The Fate Of The Free Internet Goes Up For Vote In December

    November 30, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

The fate of the free Internet will be decided at a private meeting in Dubai on December 3. UN member nations will argue for or against a plan that would give control of the Internet to the ITU, instead of the current NGO multiple stakeholder approach. Some within the US government have already voiced their opposition, and now the EU is joining them.

Wired UK reports that the European Parliament has issued a resolution against a potential takeover of the Web by the ITU. The resolution contains many of the same arguments that people like Vint Cerf have said about the proposed UN regulation.

Should the UN and its member nations be given absolute authority over the core framework of the Internet? Let us know in the comments.

There’s a lot of good stuff in the EP resolution, and other nations, including the US, would be wise to wied these arguments during negotiations next month:

1. Calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations are compatible with the EU acquis and further the Union’s objective of, and interest in, advancing the internet as a truly public place, where human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and assembly, are respected and the observance of free market principles, net neutrality and entrepreneurship are ensured;

2. Regrets the lack of transparency and inclusiveness surrounding the negotiations for WCIT‑12, given that the outcomes of this meeting could substantially affect the public interest;

3. Believes that the ITU, or any other single, centralised international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over either internet governance or internet traffic flows;

4. Stresses that some of the ITR reform proposals would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations and governance, as well as the free flow of information online;

5. Believes that, as a consequence of some of the proposals presented, the ITU itself could become the ruling power over aspects of the internet, which could end the present bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model; expresses concern that, if adopted, these proposals may seriously affect the development of, and access to, online services for end users, as well as the digital economy as a whole; believes that internet governance and related regulatory issues should continue to be defined at a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder level;

6. Is concerned that the ITU reform proposals include the establishment of new profit mechanisms that could seriously threaten the open and competitive nature of the internet, driving up prices, hampering innovation and limiting access; recalls that the internet should remain free and open;

7. Supports any proposals to maintain the current scope of the ITRs and the current mandate of the ITU; opposes any proposals that would extend the scope to areas such as the internet, including domain name space, IP address allocation, the routing of internet-based traffic and content-related issues;

8. Calls on the Member States to prevent any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations which would be harmful to the openness of the internet, net neutrality, the end-to-end principle, universal service obligations, and the participatory governance entrusted to multiple actors such as governments, supranational institutions, non-governmental organisations, large and small businesses, the technological community and internet users and consumers at large;

9. Calls on the Council to coordinate the negotiation of the revision of the ITRs on behalf of the European Union, on the basis of inclusively gathered input from multiple stakeholders, through a strategy that primarily aims at ensuring and preserving the openness of the internet, and at protecting the rights and freedoms of internet users online;

10. Recalls the importance of safeguarding a robust best-effort internet, fostering innovation and freedom of expression, ensuring competition and avoiding a new digital divide;

11. Stresses that the ITRs should state that the ITU recommendations are non-binding documents which promote best practices

There’s a lot here, but the central fears of an ITU takeover are two-fold. For one, the proposed Internet tax system would greatly affect how companies do business around the world. A leaked document said that some nations are pushing for a global Internet tax. In effect, nations would have the power to tax companies like Google in return for being allowed to operate in those nations. One can already see the potential abuse this system would bring.

The other is far more serious, and one of the reasons why nations like Iran and China are pushing so hard for this. It would allow individual nations to control how the Internet operates in their country even more thus leading to even more censorship. Iran is already developing its own private Internet, but a change to the ITU would make that internationally endorsed.

Do you think nations should have the right to charge an Internet tax to companies like Google? Let us know in the comments.

As you can see, there’s a lot at stake here and many are concerned about the potential impact the ITU meeting will have on the Web. Companies like Google are already beginning protest movements and asking for people to submit their stories on why a free and open Internet is important to them.

Following Google’s lead, Mozilla has also started its own campaign to help organize protests against an ITU takeover of the Internet. The non-profit put forth a compelling reason to reject any potential takeover of the Web:

Whether the Internet is regulated by governmental treaties via the ITU and to what extent, is a vitally critical question. In fact it is so critical it can’t be done behind closed doors. The Internet as we know it today is just too fundamental to our lives to leave it to governments to decide its fate.

Mozilla’s mission is to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web. We do this first and foremost by building great products. But, as any Mozillian knows — the story is much more than the latest release or coolest hack. The Internet depends critically on a human network of communities and relationships, and Mozilla builds movements that strengthen the Web.

