Who runs the Internet? For now, the answer remains no one, or at least no government, which explains the Web’s success as a new technology. But as of next week, unless the U.S. gets serious, the answer could be the United Nations.

Many of the U.N.’s 193 member states oppose the open, uncontrolled nature of the Internet. Its interconnected global networks ignore national boundaries, making it hard for governments to censor or tax. And so, to send the freewheeling digital world back to the state control of the analog era, China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are trying to hijack a U.N. agency that has nothing to do with the Internet.

Next week the ITU holds a negotiating conference in Dubai, and past months have brought many leaks of proposals for a new treaty. U.S. congressional resolutions and much of the commentary, including in this column, have focused on proposals by authoritarian governments to censor the Internet. Just as objectionable are proposals that ignore how the Internet works, threatening its smooth and open operations.

Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla. The Internet is made up of 40,000 networks that interconnect among 425,000 global routes, cheaply and efficiently delivering messages and other digital content among more than two billion people around the world, with some 500,000 new users a day.

The self-regulating Internet means no one has to ask for permission to launch a website, and no government can tell network operators how to do their jobs. The arrangement has made the Internet a rare place of permissionless innovation. As former Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard recently pointed out, 90% of cooperative “peering” agreements among networks are “made on a handshake,” adjusting informally as needs change.

Blah, blah, yadda, yadda. Just read it and weep.

  1. pmr says:

    …and I feel fine!

  2. Dallas says:

    It’s Bush’s fault of course

    • Trex says:

      Um, it depends on which one of the Internets we’re talkin’ bout. But yeah, Bush sux.

  3. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

    Every country can and should “regulate” any and every activity that crosses their border and takes place within it. If Russia wants a Big Brother internet, then thats what they should have.

    What in the world makes anyone think the INTERNET should be any different than any other mother loving thing in the Universe?

    This issue was lost when food and medicine coming into or simply existing in a State is controlled by that State.

    They could all choose to let the Internet be free… but governments hate freedom.

    People being people all enslaved by the governments they empower. Same as it ever was.

  4. NewformatSux says:

    So you think the US government should remain in control? The US should delegate all authority to the rest of the world.

    • Ding-A-Ling says:

      You seem to be saying that if we develop our own roads and let foreigners drive on them — for free even — that we should therefore let those foreigners dictate the rules of the road. I say, BULLSHIT!

      The U.S. PUBLIC should maintain control of the Internet if for no other reason than the fact that the U.S. pretty much invented the “Internet”!

      And don’t be so quick to point out CERN or the likes of Tim Berners-Lee either. He, Robert Cailliau and others only developed HTML and a concept called the World Wide Web (WWW) which is only PART of the Internet as a whole. (BTW, CERN is located in Switzerland.)

      But without U.S. taxpayer funded networks like ARPANET or others like Tymnet, Telenet, or even FIDOnet, the CERN-backed WWW would never have gone off like it did or helped to transform the already THEN 25-plus year-old ARPANET into what we now know as the modern day Internet. So it’s one thing to have a nice fast Ferrari but without roads what’s the point?!

      So I say if we Americans made it then we should keep it! We should also be very careful about who we let have control or throw their weight around. And when some dip shit organization like the MPAA/RIAA seems to be buying members of Congress in order to back bills like SOPA/PIPA it does seem troubling to the rest of the world. Hopefully, you can see that too and maybe NOW see why there’s talk about a world wide Internet power grab.

      But this U.N. power grab is absolutely NOT the answer. If anything, other countries should be given a say in what happens with the Internet and whether or not they have access to it. But CONTROL of the Internet must remain with those who developed it – which isn’t even a government! And that’s absolutely NOT somewhere like Dubai or anywhere else still ruled by a KING!

      • CrankyGeeksFan says:

        “You seem to be saying that if we develop our own roads and let foreigners drive on them — for free even — that we should therefore let those foreigners dictate the rules of the road.”

        The problem with this analogy is that our own roads are in the U.S. – that we pay for – and the foreigners have their own roads that they pay for.

        See my post below: I think it has to do with the way domain names are assigned.

  5. MWD78 says:

    this makes about as much sense as when the US Postal Service was lobbying to have email require “stamps”.

  6. The Watcher says:

    Zero already wants to be able to shut down the Internet to avoid an “Arab Spring” when he steps too far over the line trying to enslave us.

