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Will the U.S. Lose Control of the Internet? 553

MattSparkes writes "The first UN-sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting is taking place next week in Athens, which aims to 'contribute to a better understanding of how the internet can be used to its full potential.' It is likely that several countries will object to the US monopoly on Internet governance, as they did at the last meeting, where the US cited fears of a loss of freedom of speech as the reason for retaining power. Other topics to be discussed include online security, access for non-English users and spam."
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Will the U.S. Lose Control of the Internet?

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  • by pathological liar ( 659969 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:06AM (#16657691)
    They blocked the .xxx domain, which is unfortunate, but it was part of a stupid concept to begin with.

    Just imagine what China, Iran, etc. would do with control?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by imbaczek ( 690596 )
      They already have control over their part of the net. It's not that the US has a lot to give up.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        This is true. Each country can do what they want with thier piece of the infastructure. If you don't have it working, don't whine to us. Besides, there is nothing that the UN can do any better than we do already. They have no authority to enforce anything. All they can do is point fingers tell you your bad. They need to go back to food and medicine and stay out of enforcement. They keep trying but no authority.

        If you want your culture destroyed, let the U.N. and French run it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RingDev ( 879105 )
      And what if the US becomes the next China, Iran, etc...

      The point of having a multi-national body of control is to prevent any singular extremist nation from having a totalitarian control over the Internet.

      • Moreover, with the UN, anything will be run^Hwalked by multinational comitees that could not agree on anything. 20 to 10 years ago, it would have been a disaster but now that the net is up and running thanks to the US effort, an entropy-driven status on quo might be the ideal solution.
  • The US started the internet and everyone joined our network. So it's totally understandable if the US retains "control". The only reason I would actually be unhappy with an international commission or department taking control is that it would just mean another level of bureaucracy to cut through whenever you wanted to do something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Epeeist ( 2682 )
      "The US started the internet"

      No, but

      "The US started the Internet"

      is true. Lots of other countries had public internets, not necessarily using IP, at the same time as ARPAnet.
      • "The US started the Internet" is true. Lots of other countries had public internets, not necessarily using IP, at the same time as ARPAnet.
        Capital 'I' Internet versus lowercase 'i' internet. Those other networks were not the Internet. They were abandoned in favor of the Internet.
  • One can hope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) *

    Will the U.S. lose control of the Internet? One can hope.

    I don't know where this insane notion came from that the U.S. is capable of governing the Internet any better than the world community at large. In case you haven't been watching the news, we can barely govern ourselves right now.

    The U.S. has a fine history of coming up with a really nifty idea and developing it to the point that it's useful, and then totally screwing it up to the point that someone else has to come in dominate the market in tha

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't know where this insane notion came from that the U.S. is capable of governing the Internet any better than the world community at large. In case you haven't been watching the news, we can barely govern ourselves right now.

      Sad to say, but look at the alternatives. Having the US run it might not be that bad an idea. The UN? Corruption-wracked, financially bankrupt, incapable of acting when it is most needed. Some other international body? Who, exactly?

      Yes, we suck. But others suck MUCH worse.
    • by PPGMD ( 679725 )
      And who would govern the Internet then?
      The UN: The UN gives every country a say, countries with censorship goals and laws out number the countries that protect almost all forms of speech.
      The EU: Most EU countries have much more censorship then we do.
      Private Corporation: Well thats pretty much how the internet operates right now. With exception of some veto powers the US pretty much leaves the internet alone and lets the companies they contracted run the internet.

      About the only negative aspect you can p

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by midway22 ( 975786 )
      Main point to Counteract this notion of releasing the internet to foreign control.. We paid for it, we built it and we run it. The world is not socialistic. We went out on a limb and spent "our" money (hello texpayers.. your money paid for it) to embetter our country and people; this venture was pay dirt but how many other government projects bombed to get this one. A capatalistic move to invest in our infrastructure then release it for public use in the hopes to improve tech, business etc. Other countries
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't know where this insane notion came from that the U.S. is capable of governing the Internet any better than the world community at large.

      Uhh.....because *we* built it?

      In the manufacturing industries that you cite, those companies didn't start using our products, then demand that we release control of the manufacturing facilities to them--they built their own factories and went head-to-head with us. If they produced chips or cell phones or automobiles or videogames more efficiently than us, then

      • by mungtor ( 306258 )
        In many instances, they simply took existing US inventions and improved them incrementally. Without the initial R&D costs they can afford to undercut the original US manufacturers (except for the auto industry, which was mostly killed by overall laziness and the greed of the UAW). After that they just had to rely on the rampant US consumerism to drive people to the cheapest product in the mareket. US consumers don't care who makes their stuff, as long as they can get more stuff than somebody else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hador_nyc ( 903322 )

      Will the U.S. lose control of the Internet? One can hope.

