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The Internet

UN Wants To Regulate Internet 735

LegendOfLink writes "News.com has good interview with the UN's ITU Director, Houlin Zhao, and his desire to regulate the internet. He says "One of the most important changes was the early stages, when the Internet started, when ICANN started in 1998. The purpose was to exclude governments (but that didn't work). People realize today that the governments worldwide have to play a role. People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service? If there are any Internet governance structure changes in the future, I think government rules will be more important and more respected." "
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UN Wants To Regulate Internet

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:36PM (#12077559)
    "Countering spam is just one of many elements of protecting the Internet that include availability during emergencies and supporting public safety and law enforcement officials," Zhao wrote in December.

    I'm sorry but the Internet shouldn't be limited in speech and this is exactly what could happen if some "governing body" takes over enforcement of Spam laws. Yeah, it would start as Spam but it would quickly move to other communications that aren't as negatively viewed by the public.

    I am sticking to the belief that spam is something that should be handled by local groups not government authorities. We just had a discussion yesterday about people not contributing to their governments and instead expect their governments to do everything for them. Well, this is an unnecessary waste of time/money/energy that can be avoided if people take steps to protect themselves and their email.

    The slippery slope starts like this remember.

    One of the most important changes was the early stages, when the Internet started, when ICANN started in 1998. The purpose was to exclude governments (but that didn't work). People realize today that the governments worldwide have to play a role.

    Who realizes that? I surely don't. China is taking a "role" governing their Internet connection to the world and what does it do? It attempts to limit the freedom of information because it knows that it is a possible negative influence on the longevity of its governmental system. I certainly don't want some other body telling me what I can and cannot see because it may negatively influence my views on it.

    People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service? If there are any Internet governance structure changes in the future, I think government rules will be more important and more respected.

    And when there is direct government control how do you get it? Through the filters that are put in place. The Internet is the one place where you can still dig through millions of different opinions to form your own rather than being fed the same stale bullshit that your government wants you to hear.

    Do not fall for their promises of freedom from spam. It will do nothing but erode further the real freedoms that the Internet has created for the global community.
    • Stick with censoring your own country's access to information but keep your damn hands off of mine. I can just see the next UN scandal. Porn for food program.
    • I'm sorry but the Internet shouldn't be limited in speech and this is exactly what could happen if some "governing body" takes over enforcement of Spam laws. Yeah, it would start as Spam but it would quickly move to other communications that aren't as negatively viewed by the public.
      WHOAAA!!! spam is not a matter of frea speach, but a matter of THEFT OF SERVICES AND RESSOURCES.

      Most spam is illegally sent through breached and trojaned computers.

      In short, spamming regulation and penalties are nothing more than enforcement of existing property laws. It has nothing to do whatsoever with censorship nor frea speach.

      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:50PM (#12077785)
        WHOAAA!!! spam is not a matter of frea speach, but a matter of THEFT OF SERVICES AND RESSOURCES.

        I never claimed it was. I claimed that if we start limiting communications over the Internet with stuff that is currently viewed as "negative" then it could grow to include communications that move freely now that aren't "negative".
        • I never claimed it was. I claimed that if we start limiting communications over the Internet with stuff that is currently viewed as "negative" then it could grow to include communications that move freely now that aren't "negative".

          Whose definition of negative do you use?

          Not that I'd wish to commit an ad-hominem, but look at the resume of this goon: former Chinese government official. I suspect I can make a fair guess [cough] Tianaman [/cough] what his version of 'negative' means.

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:58PM (#12079981) Homepage Journal

            Hear, hear.

            The 'net needs to develop reasonable defense mechanisms against inappropriately pushed content (e.g. spam) through protocols designed to ensure culpability (thus making spam difficult), and through blackhole routing and/or packet spamming those who continue to abuse the 'net after such mechanisms are in place. (There is minimal risk of significantly hurting any innocent third parties if culpability can be established at the protocol level.)

            As far as spam is concerned, IBM [slashdot.org] apparently agrees with me [slashdot.org], albeit only in principle, not in design. As I said, "Let their routers burn."

            For "pull" content, by contrast, sufficiently anonymous mechanisms of pulling content should be developed to limit culpability to prevent abuses by the bullies (regardless of whether they are individuals, governments, corporations, whatever...).