ACTA and SOPA were expected to pass with little to no resistance, but the Internet proved those assumptions wrong. The ITU would be wise to heed the voice of the Internet, and not go forward without taking its users into account. If not, it’s only a matter of time before it’s deemed irrelevant alongside everything else that refuses to acknowledge the Internet as a living, breathing entity that can’t be contained.

Are you concerned over a potential ITU takeover of the Web? Are people worried for nothing? Let us know in the comments.

  • Geoff Robbins

    Unfortunately, both the US and EU have undermined their position of taking the moral high ground of independence by seizing a number of domains that they consider to be operating illegally, without any due process.

    On that basis, I cannot really see how the ITU could do any worse.

    • http://gaycontentwriter.com Conran

      It’s already been stated how the ITU would be worse – it allows nations to restrict access based on their own rules, many of which are draconian. Even in the UK the government is pushing for a KGB style monitoring of the entire population, how do we think such things would be managed in China, Iran, Syria, Israel…?

      The current system works, we do not need another body of bureaucrats being paid millions a year to sit at a desk and decide how much freedom the people of the world should have, or how restricted the development of the Internet should be.

      We are already seeing a growing “underground net” because of the meddling and threats made by nations against the freedoms of their own people. Governments need to be stepping away from the only bastion of true freedom the people have, and if they don’t then the situation will just get worse.

      And that’s the core problem here whether it’s a global body or a national one – governments are only doing this to gain control over information and the release of it to the public, just as they already have control of national broadcasters and newspapers.

      For example, most sensible people know the UK’s “Snoopers Charter” will not be used to prevent terrorism or crime (because those perpetrating it know how to use a VPN, encryption, or stay off the net entirely). It will be used to silence dissent, protest and political expression.

      You could ask almost anyone working in IT in the UK about the snoopers charter the government is planning and they all agree – it’s what the KGB did to political opponents, only digital and on a massive scale.

      The KGB had files on hundreds of thousands of people they deemed a threat to their dominance, the UK government will have access to the private information of every single citizen in the country.

      The only difference is that the KGB was limited in its scope due to its access to information, storage and collating ability, the UK government will not be.

  • http://www.teamsoffice.com Martin

    Of course they should not be allowed to. No single organisation should be given such power. That ALWAYS leads to despotism, cronyism and corruption. The internet is the only medium we have left for free speech. Giving control to any one organisation will remove that last bastion.

    Whether the US or Europe is being hypocritical is irrelevant. Whether they have the high ground or not has nothing to do with it. Power over the internet must not under any circumstances be given to any single organisation.

  • Jon

    Of course they should be allowed to tax Google.
    Any US centric readers should make themselves aware of the current parliament hearings in the UK where Google and two other US giants are maintaining a poker face whilst trying to justify high revenues but diminishingly small profits and subsequent low or zero rates of corporate tax on account of highly imaginative taxation practises. If Google does not want to be taxed it should start playing fair with the nations in which it makes its revenue.

    YES TAX GOOGLE !!!! Its the only way we appear to be able to make them pay on a fair playing field with non-international companies that reside in the host nations. If they make a dollar in the UK they should pay a percetage to the UK not some low rate tax haven through elaborate schemes of buying in services from their other international companies (ones in countries with lower taxes) just enough to neatly cancel out their profit.

  • Geoff Robbins

    You appear to be mixing apples and oranges in your rant, Conran., and therefore you’re argument is diluted.

  • http://www.emptycartridges.net Chris

    Seeing how the U.N. reacts to major world crisis, I think that it would be a disaster to see them control the Internet. ICANN might not do everything right but it does a better job than the U.N. ever could.

  • WM McKee

    I think it would be an absolute disaster to let the ITU or any UN agency to take control of the Internet….. It is an ineffectual group, and amounts to a mere debating society. Who would decide the rules and standards that would apply?….. Probably some religious crazies who are out of step with most thinking people.

    • http://www.nleff.com Nancy

      Anytime I hear of the UN taking over anything, I cringe. We have enough regulations already, and we don’t need more entities to muddy the waters. The Internet is just about the last bastion of freedom we have that isn’t regulated and taxed to the hilt. Let’s keep the UN out of places where they do not belong.

  • Richard Robinson

    As the internet is the only free and truly democratic place on the planet where free speech is available to all it must remain free and out of the hands of governments .

