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The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom


Internet illustration

Dozens of countries are pushing aggressively for the establishment of international control over the Internet via the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which U.S. Federal Communications Commission commissioner Robert M. McDowell warns will turn the Internet's prosperous multi-stakeholder regime upside down and threaten its freedom and openness.

Among backers' proposals for this regime change is the subjection of cybersecurity and data privacy to international authority, permission for phone companies to charge fees for international Internet traffic, ITU dominance over key functions of multi-stakeholder Internet governance bodies, and the placement of engineering and technical standards-setting entities under intergovernmental control.

"A balkanized Internet would be devastating to global free trade and national sovereignty," McDowell argues. "It would impair Internet growth most severely in the developing world but also globally as technologists are forced to seek bureaucratic permission to innovate and invest."

McDowell says the speed of Internet decision-making is something that no single government, much less an intergovernmental body, can match when it comes to economic and engineering matters. He suggests as an alternative strategy the encouragement of a dialogue among all interested parties to expand the multi-stakeholder model so that agreement to address reasonable concerns can be reached.

From Wall Street Journal 
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