            The key here is that protocols should be designed in such a way that you are never prevented from going out and getting things that you want to see, but no one is allowed to push anything at you that you don't want to see. In principle, this isn't a hard design pattern to follow. In practice, it sometimes is, but it is still a worthy goal.

      • by krgallagher ( 743575 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:02PM (#12077962) Homepage
        In short, spamming regulation and penalties are nothing more than enforcement of existing property laws.

        So why do we have to pass new laws. Why not just enforce the existing laws?

        • by Oliver Wendell Jones ( 158103 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:13PM (#12078122)
          So why do we have to pass new laws. Why not just enforce the existing laws?

          First rule of politics - Noone ever gets re-elected for enforcing existing laws. Always make a new law that better "meets the needs" of your political contributors so they'll continue to contribute.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:20PM (#12078203)
          In short, spamming regulation and penalties are nothing more than enforcement of existing property laws.

          So why do we have to pass new laws. Why not just enforce the existing laws?


          Because, to protect the rights of individuals, laws are written in a very specific and situational fashion. This means that whenever you run into a new application or some situation that looks novel, the courts and legislature have to decide whether or not the existing laws apply.

          So, while intuition says that the class of actions which we categorize as theft of services, trespass, etc. should apply to spam and other such things, the laws actually do not address that particular usage.

          Specifically, the reason Spam was legal originally was the implicit permission you grant, as a condition of having an internet mail address, for mail to be delivered to that address. Since there is no way for the transport mechanism to know whether the mail is from someone you want to hear from (it's not psychic) it must accept anything. Spammers, once they had a working address, had permission to send to it.
          The laws were changed to make this illegal - unsolicited commercial email, fraud, and malware of all sorts were criminalized.

          But they had to be changed, because the previous laws really did not apply directly.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @03:04PM (#12078866) Homepage Journal
          Not only that but the UN can not pass laws!
          Or enforce laws or pretty much anything else but generate a huge pile of red tape. Um thanks but no thanks. If anyone thinks this will help protect freedom of anything remember that China has veto power. On the bright side so does the US and UK.
      • by netruner ( 588721 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:09PM (#12078059)
        WHOAAA!!! spam is not a matter of frea speach, but a matter of THEFT OF SERVICES AND RESSOURCES.

        I perfer the term "computer hijacking" (kinda gives it the "terrorist" flavor), and spam is only one of the things it is used for. Also, spam does not exclusively use this method. Therefore, spam is not a matter of theft/hijacking unless that particular method is the one being used for the given offense. Spam is a matter of harrassment.

        IMNSHO, it is the arrogance of lawyers that leads to the assumption that more laws will solve the problem. Better filters, better security and responsible users are the only way the problem will be resolved.
    • by cmburns69 ( 169686 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:50PM (#12077787) Homepage Journal
      The Internet is the one place where you can still dig through millions of different opinions to form your own rather than being fed the same stale bullshit that your government wants you to hear.

      But finding un-biased opinions is becoming increasingly difficult. While it is true that this information is available on the internet, most people stick to the sites they know and are comfortable with. Generally, that means that people visit sites that further confirm their existing opinions.

      I won't fall for the promises of freedom from spam.

      I also won't fall for the promises of reliable, un-biased information either.
      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:53PM (#12077822)
        But finding un-biased opinions is becoming increasingly difficult. While it is true that this information is available on the internet, most people stick to the sites they know and are comfortable with. Generally, that means that people visit sites that further confirm their existing opinions.

        That's the burden of the individuals. At least the information is out there and available to research. By allowing a consolidated governmental body we will know that the information will also be governed and worthless.
    • by nihaopaul ( 782885 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:55PM (#12077864) Homepage
      i am in china, i can visit most sites just not all, access speeds have slowed to a crawl, china telecom blames an increase in users, i doubt that, a drop from 30kbs on a single socket down to 1-2kbs, seems a bit ridiculas in just one year, hey i've still got next year to look forward to!

      but its not just china, look at france and germany working with google to *help the end user* get the right search results. (previous slashdot artical)

      my 2 jiao
    • by a16 ( 783096 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:19PM (#12078188)
      I really think the majority of replies to this thread have a very limited understanding of the current situation - we're seeing a classic example of what happens when you post the a story involving the 'UN' and 'China' to a mostly-American site.

      I'll put this simply. I'm connected through a UK ISP, using UK bandwidth and networks, using UK owned equipment, and connected other than slashdot to mostly european sites/servers. All of this is being governed and controlled by a private registered company in the USA, and they have the power to make policy changes that affect my current happy arangement, without any kind of monitoring or regulation.