    He would sign this in an instant….

    He also wants to sign the “Arms Control” treaty. Not too terrible as it stands, but full of cute things, like the UN can change the treaty at any time, any way they want it, and we can’t object. In short, he wants to turn our Government over to the UN….

  7. AlanB says:

    Sing the petition if you’re so inclined:


    I did.

    • Gary says:

      Done, and Thanks!

    • AlanB says:

      If we sing the petition we can sign the praises of an open internet. Read what I mean and not what I say. Ugh. Too many late nights. 🙂

  8. JackOShyte says:

    The UN should’ve been dissolved years ago.

  9. kjb434 says:

    UN, the league of Human Rights abusers and dictators want to control the flow of information. Tell us something new.

  10. deowll says:

    The majority of the people of the US like big government telling them what to do. That way they don’t need to think. Of course most of them don’t do that anyway beyond the next football game or prawn show.

    • Gwad his own self says:

      Nah, the majority of the people in the US just ignore the government. They certainly don’t LIKE it, they are simply indifferent, just as they’re indifferent to pretty much everything else. Likewise they don’t know anything about anything either.

      Face it, there are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who know binary math and those who don’t. Bah dah boom.

      But seriously folks, 2% of the people in the world have enough power to control others, about 20% are aware of this, and the rest don’t know and don’t want to know anything about it.

  11. orchidcup says:

    The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.

    — Mark Twain (1835-1910)

    • Gwad his own self says:

      “I never said half the crap people say I said on the internet. However the stuff that I really said will prove to be remarkably, and I mean astoundingly remarkably astute.”

      -Mark Twain

  12. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    The present situation allows the US Government to cut off any .com domain name – even the domain name of a foreign company that registered its name properly (pointed out on this blog).

    Also, it took way too long to allow non-Roman alphabet characters in domain names.

    Internet censorship is a separate issue entirely.

    The present situation doesn’t take into account the various countries’ laws regarding corporation namings, etc.

  13. Charlie Primero says:

    The World Government will eventually control the Internets.

    There was a time when most people thought government licensure to drive a car was insane. Now it’s the opposite.

    This is a long-term plan.

    • McCullough says:

      Driving a 4000 lb. vehicle and the responsibilities that go along with that, is the same as free access to information.

      Yeah, sure it is.

      • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

        Everything IS connect4ed to everything else. Just a matter of degree concluding with relevance.

        In this case, the issues are quite close: what one person does affects other people.

        Dramatically with car accidents, perhaps less dramatically with slander and the like.

        but connected nonetheless.

        1. How are two issues the same?
        2. How are two issues different?
        3. Weigh, sort, evaluate — decide.

        Same with every other two things you can think of.

      • Gwad his own self says:

        Sadly I gotta side with Charlie on this one. We value freedom of speech in this country even more than we love our guns (and we do love us some guns) but we’re essentially alone in the world in this respect.

        Nanny nanny boo boo stick your head in doo doo.

        Probably a felony in Gabon.

        • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

          Yeah, but Charlie is saying the Governments will ultimately step on FREEEEEEEDOM of speech for while I agree Americans love freedom of speech, we have a government bought and paid for by corporate interests and corporate interests love MONEY above all else and its not hatred or fear of free speech that drives them—just the love of money, the Greed for money, the LUST for MONEY.

          Bringing us of course to:

          RICH = CRIMINAL.

          same as it always was.

          • bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist says:

            POLITICIAN = LIAR

            is more evident.

  14. Holdfast says:

    I don’t know where the myth that says “the internet is free from any government control” came from but it has *never* been true.

    The internet receives a ridiculous degree of interference from US conservatives in particular. Does anyone else here remember the fight it took to create the .XXX tld. S**t ignorant politicians fought this tooth and nail. The US treats the whole system as its own. Law abiding companies are taken offline because they affect the Mafias control of gambling. Mastercard is told to not do business online with organisations that are actively defending your freedom of speech.

    This is not specifically the internet though. The US government and its corporate owners regard the whole world as theirs to do with as they want

    • kjb434 says:

      Liberals (or Dems) are just as guilty.

      There people on both sides that are educated and believe the internet should be more open. There idiots on both sides that believe they should fully control.


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