  • http://damescribe.hubpages.com/ Gin

    The internet is one of Man’s greatest achievements. It should remain open to allow for the ‘Voices’ that are not heard. The people wish to see Peace but gov’ts are the ones who oppose this action. Gov’ts should not be allowed to control anything outside their borders but stick to their own duties of homelands, not be entering peoples homes and disrupting lives beyond their borders.

  • http://www.meribel-unplugged.co.uk rob smart

    At age 65 Ican honestly say that the free internet is a midblower..

    Do not let any agency..(most controlled by Jews ( I have Jewish ancestryso not predudiced) ..USA..the biggest polluters of our planet in modern times..including our food..our medicines..and so called democracy..(Only the mega rich can become politicians in the usa..) .

    Most of them are failed or incompetent business people..so how can we let them rule our lives anyway..

    Remember at school..the big mouths ..with nothing real inside their brains.. = later politicians..

    Keep the internet free for us..to catch these assholes out when they screw us..

    It is the only way for peace in the world..and maybe a better life..

    People of the world can unite right now…except in China..and some other places restricted …this is a solution that scares the governments so much..They lose control..and it goes back to the people.. fabulous..Fingers crossed we screw all the corrupt governments of the world over the next 20 years..

    • http://www.creepingsharia.com Isahiah62

      Should the UN and its member nations be given absolute authority over the core framework of the Internet?

      THE UN is worse than useless. It is dangerous. The coalitions and groups in it are biased against all free nations and our laws- USA should not give one cent to these criminals and dictators who now RUN it. And no to signing our sovereignty over to a global cabal.
      And no to enforcing blasphemy laws for ISLAM too. No more UN funding of their favorite terror groups- Hamas and Fatah.
      As for taxation of US based corps- or censorship of certain content : we have no control what other nations decide to do- a two way street.

  • George

    The UN should NOT be in charge of ANYTHING! The United States should withdraw from the UN completely (including all support).

    The UN is also trying to take away our right to own guns too.

  • custer

    Unfortunately there are some aspects that are counter-intuitive.
    a) Large multi-nationals try to minimise tax by shifting their tax burdens to the most advantageous nations. These nations are usually struggling to maintain a decent standard of living for their citizens so welcome a few measly permills (thousandths) of large corporations sales. So they never get much but destroy the economies of other nations.
    b)The directors of commercial companies are usually legally required to maximise the worth of their company and its shares whether held by a few directors, the employees or potentially the public at large. So they are not accountable to the public at large normally.
    c)Individual nations need tax revenue to support their infrastructures(roads, justice etc) as well as those citizens in need.
    d) International agencies, eg UN, EC tend to be beaurocratic and stifle fast evolution.
    On balance it seems to me to be best if commerce has freedom but is taxed in order to support the communities it is meant to serve, ie its customers. Thus if those customers are buying via the internet there should be a tax on those transactions in the country where the benefit is gained – ie at the customers’ country of residence. After all, the customers rely on their own neighbours(residents of same country) to employ them and provide their living.
    No man is an island. Neither is any nation metaphorically.

  • Anon

    It’s all bs. Idiots ruling idiots.

  • http://bestproductsforacne.org Duncan

    I believe any measures like these are going to damage the internet. My idea follows the same tactics as used before with SOPA, develop software, and plugins that shut your web pages off for a day of protest. Since this is an international issue, a full international protest would have a far reaching effect.

    It is obvious that these people are attempting to govern the internet as a ploy for their own gains, and not in the interest of the internet society as a whole. Demonstrating as a unified body I believe would send a clear message that such extreme regulations would bring an opposite effect upon the ITU intentions.

  • http://www.netcommercial.net Netcommercial

    Absolute power =’s absolute corruption.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    “Do you think nations should have the right to charge an Internet tax to companies like Google?”
    Key question, currently debated in Europe: many EU countries don’t accept anymore that GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) are using personal data of EU citizens to do their business within Europe without paying the corresponding tax, thanks to fiscal optimizations. That’s why the CEO of Google has met French President for 2 hours: France is claiming 1 billion euro tax to Google.
    My point of view: business online has developed so big that the old territorial tax system has to be adapted at some point, in order to find a fair redistribution between global companies and states.
    Cheers, Mike

  • David Bock

    I feel that the whole thing is not quite as it appears to be. These type of scenarios almost always have an underlying agenda which isn’t made clear to the general public. The one world government will take place whether we like it (don’t know how anybody with any sense would) or not! This whole proposal would really suck if things went through, yet on the other hand, sadly enough, I feel it’s only a matter of time until it would.