      Do you honestly feel that your information, and the Internet, is safer in the hands of a private unregulated "not for profit" US registered company that is given it's power by the US government and gives most (if not all) of it's contracts for vital services to US for-profit companies?

      Put aside your opinions on the UN and how they don't agree with everything the US says for a minute and realise that in an ideal world, an international democractic UN backed organisation to control the future of an international network is the way things should be. The UN is the best chance we have of this happening. Now I'll be the first to admit the UN aren't perfect, however run correctly (ie. by a team of technical-background individuals from multiple nations, who answer to the UN as a whole) this would be the best way to manage the worldwide Internet as we know it today. This would be infinitely better than the current US private company having full control over the world's Internet experience.

      Of course, all of this is wasted, having browsed through the comments so far it it seems people are posting before thinking after seeing 'UN' on their lovely US site. And this is exactly why the situation will never change - after all, can you really see the US giving control of the web to an international organsiation? It's simply not going to happen, and nobody has the power to make them.
      • Oi, let's start at the get go. The Internet is not an internationaly owned network. It is not created by a team of international people working for the UN. It is a US military invention designed to allow research facilities to communicate and the US gov and military to have a nuclear war surviving communications system. The US just happens to be kind enough to let the rest of the world use their network they invented and own.

        You might be thinking of the WWW invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 [w3.org] over at CERN

        • Forgot to credit the Aussie military that was right there alongside the US military for the Boxing day disaster relief.
        • by redhog ( 15207 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:38PM (#12080853) Homepage
          The Internet is a bounch of protocols - all owned by everyone and governed by different bodies (mainly the RF Editor), and a set of cables. The protocols, or rather, their ancestors, where invented by US military.

          However, the cables are mainly owned by a multitude of private, and for the largest part, non-us, companies.

          I don't say that a UN governed Internet would be a good thing, but you are terribly wrong if you think the Internet is a US-owned thingy - the US could go blackout today, and there would still be an immense network left.

          No part of that immense network is a gift given to us by the US, it is something we others build ourselves, you only supplied us with the protocol specs. And nowdays, most of the specs in use, are written by people all over the planet (of course including the US), as is the software implementing them.
        • I think it's a bit one sided to say the US Military invented the net. The US have done well in technical innovations over the last century, and they were home to quite a few important milestones on the road to the net. But the net is more than al gore, and more the the USA.

          The UN may be somewhat corrupt and inneffient but they are safer like that.

          In some ways I would prefer ultra powerful organisations to be corrupt and innefficent. While they are busy being corrupt and inefficient they are not regieme
    • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:24PM (#12078268) Journal
      Do not fall for their promises of freedom from spam. It will do nothing but erode further the real freedoms that the Internet has created for the global community.

      But if China was running the Internet, we really COULD get spammers taken out and shot.

      Decisions, decisions...

  • Control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by panxerox ( 575545 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:36PM (#12077574)
    If there are any Internet governance structure changes in the future, I think government rules will be more important and more respected." Um no.. as all governments inevitably trend toward maximum control and subjugation of their citizens, it is every citizens right and duty to oppose information control as information control is the method by which populations loose their freedom.
  • Great!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbrewthx ( 693182 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:37PM (#12077577)
    The internet brought to you by the folks who brought you Oil for Food!!!
    • Re:Great!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pNutz ( 45478 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:17PM (#12078160)
      Yeah like I'd trust those fuckers!
      Bringing us crap like UNICEF, human rights committees, peace treaties between and within warring nations, war crimes tribunals, socioeconomic assistance to underdeveloped nations, women's rights advocacy, and other such horrors! Corruption!! Secularism!! Un-american, because they represent the entire rest of the world instead of just us!!

      Appalling, t'is, though I still wouldn't trust them to regulate information in any way.
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:37PM (#12077580) Homepage Journal
    Zhao, a former government official in China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, has been in his current job since 1999


    I trust this guy about as far as I can throw a Chevy Suburban.

  • Hey why not! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:37PM (#12077582)
    They have an impeccable record of getting things right. Look at Dafur, Rwanda, Sudan, Food for Oil. Lets hand it over!
    • Or worse, let's say a member gets to be too influential and then its recommendations get implemented throughout the world. If you put in place a mechanism by which a government can apply pressure to other governments then it will most certainly happen.
    • Not insightful, short-sighted.

