EDITORIAL: Resist efforts to shackle the Web
Dec 22, 2012 (The Kansas City Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Governments with an authoritarian bent have long worried about the Internet's corrosive effect on their power. A borderless, global portal makes it impossible for regimes to filter information accessible to their populations.
At a recent United Nations conference in Dubai, these regimes -- led by China and Russia -- conducted the first strike against the Internet's open architecture. They won approval for measures legitimizing government control of the Web.
The U.S. delegation, along with several Western nations, rightly refused to agree to language that declared, "All governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance."
The conference was organized by the International Telecommunications Union, a relatively obscure agency that in the past has confined itself to regulating global radio spectrum and setting technical standards for telecom links.
But at the Dubai meeting, called to revise the existing 24-year-old treaty, a majority of delegations adopted a measure effectively including the Internet in the deliberations, overcoming U.S. objections.
Supporters of the change, led by Russia, protested that they had no intention of supervising the Web. If so, however, why did they insist that the Internet was not solely a conveyor of content, but a telecom service subject to ITU regulation
The treaty goes into effect in 2015 and does not cover nations refusing to sign. But its upshot is likely to be a steady evolution toward a world divided between the free Web and the politicized and government-controlled Web. Many websites would no longer be global, an extremely unfortunate outcome.
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