      Just a question, and I don't want to start a flame war, but can you please list out what the US is doing wrong with regards to the internet? I'm not trying to egg you on, nor piss you off. I simply am not aware of what my government is doing wrong here, and I'd like to know. Granted, after you list your facts, I'll look into this to verify what you say, but I'd like a starting point.

      It's clear that you don't like the President, and that's fine

  • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:07AM (#16657717) Journal
    Online security, access for non-English users and spam? Yeah, right. Other topics to be discussed include spying on the US, countering United Nations efforts, hacking for military secrets, laundering money, limiting access to information (such as news, especially from the West), and whitewashing history ("June 4th Incident, 1989? Never heard of it!".)
  • We're losing control of EVERYTHING. We just don't know it yet.
  • Soft power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:16AM (#16657889)
    This kind of issue highlights the importance of "soft power". For those of you who have never heard the phase, it basically means the power you get from people trusting you, and from having moral authority.

    As you might have guessed, it is out of favour with the current administration, who prefer military "hard power". Previously, the USA could have said to the rest of the world "trust us to manage the Internet" and much of the world would have gone "ummm, ok!". Now the USA has lost much of its soft power, it makes it much harder, and "hard power" doesn't work well in this kind of situation!
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 )
    The UN which allows human rights abuses of the highest order to be involved in its human rights commission or the US which at least still has the 1st amendment and other rights on paper? Here's a thought for non-Americans who care about freedom of speech. You are probably a real minority. You want more, not less, American governance of the internet. The ideal solution for you would be total governance of the Internet by American jurisprudence. We have significantly higher standards for free speech rights th
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You are forgetting the fact that in the last independant survey about freedom of press (which is in my opinion a form of speech) the USA rated amongst several totalitarian 3rd world regimes, not unlike the former Soviet Union. Freedom of speech should not be controlled by a single nation, especially not a nation that can't even let their journalists say what they want and has a legal system that fines organisations like spamhouse for listing an IP address. It's spamhouse's freedom of speech to list that IP
    • by KiahZero ( 610862 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:43AM (#16658381)
      No court in America is going to allow Bush to hold you as an enemy combatant for suing him over Internet policy.

      Not that I think that the Administration would go that far, but I feel it's necessary to point out that without habeas corpus, you can be seized and you have no ability to challenge the ruling; it doesn't matter that no court would ever affirm your arrest, because you'll never be able to get in front of a court.
      • Bzzzt. Another person who didn't read the bill in question. It *specifically* grants the right to appeal one's status as an enemy combatant in the DC Circuit Court of Appleals and then the US Supreme Court.
      • without habeas corpus, you can be seized and you have no ability to challenge the ruling; it doesn't matter that no court would ever affirm your arrest
        I'm not even sure what I'm doing responding to this.

        Sure "habeas corpus" is Latin for "You may have the body"... but in Legal jargon it refers to a "body of evidence" not an actual body or person.
    • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:54AM (#16658543)

      We have significantly higher standards for free speech rights than the rest of the world

      Have you seen the news today? Journalists fall victim to ethnic and sectarian violence, US troops carry out more unlawful arrests []. Oh, and you've dropped even further down the Press Freedom Index []. Far from "higher standards than the rest of the world"; there are over fifty countries with freer speech than the USA.

    • At least up to now, even if the UN is corrupt, they do not ship people in other country for torture, do not hold them indefinitly without judgement, do not invad any other country. Face it, the UN is corrupt, but the UN is a bunch of nation together. more often than not, it change nothing and leave everything in status quo. OTOH the US is a single nation, and as we saw in the last 12 years, can turn to less democreatic and less freedom. And we might not even have seen the bottom. True US is way better than
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by keyne9 ( 567528 )
      I can't tell if you're serious, or joking. But just in case, I hate to break it to you, but we're (the USA) in the middle of (still) committing human rights abuses. Our "freedom of speech" is being dismantled, and our government is dangerously close to the very things it claims to be fighting against. Until we shape up and return to our roots (you know, that "damned piece of paper"), we aren't fit for determining jack shit about something like this.

      Proper global oversight can and should be the norm for
    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Well, you have them on paper, right. I am not sure I want more gouvernance from the "country" that dismissed the .xxx TLD over blatantly political reasons, that has implemented the DMCA, forbidden online gambling, etc...

      Anyway, the "governance" of Internet is not in the hand of the US governement, it is a diluted entity. Some see the ICANN as what is the closest to an Internet administration but this is clearly an exageration. If a board is to be given powers over Internet infrastructure, it simply CAN N
    • >No court in America is going to allow Bush to hold you as an enemy combatant for suing him over Internet policy.