      Of course the UN should stay out of Internet business but they should stay in the saving the world business.

      Without a body like the UN to delay movements the world would be a much scarier place for you Americans too...
      • Re:Hey why not! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CSMastermind ( 847625 ) <freight_train10@hotmail.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:48PM (#12077752)
        Yes the world would be scarier but the UN today is as corrupt if not more so than most governments. The UN repersents at best a forum for international discussion. The reason nations can make policy (as much as I hate to say it) is because they have an army to back that policy up. Viewing the UN as a body in itself is a basic mistake because with no real way to enforce any policy it creates it is simply a way for nations to peacefully communicate.
    • Re:Hey why not! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ducon Lajoie ( 30475 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:13PM (#12078131)
      Hey... Your phone line works to call anywhere in the world (think about it for a second). Modems and faxes too. Same for leased data lines. The bird your satellite TV comes from does not talk over its neighbourgh. Deregulation and uniform interconnection rates make you life easier and cheaper. H.264 is pretty neat. Cut them some slack...

      ITu has a fairly good track record at making stuff work behind the scenes. It also has way more engineers in house than diplomats.

      There are many good things to question in this article but UN bashing, ITU bashing or WSIS bashing (for the few who seem to be able to tell the difference), or even China bashing, just wastes electrons.

      All of those who are so prompt to jump at power grabs by private compagnies over their beloved internet should think twice: maybe this level of oversight would reduce such interferences.

  • Oh my god (Score:4, Insightful)

    by That's Unpossible! ( 722232 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:37PM (#12077588)
    There are so many ways this is bad. So it's not a challenge nor even an interesting thought-experiment to write something about why this would be bad.

    Instead, I would like to challenge someone to explain how this could possibly be a good thing.

    P.S. The minute the UN controls the Internet is the minute I start a new network of unregulated computer systems on all the dark fiber.
    • Re:Oh my god (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:41PM (#12077637)
      Instead, I would like to challenge someone to explain how this could possibly be a good thing.

      It could provide a mechanism for shutting down spam relays in China.

      This quote disturbs me though:
      People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?
      If I am not standing on your neck, do I not deserve credit for everything you do?
    • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:39PM (#12078500) Homepage Journal
      Instead, I would like to challenge someone to explain how this could possibly be a good thing.

      The families of trolls will be charged the price of the bullet.
  • It's time (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:37PM (#12077594)
    It's time to create the outernet.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:38PM (#12077599)
    People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?

    This makes no sense. Is the submitter saying that somehow, UN mandates or regulation regarding internet access will guarantee internet access in nations whose governments oppose it?

    The UN has no autonomous authority, save for what it is granted by member nations.

    If anything, the Iraq situation should have taught us that the UN's edicts are meaningless. There were binding security council resolutions not only allowing, but compelling, member nations to act to force Iraq into compliance, and scores of instances of verified, documented, UN-acknowledged material breach of its binding resolutions on the part of Iraq. And still, there was no meaningful action. Some UN member nations ended up having to act on their own. To say nothing of the massive corruption in the UN's management of the Oil for Food Programme that is *still* coming to light.

    UN regulation of the internet (save for standards bodies such as the ITU) is the worst think you could possibly wish for if unfettered access to information via the internet is your ultimate goal.
    • If anything, the Iraq situation should have taught us that the UN's edicts are meaningless.

      I'm afraid it's the current USA administration that is making international law meaningless, not the UN.
  • All the US Bashers that abound on Slashdot (An American Site nonetheless) can pretty much eat their words when it comes to the internet, oh theyll say it wasnt the US blah Blah, ok whatever

    How is the UN going to "Take" Control ?

    I say if its in superceedence of US interests, shut them down, shut off any of their access to critical parts, let them manage their part of the world and whoever wants to follow,

    All in jest of course, but its idiot Politicians who think they are doing a "Public" service that ge
  • I, for one, welcome our new UN Regulatory overlords...
  • by deanj ( 519759 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:39PM (#12077611)
    If the UN were actually run well, as opposed to the debacle it is now, they might have a leg to stand on. They should clean up their own act first before trying to grab more power for themselves.

    And that's completely beside the point anyway; the Internet it doing just fine without them now, thank you.
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:40PM (#12077617) Homepage Journal
    everybody [google.com].

    But I think we should let the internet decide.

    1) the U.N.