  • http://www.glittersoutlet.com Marilyn

    Leave the email system like it is, it does not need any changes.

  • http://sweatshirtstation.com Richard Robbins

    I’m against the UN having more power to do anything. I can’t think of an organization that is fraught with more corruption and less ability to do good. I can’t imagine that giving them power to control the internet would do anything but further their corruption at the expense of free enterprise specifically and freedom in general.

  • stanleyparham

    We want rid of nudity of any kind of sex streight or gay or even animal sexuality. Nudity is an unfair infleuance. Spiritual subjects sould also be unallowed such as encourageing people to have out of the body experiances and spiritual hipnotical affects can destroy normal life and affects every one in a negative way. For example the Coast to Coast programs are a negative affect and teaches to practice dangerous spiritual practices. Its just not fair that these peoples immoral behavior such as Art Bells weightless puter space hotel sex is thrilling and worth the loss of morals. And Larry Aherns of KKOB in ABQ NM has the right to watch porn at the intersection stop light. And then would Alex Jones step in saying that they have the right to do what they want that the constitution supports immoral behavior.

    • cj

      Censorship in any form is a slippery slope to tyranny. Existing defamation laws adequately cover the issues you raise. You cannot legislate morality.

      If you feel the search results from Google are immoral, then use another search engine. If enough people do this then the world will change naturally without the use of force (government).

  • Zack

    Lost business is lost revenue but….Google should go ahead and pull out of any country that even voiced the idea of a tax. Nations who want to impose a tax on companies like Google should be immediately shut off from being able to access Google or any other site or resource until they begin to starve for real internet and decide to behave. Then they should have pay a large penalty to get access back.

  • cj

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    This is a power grab by those in power – pure and simple.

    As for the TAX argument – tax is payment backed by force. By definition it is theft. Google became a multi-billion dollar industry that drives innovation and is an economic pump through VOLUNTARY contracts with it’s customers.

    To hate Google for it’s success, is to hate freedom and prosperity.

    Those who want to tax Google (which is backed by government force) simply want something for nothing.

  • Brian B

    I’m 64 now and 100% disillusioned with the state of this crap, spineless planet. I look forward now to death. The scumbucket politicians, lawyers and other useless non-producing bastards have basically hijacked the world for their own cash benefits. The internet has the ability to stop this expensive bullshit dead…which is why now these assholes are stepping forward before it gets too powerful. They want the ability to pull the plug on any online conversations that propose some social improvements that don’t include parasites.
    We NEED the free interent to unseat these parasites and bottom feeders else we get what our apathy earns us…total loss of freedom.

    We MUST learn to say NO to politicians but can we? YOU cannot because you have permitted the useless and corrupt to take control of our work, play, assets etc. Once digital money arrives (we brought it in by using cards!) then they have us. You will get an auto debit for a driving offense, late tax payment, tunnel fee, road use and so forth. These parasites will be able to take but never deliver. THIS is what we are handing them…full control of US. We the public need to recognise that all we have to say is NO. Nothing else. We do NOT have to pay their ‘fines’. We don’t have to fight or march anywhere. JUST SAY NO and stay home. You can bl;ock or disrupt every imposition they send you. Take everything to court, overburden their mad parasitic systems. I am a peaceful person that closed and auctioned off a 20 year old business when a union asshole told me he was going to have some say in my affairs. I advised him to open his own frigging business, because my answer to demand is automatic opposition. It’s time some of us grew the balls to say NO to these scum. Work in cash and forget bankers, banks, lawyers, poiticians, council workers and the like.
    I BET these bastards get control anyway, because they will use a public soft-spot (say, child porn) and get your permission to block it…and slowly grow that control to enable total control and tax of everything. This fat-arsed australian bitch is probably the worst mother-fucker at the corruption game too…with her bent union scum buddies pillaging the public purse at every opportunity. Still, you get what you deserve, simply by permitting this ‘federalism’ to continue to kill state competition and proper management of local politicians and local interest groups. We desperately NEED to kill off federalism, the EU bandits and all central governments before everything is the same, else freedom of any sort will be gone.

    • Brenda Fishel

      That is horrible and its only to be able to control what the truth is on any thing going on that the goverment doesnt like! God Help the US and these other countrys!

  • http://www.window7slow.info Wilf Staton

    I guess we say if its not broken leave it alone.

