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Plan Would Give Government Virtual Veto Over Internet Governance

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the changing-things-up dept.

The Internet 65

An anonymous reader writes The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the United Nations. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Now governments are looking for even more power, seeking a near-complete veto power of ICANN decisions.

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65 comments

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So... Sorry, but no (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696745)

That government of yours, which is really you guys over there since you elect or at least choose to not remove it forcefully, has proven to be an ugly piece of shit. It will not get to decide anything about the Internet. Sorry.

Re:So... Sorry, but no (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696789)

I don't know if I want some government who may not like my religion or race being able to stamp my website out of existence just because it doesn't jive with their dogma.

I'll take the current means. There is enough religious persecution without having countries knock you offline on the net.

Re: So... Sorry, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697293)

The solution is easy. Use namecoin.

Re:So... Sorry, but no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696937)

Absolutely agree. Europe can fuck right off. So can the middle east.

That wasn't who you were talking about? Fuck you too.

So... Sorry, but no (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697113)

Whatever the faults of the USA, it really does have about the strongest protections for free speech anywhere. It sure as hell would be better to have governance solely by the USA than by an amalgam of other nations. Just look at the UN where countries like Iran and the Sudan get reps on the UN commission on human rights. UN governance of any aspect of the Internet would surely result in countries like North Korea and China ending up on committees which are empowered to restrict information flow.

Re:So... Sorry, but no (1)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about a month ago | (#47701683)

Really? I wouldn't exactly say USA has a good track record of protecting peoples free speech. Is your phone encrypted when you pass a checkpoint? You go to jail. Is your laptop encrypted when you pass a checkpoint? You go to jail. Have you googled pipe bombs or vacuum cleaners? You go to jail. Have you blown the whistle on your governments criminal activities? You get to be chased halfway across the planet and go to jail if you're caught. If you do anything your government doesn't like you're labelled a terrorist and, you guessed it, you go to jail.

If anything I'd say that the USA is one of the least free countries in the world, ranking alongside places like Niger and Congo. Not to mention it's the only 21st century country where slavery is still permitted. Slavery you say, why Abe did away with that! No he didn't. Just look at your jails. They're full of slaves working for pennies, and if they refuse they go to isolation.

Does it matter? (1, Insightful)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a month ago | (#47696747)

It's not like I can exert influence over either governments or the ICANN in any way, shape or form.

Re:Does it matter? (3, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | about a month ago | (#47696803)

I don't know about you, but I would rather have the USA, despite all of its faults (and we have many), in control of these things instead of countries like Iran or North Korea.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697027)

An American would think that. Citizens from other countries may well disagree there. Especially because of that unthinking American preference for Americans in charge everywhere.

Re:Does it matter? (1, Interesting)

Shoten (260439) | about a month ago | (#47697085)

An American would think that. Citizens from other countries may well disagree there. Especially because of that unthinking American preference for Americans in charge everywhere.

Really? Do tell us about all the governments that would rather have Iran or North Korea in charge of ICANN. Please :)

Re:Does it matter? (5, Funny)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a month ago | (#47697329)

Easy I can name 2:

1. Iran
2. North Korea

Re:Does it matter? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697105)

I'm from Norway. I think the United States has handled it well and there are few countries I would trust to do so.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

xevioso (598654) | about a month ago | (#47698357)

A-ha!

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a month ago | (#47700347)

I'm from Norway. I think the United States has handled it well and there are few countries I would trust to do so.

Pretty much the same feeling, and from most people I know in tech circles. Though I'm in Canada, and my view is Canada-centric. But the vast majority of people here don't trust the UN at all.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Chas (5144) | about a month ago | (#47701425)

Oh. So you disagree!

Tell us all about it!

Note: This disagreement brought to you by American-backed free speech...

Re:Does it matter? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a month ago | (#47697155)

Who didn't see this coming?