    2) Ralph Nader

    3) China

    4) Cowboy Neal

    I'm going to sit this one out.
  • by nekoniku ( 183821 )
    [...] Zhao, a former government official in China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications [...]

    Oh yes, exactly whom I want to manage the Internet. [/sarcasm]
  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <rodrigogirao@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:42PM (#12077643) Homepage
    "The U.N. is a place where governments opposed to free speech demand to be heard!"
  • by amembleton ( 411990 ) <aembletonNO@SPAMbigfoot.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:42PM (#12077648) Homepage
    Government control could be risky. For example China might be able to manipulate the internet so that they have greater controls on their citizens right to free speech and maybe of other citizens such as those of Taiwan.

    As the EU grows, some countries such as Germany might push through an agenda of regulating against the discussion of Nazi ideals. This is bad for free speach.

    If these things do happen, a second internet might spring up. After all it would only take a few ppl to connect to each other with modems to bypass any new regualtions. The second internet could be largely based on a P2P system and avoid ISPs, and thus government control.

    I'm rambling on again :(
  • The internet is a world of it's own. It is directly connected to the real world via servers and users, but it's aworldof it's own. The real world does not apply to it and people need to remember this.

    If people want to do illegal stuff they will do it no matter what you do to try and stop them. Would people please stop thinking they can regulate the internet and cure all it's problems. They can't do it in real life so they sure as hell can't do it online.
  • One problem (Score:2, Interesting)

    by springbox ( 853816 )
    The only thing I don't like about this idea is that anyone managing a technical project like this needs to have established technical skills and knowledge. Most politicans in governments seem to have demonstrated that they largely lack this skill. ICANN is a good regulatory body because the people there are technically qualified to work with this stuff.

    If governments step in to regulate the internet instead of some organization like ICANN, then it's possible that we will see a lot of controversial decisio

  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:43PM (#12077660)
    Apparently the League of Nations was also interested in keeping the Soviet Union out of Finland...

    The UN performs some roles well - it brings attention to the plight of some disadvantaged peoples and organizes aid when members feel it is convenient...but as an enforcement agency it is completely toothless.

  • Whooopeeee (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:43PM (#12077661) Homepage Journal
    In other words: the Internet is dead, people. First ICANN, then this. Prepare for an Internet that will be increasingly segmented by the cultural, religious and political preferences of each and every dictatorship in the world.

    Islamic country? No sex and no equality for women, please.

    Dictatorship? No free expression of anything, please.

    Corporate state? No piracy and peer-to-peer, please.

    Of course, it won't work, because technology will increasingly make it possible to go around the censorship, but, please, don't tell them that. They have to keep their illusions.

    As a matter of fact, even countries like Iran find it hard to control things like satellite television. Wait until they discover satellite Internet providers.

    Maybe, in the near future, we will see revolutions because people want to be free... to vote, to express themselves and to surf the Internet. Who knows?
  • "People realize today that the governments worldwide have to play a role. People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?"

    His question didn't ask about opposition, so an answer mentioning it is disingenuous. A government may be indifferent and yet a thing may flourish. Indeed, many things can be obtained that a government opposes. For ex

  • by d_p ( 63654 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:45PM (#12077700)
    ...I look forward to ignoring UN regulation.
  • A chinese guy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nnnneedles ( 216864 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:45PM (#12077701)
    A chinese communist telling us how the internet should run. That's like having an impotent virgin gay man telling me how to fuck my wife.

    I say we start by censoring this guys mouth, then he can tell us whatever he wants.
  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:46PM (#12077717) Homepage Journal
    Here's my question. How do they intend on "regulating" this internet thing? Do they intend on having an internet police force or something?

    I can see it now. "Open up! It's the internet police! We know you're sending spam in there!!!1!!!!11one!!"

    *sigh*

    Let the conspiracy theories begin.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:47PM (#12077720)
    Once upon a time...
    "Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."

    - UN Commissioner Pravin Lal, Librarian's Preface (Source: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri)

    Meanwhile...

    "One of the most important changes was the early stages, when the Internet started, when ICANN started in 1998. The purpose was to exclude governments (but that didn't work). [ ... ] If there are any Internet governance structure changes in the future, I think government rules will be more important and more respected."