      The whole point of the Military Commissions act was to deny access to courts. Even before that, Jose Padilla wasn't allowed to see a lawyer until a lot of pressure built up.

      >those of you who want to bring up the MCA or other Bushisms, STFU. That has no relevance here.

      I will not be told to shut up, and they're entirely relevant when someone claims "when a foreigner comes to America, they eve
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wrook ( 134116 )
      And this is what is wrong with the US:

      "Put us in charge of your freedom because we know what's in your best interest".

      No thanks. I'd rather actually have a *say* in the matter. At least with the UN, my country gets a voice. With the US I get what the US thinks is best for me.

  • Regulations... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:18AM (#16657919) Homepage
    Wonderful, here come the regulations... The thing about the internet is that it isn't broken, but since the US currently kinda runs things foreign politicians must "do something to fix it" in order to appease their constituents.

    access for non-English

    Read: Requirements for language translations on web-sites.

    online security

    Lets have people register to run a web-site! That way we can track things better and "protect" children! And no more defending the Nazis if you want to after the French and Germans get into this.


    No more sending email unless it's through state-approved servers.

    Yeah, this is gonna be great... We're from the government, and we're here to help!

    • Access for non-English actually means something entirely different from what you think. Right now DNS names are restricted to ASCII characters. If you live in China, Japan, Russia, or any of a number of other places, you can't use your own alphabet to get to a website. Even if the entire site is in your native language, you still have to use English to get there.

      There's something called IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) that is an effort to change that by allowing DNS to use Unicode characters. That
    • by Tom ( 822 )
      Wonderful, here come the regulations... The thing about the internet is that it isn't broken, but since the US currently kinda runs things foreign politicians must "do something to fix it" in order to appease their constituents.

      Cue music for the US apologists who seriously believe that the US is the only country able to get things right - even though for the past 6 years or so there is precious little they didn't get wrong.

      Access for non-english speaking people can be as simple as Unicode-support in DNS.
  • by giorgiofr ( 887762 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:27AM (#16658101)
    I can envision the comments already. Rednecks spouting their crap while moronic hippies spew their BS, both of them thinking they're somehow "right".
    You know what, if a country wants to do as they please with their part of the internet, all they have to do is update a couple of DNS servers. As simple as that. In fact, I'm already looking into using an alternative DNS root.
    NO debating is needed. NO decision needs to be taken. All those who want a non-USA-regulated net have to do is START using the internet the way they like, simply disregarding USA rules. And, well, be ready to be cut off from any USA network, if the USA were so inclined. What's that you say, your citizens won't like it? Tough luck buddy, that's the price of freedom. It goes both ways.
    On a side note, maybe it's time we did away with non-national TLDs. But that can only be done when people stop treating .com as a first choice and everything else as sub-standard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by deepestblue ( 206649 )
      While what you say is all fine and dandy, it's still a net loss for the entire connected world if there are multiple DNS islands. Maybe those commenting are trying to prevent that?
  • I for one hope the US and its Ministry of Truth [] keeps control. I'd hate to see obsolete information or the lies of the enemies propogated throughout the news sites I frequent. /sarcasm
  • What is there in the Internet to govern anyway?

    If the sole issue is "what name points at what IP address in the most common DNS system" then who cares?

    It's only when you get out of the technical realm and into the craziness of taxes, "legal" versus "illegal" sequences of numbers to send across the lines, and similar oddities, does a question of "governance" even come into the picture.

    My take is: just have a central body for managing the DNS namespace (which is not "hardware enforced" anyway) and that's i

    • Each nation already controls their own domains, nobody's stopping them from setting up their own root DNS servers, nobody's complaining about centralized assignment of MAC addresses, so what the heck is the problem?

      If the Internet split into two or more parts that would be a "good thing" - competition is the source of all evolution.
  • the US doesn't *own* the "internet", we are just using mirrors of their DNS servers and we can very well stop doing so in a day or two.
  • For all of its recent political evils, the US has done surprisingly little meddling with the internet. The standards are still based on non-governmental organizations, there is no effective taxation, anonymity is still possible, etc etc. The internet of today doesn't appear to be run significantly differently than the internet of 10 years ago.

    What possible motivation could there be for other governments to want to seize "control" away from the current scheme?

    Because they're not happy with the above.

    So one
  • slipping in human rights, becoming totalitarian... whatever.

    NO other country in the world has a more absolute view on Freedom of Speech. Not France, not Germany, not even the UK. Reasonable people may disagree on whether that's the right position for a society. But for he who controls the domain registry, it most certainly is the best position to take.

