As it currently stands, a series of non-profit United States organizations play host to the Internet‘s technical aspects and especially domain registration, which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN handles. That could potentially change this year. The International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency on telecommunications, is hosting the World Conference on International Telecommunications in December. Some say the conference will push for control of the Internet to pass to the U.N., which the U.S. has said they will resist.
The interesting thing to note is that while these non-profit Internet organizations technically fall under the Department of Commerce, they’ve managed to remain mostly neutral with a decent record when it comes to things like censorship. Other United Nations members, like China, have far worse records and would suddenly have a greater say in regards to the Internet as a whole should this come to pass.
Either way, the conference is looking to review the International Telecommunications Regulations that was last modified in 1988. There are clearly some changes that need to be made as it’s almost been 25 years. Terry Kramer, ambassador for the United States to the conference, is quoted with the following in the fact sheet up on the Department of State’s website that outlines some of the nation’s stance:
The ITRs have served well as a foundation for growth in the international market[.] We want to preserve the flexibility contained in the current ITRs, which has helped create the conditions for rapid evolution of telecommunications technologies and markets around the world […] We will not support any effort to broaden the scope of the ITRs to facilitate any censorship of content or blocking the free flow of information and ideas[.] The United States also believes that the existing multi-stakeholder institutions, incorporating industry and civil society, have functioned effectively and will continue to ensure the health and growth of the Internet and all of its benefits.
Looks like if the U.N. really wants control, as is suspected, then there might be a political scuffle brewing.
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- Google Fiber is still kind of amazing
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