    - United Nations' ITU Director, Houlin Zhao, (source: The Real World)

    ...for values of "work" approaching "fulfil every member state's government's dreams of achieving absolute mastery over its subjects", mind you. But other than that small detail, pretty good. The goal is to to strike a workable balance between control and freedom. I humbly submit:

    It is every citizen's final duty to go into the tanks and become one with all the people.

    - Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, "Ethics for Tomorrow" (Houlin Meier, Alpha Centaureality)

    Ah, much better. See how well compromise works?

  • by Raven15 ( 152175 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:47PM (#12077738)
    "People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?"

    The author moves right from talking about "control" to "opposition", as though any government with laws regarding the net opposes it. Seems like a bit of an argumentative trick to me.
  • I have a better idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:48PM (#12077745)
    Why doesn't the UN go and create it's own internet? Remember the Internet (capatial I) isn't the only internet out there. Another large one is Internet 2, which is a university/research instution only network. The US government also have several internets for different levels and classifications of data.

    So if the UN is so convinced they can do a great job running a net that all the governments in the world, including the dicataorships, will be happy with, go to it. If it really is such a better place, you shouldn't have trouble convincing people to switch. Heck, you can even implement it such that it's not exclusive with the Internet. You can have gateways that allows controlled traffic exchange.

    That sounds like a much better idea to me.

    However having the UN regulate the Internet sounds like a disaster to me. Partly because the UN has a poor record running things, partly because that wasn't the reason for the UN to be (it's a forum for internatonal relations, not an international government) but mostly because different nations and cultures have different ideas of what's ok. What we consider to be ok in the US isn't the same as what's ok in France, or in China or in Iran. Now that's fine. I'd like to think there is more than one way people can live, and that different cultures have a right to different values.

    The problem will be if all these governments get together and start trying to decide what needs to be "regulated" which in this case probably means not allowed. In cases like that, you invariably end up getting the most restrictive thing possible to try and satisfy everyone. China is going to want no speech against their government. France is going to want no pro-Nazi speech. The US is going to want no pornography of individuals under 18, and so on.

    I think a much better method is leave the net alone, let countries, ISPs and individuals regulate it as tehy see fit. If they want to block something, block it. But don't try and force it on the whole world.

    If the UN was just talking about IP and DNS regulations, well I might be open to that, but you read the article, it's clear he sees their role as a whole lot more oversight including content. I see nothing good comming from that.

    If they think they can build a nice, sterile, regulated internet, by all means do. Let those that want get on UNnet. Perhaps it's totally SPAM and virus free its so well regulated, and people find that worth the loss of information and control. But let people and nations make that choice, don't try and for it on an existing infastructure that really is working quite well when you get down to it, despite problems.
  • by MortisUmbra ( 569191 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:49PM (#12077762)
    ....that only the UN could come up with. "People realize today that the governments worldwide have to play a role. People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?" Yeah, you mean like China? They dont mind you having internet access, just dont dare actually use it for anything other than finding out how wonderfull the Chinese government is. I also like the bit: "People realize today that the governments worldwide have to play a role." Really? Who are these people that realize this? Governments? Also the whole idea here is assinine, you dont want gov. involvement, what you REALLY want is for the gov.'s to say they will enforce you rules, and to entwine yourself deeply enough with an entrenched and RELEVANT (thats the key word) institution so that when the inevitable days comes that more people say "wtf is the UN even doing anymore?" you can point and say "we keep the internet safe for your govern....I mean kids." No thanks, keep your outmoded sluggish bureaucracy and my own countries sluggish bureaucracy out of the internet. IF they want to regulate the internet they should damned well be forced to contribute. Don't sit there and say how we can and cannot use the internet and then stay out of infrastructure matters and upgrade issues. It's like "Hey I want to tell you what to do but I don't want to be responsible for actually contributing to this, you build it, you pay for it, i'll say what you can do with it after that." NO THANKS
  • No Government. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nberardi ( 199555 ) * on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:49PM (#12077772) Homepage
    This is all we need for the internet. The guy who ran the great firewall of china, running the internet. Government shouldn't be involved with the first and best example of how open standards flurish growth away from the involvment of government. Plus the UN involved just spells corruption at the highest level, like the oil for food program, I wonder what the internet equivilent of that is?
  • Easy Answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maljin Jolt ( 746064 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:50PM (#12077779) Journal
    I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?