    And what is the alternative anyway? The UN votes on which domains get to stay online? We have countries take turns with holding the "Presidency of the In
  • The UN? HA! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Explodo ( 743412 )
    As corrupt and stupid as US politicians are, they're bush-league amateurs compared to UN diplomats. The UN is the single most corrupt organization on the planet, and I have no intention of ever letting them have control of anything without putting up the most resistance that I possibly can. I have no love for US politics, but I detest world politics. Can you imagine the security council having say over censorship on the internet?
  • Come up with a constitution governing it, and a way of amending that constitution (but a fairly long and involved process so it's not amended willy-nilly). Have a legislative branch and a judicial branch. You can even have an internet "security council" with veto power over proposed changes. Then have every nation that wants in on the governance sign the constitution.

    You can include things like freedom of expression and spam control, just spell it out in the document. Then the U.S. can relinquish control of
  • Uh what was the problem they are trying to solve again?

    The US has control over the parts of the Internet that's within the USA. And that's fair enough.

    Other than that, it doesn't really have control nor should it ( with the exception of political and military "influence" of course, and the fact that much of the popular sites are in the USA).

    Same for the rest of the countries.

    If the countries really don't like it they form groups and set up their own root name servers and tell ICANN to get lost. Same for the
  • Large group of other countries : Hey US, We want you to give us control over the internet because we want to know you don't have control over the internet, even though you kinda created it...

    US-Govt : Hold on.. let me check here.. oh yeah... go DAIF.

    Large group of other countries : But But But... Freedom of the internet.. we should have as much control as you do!

    US-Govt : Then go make your own.. and oh yeah.. DIAF.

    Geez, one thing the US has done reasonably right and the international community wants to kick
  • The US, complaining about the loss of freedom of speech...really? Anyone else sense the irony there?
  • I can clearly see both sides of this debate, as a US citizen I say we shouldn't give an inch (go with the devil you know as they say). But, I can also see that if I weren't a US citizen I would want more global control, and to that I say "we made it, neener neener neener!"
  • As much as I distrust the current administration, I think it's probably best for everyone if the U.S. keeps control of the internet, and this is why:

    A Dutch forum-friend of mine once remarked that if the principles of The Enlightenment are Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, that the United States puts the weight on Liberty while Europe puts more weight on Equality. (No one, he says, seems to care about Fraternity.)

    The United States reveres the freedom of speech much more than European countries, who ten

  • The internet is out of control already. The question of who assigns domain names is not really relevant. The USA will control routing within its sphere of influence, including Space. Time Warner, Sprint, MCI, etc. will still own their infrastructure, and they will lease capacity for a profit, regardless of who claims to be in charge. If there is a demand for a service, it will be provided. The decisions regarding rights, privileges and penalties will be decided on legal structures of International Law, poss
  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:31PM (#16659251)
    The UN, if given control, will probably have an Internet governing council. This council, aside from running the technical aspects of the Internet with the UN's usual bureaucratic incompetence, will be comprised of a rotating set of members. It is these members that will be responsible for policies, such as freedom of speech.

    The UN Commission on Human Rights counted among its members Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia. After much criticism over the membership of such countries where mass violation of human rights is policy, it was replaced with the Human Rights Council, which includes in its membership -- you guessed it -- Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia.

    The UN apparently believes in using the fox to guard the hen house. Does anybody really want Cuba and China to have a say in our freedom of speech?
  • by cyberworm ( 710231 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {mrowrebyc}> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @12:48PM (#16659607) Homepage
    Well in response to to someone's post about what makes the US more capable than another country to be "in charge" of the internet, my response would be "experience and ownership."

    Exactly what is the problem that needs to be solved here? Maybe I should expand the number of sites I visit on a daily basis, but I don't think I've ever been blocked from visiting anything that I wanted to look at. Hell, I don't think I've ever even been blocked from things I DIDN'T want to look at. I fail to see why the current management needs to be ousted or even given this much bullshit in it's general course of business.

    I'd like to know where this would lead? I'm assuming that it's really the commercial aspect of the internet they are after control over. Perhaps a UN mandated internet tax of some sort, or even better, an online commerce tax mandated by the UN. Certainly we can't say that the Academic aspects of the internet are wholly owned by the US Government, as it's (unless i'm mistaken) pretty much a multi-naitonal group of researcheres and universities sharing information, who could just go ahead and build their own network anyways.

    At best, this is just another attempt by a useless neutered organization to grab at power (and money/tax revenue) it dosn't have. At worst, it's a consortium of poorer and/or angry countries picking on the US for all that we have. It kinda makes me think of those arguments where people say "The United States has xx% of the resources but only has x% of the population," and then proceed to ramble about how it's not fair, and we owe it to the world to be their resource providers for free.

    Get real. Build your own network or shut up and be thankful we let you be a part of ours.
  • Russia, and other similarly "free" regimes... Be careful, what you wish for, Illiberals.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court