinese official in charge when China is actively suppressing and censoring the internet in their own country? I suppose they want to censor mine and yours as well.
Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky & Joseph Barillari
"In my opinion, freedom of speech seems to be a politically sensitive issue. A lot of policy matters are behind it." So observed Houlin Zhao, the man who wants to control the greatest forum for free expression in history.
Zhao, a director of the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and a former senior Chinese-government official, is a leader in the United Nations's effort to supplant the United States government in the supervision of the Internet. At a series of conferences called the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held under the aegis of the ITU, and set to culminate in Tunis this November, the U.N. has floated a series of proposals for doing exactly that.
The U.N.'s professed goals, which include expanding Internet access in developing countries and fighting spam, are laudable. However, the substance of its proposals — shifting Internet governance from the U.S. to a U.N. body — would produce an Internet in which regulations smother free speech, strangle net-driven economic growth, and threaten America's online security.
[...]China, a major proponent of a U.N.-administered Internet, already operates the world's largest and most advanced system of online censorship. Thousands of government agents, including some from ITU Director Zhao's former Department of Telecommunications, make sure that websites, e-mails, and even search-engine results deemed threatening to the regime remain inaccessible to a fifth of the world's population. U.S. companies have shamefully participated in this system, as shown by China's recent jailing of dissident journalist Shi Tao based on information revealed by Yahoo!, Inc. Chinese Internet users are unable to access the websites of the Voice of America or, even, the BBC. The regime's filtering is so sophisticated that many sites, such as cnn.com, time.com, and, curiously, yale.edu, are filtered page-by-page, thus maintaining the illusion of openness. Other WGIG participants have similar policies. Like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia also recognize that control over the Internet brings them closer to control over minds. It is unsurprising, then, that Mr. Zhao and his ilk support the U.N.'s drive to give them more of it.
That the next WSIS summit should take place in Tunisia speaks volumes. The Tunisian government and President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's relatives control all of the country's internet-service providers. As in China, international news and human-rights websites are routinely blocked. Citizens who post their dissent online face lengthy prison terms. That the U.N. would award a meeting on the fate of the Internet to such a regime betrays the incoherence of an internationalism that insists on treating dictatorships and democracies as equals.