    The UN has a history in being pitiful in protecting people in countries where there freedoms are concerned. Not the Soldiers fault who go in there to protect them but because of the rules imposed on them by the UN bureaucrats who wouldn’t know one end of a stick to another.

    But! I do agree with the fact that companies like google should pay their fair share of taxes in the country where the profits are made. But this is only a business thing nothing to do with the internet. Countries already have laws to deal with this as is happening in the UK.

    I think the UN are getting themselves into strife trying to bring on this stuff. All it takes is the countries predominately the users of the internet to boycott it. I am sure Googles revenues would not suffer to much if it ran only in the countries that don’t want it.

    I personally don’t do anything with China, Russia or Japan.

  • Jason

    Is this the same UN that gave Iran a seat on the Human Rights Committee. Yeah that’s probably not a good idea. They just want control so they can censor and tax. I vote an emphatic NO!!

  • http://www.geekzonebooks.com Mike McGinn

    No to internet tax!
    No to UN take over!
    Keep things the way they are now.
    It works.
    Don’t fix what is not broken.

  • http://www.geekzonebooks.com Michael Scott McGinn

    No to taxes. No to UN take over of the core. Keep things like they are. Do not try to fix something that is not broken.

    • Gerald Thompson

      Of course a country should have the right to tax Google/Bing etc to operate in their country. They are benefiting from trading from that economic community so should contribute to the fiscus of that country.

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Nina

    It is will the height of insanity and overbearing for any group or person to sleep and dream of taken over the internet. That will be utterly unbearable. It will be like rationing air. Though the use of internet is not as important as the air we breath, but it has become part of our lives for anybody to ever think of controlling it for whatever reason.

    To control the internet is the end of free speech and the end of modern democracy as we know it. The internet is the best way to mobilize grass root for any course.

    Anybody advocating for the control of the internet must be a power drunken individual who wants to rule and control everybody without being questioned.

    In a nutshell let no one take anybody who is dreaming of controlling the internet serious. The person needs to have his/her mental state examined

  • http://www.kaya-natin-to.blogspot.com whiteglider

    This is a clear fight between democracy and communism in the grandest scale. Freedom over government control.

    • Anthony Gallon

      Succinct and true.

  • Gerald Thompson

    Of course a country should have the right to tax Google/Bing etc to operate in their country. They are benefiting from trading within that economic community so should contribute to the fiscus of that country.

  • Jay

    Not Only NO, But HELL NO!

  • http://www.nphheaters.com James D.

    This notion is ridiculous. Leave things the way they are, otherwise the spirit of capitalism will again be compromised by the rich and powerful for their sole advantage. Competition not only works but also allows poor people and small companies to voice their concerns and hence enjoy freedom of speech and open competitive markets!

  • http://www.cheapwristbands.com Bob

    This would probably put the world in a depression let alone just our country.

  • http://londonmatrimonysite.com London

    There are a lot of things wrong with the internet and I have to say that Google is not one of my favourite companies but, and it’s a huge but, I can only see this proposal as being a recipe for censorship, bias and disaster.

  • http://weevilyworld.wordpress.com/ Jude Howard

    In a word? NO!

  • http://complaintportal.com Terence Carr

    I believe in a good balance and open market freedoms and not a selective power base controlling the likes of the internet. Freedom of expression and business entrepreneurship relies on the an open internet in a million tier deep platform that is itself regulating in some forms when it comes to the internet, however censorship must be limited in form and function, meaning non oppressive and not government run control. Cyber crime has to be detected and reduced but legitimate forms of internet hosted offensive crime or damaging solicitations.
    See my idea http://www.octo-fi.com as a means to post your complaints. Here is an example of freedom of expression and educating media.

    Thank you and regards.

  • http://www.gamesfromeverywhere.com david-gfe-games

    This article – as scary as it is to contemplate, would be easier to handle if Zach would at least smile for the camera when taking a Bio Pic.

  • http://JCArtes.com Arthur Baldwin

    The agenda of the UN is really screwy to say the least. Letting them control the Internet is about the same thing as letting them tell us who our president should be and giving up our right to vote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LaMasiaPublishing Paella

    Some things you don’t need to think about to know that they are bad ideas and this is one of them. Can you imagine the chaos and hand wringing when it all goes wrong?

  • http://pedaleur-oirschot.nl/A/index.asp?fenlei=brand brand

    Exhaustively flippant and unsportsmanlike with the end of life

  • Kay Cald