    Replace the government.
  • by Safety Cap ( 253500 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:50PM (#12077795) Homepage Journal

    Winner [googlebattle.com]: "leave the internets alone"

    Loser: "let the UN regulate the internets"

  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @01:53PM (#12077835)
    I see government as a process for
    1. adjudicating disputes between individuals,
    2. defining/forestalling unwanted behavior,
    3. pursuing collective goals that individuals can't (or won't) accomplish.
    At that level the internet needs "a" government for handing spam, blacklists, DDoS attacks, malware, phishing, standards creation, infrastructure development, etc. What is less clear is which government.

    The prerequisite for a good government would seem to be: 1) an understanding of the governed system and 2) a confluence of interests that align with the governed system. These prerequisites are the basis for democracy -- who, within limits, better understands the people and is interested (at least self-interested) in the people's welfare, than the people themselves.

    The rationale, heretofore, for rejecting traditional, meatspace governments (e.g., the UN) is that these groups neither understand the internet nor have the internet's interest at heart. Until someone can convince me that these other governments will do a good job, they should remain on the sidelines.

    Yet I doubt that meatspace governments will remain on the sidelines because the internet is becoming too important in the real-world. Thus, I wonder how the internet community can guide the transition from self-regulation to traditional government regulation with an eye toward helping governments understand the internet and internalize the best-interests of the internet.
  • by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:02PM (#12077960)
    ...who've been as effective as the League of Nations at preventing wars and fostering international peace and a sense of global community. These people are as evil as INGSOC and as incompetent as the USPS. Yeah, let's let them regulate the Internet.

    Yet one more reason for nonviolent peaceful non-co-operation being the way to the future on the Internet.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:02PM (#12077964) Journal
    There've been a lot of press releases from groups like the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) about "internet governance" and similar topics, but what they're really doing is using the near-universal dislike for ICANN to accomplish other goals. Typical announcements talk about several things:
    • Replacing ICANN's US-centric control of the DNS TLD space with ITU control. That's not necessarily such a bad thing - ICANN really cares about only one definition of "IP", which is "Intellectual Property", and making sure that US-style IP owners can get what they want. This shows up not only in name dispute processes, but also in the rabidly anti-privacy requirements that ICANN imposes on all registrars for collecting "accurate" whois information, to make sure that any domain name owner can be served with a subpoena. ITU may not be better; the one advantage of ICANN is that it's theoretically possible to throw the bums out, or to have the ccTLD owners get together to ignore them.
    • Subsidizing Internet Connectivity to Africa and other developing regions - Sure, everybody feels bad that poor people can't always get Internet connectivity, and it's good when charities can help. Many of the WSIS types want to imposes taxation on the richer countries' internet infrastructures to subsidize this, which is a bad idea. The right first step is to notice that almost all the countries that have trouble getting internet connectivity have Government-Run Telecom Monopolies, or privatized monopoly providers, which in most cases provide very expensive limited capacity telephones; they not only don't like competition from VOIP, they're not competent at providing Internet access, so subsidizing internet connectivity to them is a waste of money. Typical Internet cafes in much of Africa get service over satellite, which is slow and expensive but doesn't require PTT infrastructure, unlike wired service, and doesn't usually require licensing, unlike microwave service.
    • Censorship - China's the biggest promoter of this definition of "Governance", but there are other countries that also don't like free presses and uncontrolled websites reporting about them, typically implemented as a part of cracking down on other violations of public values such as pornography. The "Great Firewall of China" may not be very good at preventing PCs from becoming infected zombies that send spam and DDOS attacks, but they do retain some control over citizens' access to politically incorrect websites and restrictions on internet cafes.
    • Spam. Everybody hates it, and governments occasionally try to make laws to stop it. They don't work, partly because the Internet is international and it's easy to move activities to other countries, but ITU governance isn't really going to help; the most effective things they could do would be to enforce universal registration requirements even more privacy-invading than ICANN's, so that anybody with a domain name could be located. It would mainly be used for censorship rather than stopping spam; spammers may be stupid, but they're sufficiently clever and persistent to find ways around it, if nothing else using IP addresses in URLs, or hijacking domains owned by legitimate users.
    Overall, it's a bad thing, and a scam.
  • by MrTester ( 860336 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:05PM (#12077988)
    The UN doesnt want to control the internet (at least not according to anything in this piece) The ITU director wants to control the internet. Thats a big difference. Im an officer in the US Army. I want a higher salary. CMDR Taco should now post an article saying "US Army pushing for higher salaries."
  • by tbone1 ( 309237 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:11PM (#12078103) Homepage
    The UN is like government without all the efficiency, accountability, and purpose. I wouldn't trust them with snake control in Ireland. Their competence is proportional to the least corrupt and least competent among them. If they start regulating the internet, OS X will be open to a multitude of viruses, BSD will become insecure, and /. will be a bastion of MicroSoft advocacy! Chaos,! Dogs and cats living together!

  • by Canthros ( 5769 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:14PM (#12078143)
    They can take a great flying leap, as far as I'm concerned. The last thing I need is China and Saudi Arabia given any sort of input on the sort of content I'm able to see.
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:19PM (#12078196)
    Principal Skinner: "Do you kids want to be like the real UN, or do you want to squabble and waste time?"
  • by Delilah Jones ( 852061 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:29PM (#12078337)
    Seriously,

    Won't market forces win out over any government regulation?

    I mean, the market forces react pretty quickly. They have to. Otherwise, people won't make money. And money talks, baby!

    With government regulation, imagine! You think pot-holes on public roads are bad? Freeway construction during rush hour? Lines at the DMV?

    Imagine if this were the case with bad Internet service? "Sorry, Amazon can't list the latest and greatest titles, or provide you with intelligent web browsing (e.g. Welcome, Andrew!), because it has to go through the appropriate government committee first, in order to obtain approval for their updates."

    Crap man, an open and free market really speeds things up, albeit with some unwanted junk like spam and stuff.

    I have one word for government-regulated Internet:

    SLOW-BALLS

  • by ninjagin ( 631183 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:45PM (#12078574)
    I did RTFA, and while I can sympathize with his motives for developing broad international consensus on things like IPv6, address allocation, spam laws, etc., I think that he's off the mark (and a bit too paternalistic) in how he seeks to achieve what he wants.

    IMO, the marketplace shoud determine which standards get adopted and what the most efficient ways are for address allocation. Sure, governments have a role to play. But where we've seen nations restrict the type and content of 'Net access available to their citizenry (China, Iran), we've also seen persons in those countries look for ways to get around or soften the impact of those restrictions.

    He talked about how the ITU is 140 years old, but the ITU was created to plan, build and expand on telegraph lines. We're so far past those challenges, by now. I'd rather see the ITU pay more attention to the planning, expansion and maintenance of stable telephone networks worldwide than mucking about with the 'Net.

    The quote in the synopsis comes from the end of the interview, and it pretty much shows what he's missing. He's missing the fact that the 'Net may have been developed as a civil defense project, but it grew and evolved so quickly precisely because the government didn't try to shape it any more than it had to. His assumption that you have the 'Net precisely because the government wants you to have it (because it's not explicitly denied) is whack doubletalk.

    When I started BBSing 20+ years ago with an acoustically-coupled 300baud modem, the government had no idea what I was doing, and really didn't care, anyway. No government agency told me "Here's this civil defense network that links the county bomb shelters. You can use it to play poker and look at pr0n. Go for it!" Instead, I learned to use it by hanging out with the other kids who liked to play with the telephone and camp out with the teletype after school, sending messages to the other kids at other schools on the Jeffco CDN. It was fun because nobody was watching and there were no rules other than what most kids already learn at home -- "be nice and don't break stuff".

    The UN has many great roles to play in the world, but expanding the territory of the ITU mandate is just dopey. IMHO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:47PM (#12078602)
    I know this is might be strange, but this fellow spent the entirety of his professional life (pre-UN) working for the Chinese government, specifically building communication networks for the Chinese people. Considering his background with one of the most regulated networks in the world I can see how he might believe his own rhetoric. Considering his background, I don't.
  • by Eskimore_ ( 842733 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @02:54PM (#12078696)
    This is not going to be pretty.

    Who's rules do you follow on the Internet? The rules of: The country you're in? or the country who's hosting the site/service you're using?

    What about conflicting copyright laws, criminal laws, and taxes? And who decides?

    How does the physical location of your host affect this? What if you have a web-based retail company in Country[X] but you got a better web hosting package in Country[Y]. Technically the business is done in Country[Y], but the money goes to Country[X]. What taxes do you pay?

    These issues are not going to be easy to figure out.

  • by alarch ( 830794 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2005 @04:35PM (#12080785) Homepage
    Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

    We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

    Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

    You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

    You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

    Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

    We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

    We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

    Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

    Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

    In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

    You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

    In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

    Your increasingly obsolete in

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