Re:Does it matter? (3, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a month ago | (#47697753)

Then again many people outside the USA aren't entirely comfortable with the USA having control over internet governance. Mind you, there are many other countries equally unsuited. The problem is that if one single country has control then one country might decide to use that control to further its own interests. And I don't think that it's a good trade to give all power to one country just to ensure that certain other countries get no power at all.

Of course this is about power shifting towards governments in general. This is to be expected - after all, we can't just have random people running the internet and governments happen to be the very things that represent their countries internationally. I expect ICANN to become something like the ITU: A UN agency that handles infrastructure governance. That does seem to be the safest and fairest option. Do Iran and North Korea get a voice? Yes, they do, just as they should. But that doesn't mean they run the show.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

Kludge (13653) | about a month ago | (#47698453)

after all, we can't just have random people running the internet

I will differ with you here. Random people can and do "run the internet" all the time. Individual network service providers choose to whom they are going to connect. They choose how to route their traffic. Anybody can choose to use alternative DNS roots. The internet can be run by random people just fine.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701687)

You're dealing with liberal idiots, these people have no clue that any country can/does setup DNS servers to resolve names however they want. facts have no bearing.

Their arguments all assume that the USA controls what goes on in some other countries network segment. Idiots with more opinions than knowledge.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

heypete (60671) | about a month ago | (#47698601)

Of course this is about power shifting towards governments in general. This is to be expected - after all, we can't just have random people running the internet and governments happen to be the very things that represent their countries internationally

(Emphasis mine.)

Why not? That's basically what Jon Postel [wikipedia.org] did: he basically singlehandedly administered the DNS root and was IANA.

Sure, things are different now, but we certainly have had random people running the internet. It worked then, why not now?

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a month ago | (#47700993)

Well, there are the schenanigans around the .iq domain. While accounts seem to differ it was a bit peculiar that .iq dropped off the root zone right around when the Iraq War happened. (I know that the guy administering the TLD was nasty but he wasn't convicted yet and I'm not sure it's reasonable to shut down a TLD because the Tech-C is being prosecuted.)

"Random people" includes any single government. Jon Postel might have been trustworthy but his government isn't. Not when international politics are involved. No single government or regional bloc truly is. (Neither are all governments combined but at least they'll have a harder time screwing everything up.)

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47699661)

Well NZ Could run it just fine, we have no "real" army, navy or nuclear capability we can't afford to piss anyone off, anyone who declared war on NZ would probably get laughed at. NZ is also small enough to not be a major political power and have little/no say in global politics but is also a modern country with infrastructure to support this control. We also have free trade agreements with Both the USA and China.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47697779)

I don't know about you, but I would rather have the USA, despite all of its faults (and we have many), in control of these things instead of countries like Iran or North Korea.

Are those our only choices?

Until it became the world's shopping mall, governance of the Internet was rather simple.

At this point, I'd be content to see the Internet blown up completely and something else take its place. It's been too badly corrupted to ever deliver on any of the promise it had when it first became open to the general public.

The first day commerce was conducted on the Internet was the day it started to die. What we see now is a corpse reanimated by the needs of oppressive governments, telcos and huge, mostly evil corporations. It will never get better. There's no fixing it once the money-grubbers and rent-seekers and government upskirters took control.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a month ago | (#47699781)

The usenet was setup in 1980? 1981? I am willing to bet that at least by 1982 someone had sold a physical object to another usenet poster. Thus the internet has been corrupted for at least that long.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47702209)

I am willing to bet that at least by 1982 someone had sold a physical object to another usenet poster.

A swap meet is one thing. A job board, "for sale" signs, no problem.

Commercial uses of the Internet were prohibited until 1995 when the NSF ended its sponsorship of the backbone and turned it over to commercial services.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a month ago | (#47701127)

Yup, commerce is the downfall of any civilization.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47702269)

The internet does not qualify as "a civilization". And certainly it is possible for civilization to have commerce without the Internet, don't you think? Somehow, people managed before 1980.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a month ago | (#47721595)

No but civilizations always work to make commerce more efficient and the internet is obviously a great way to do that. What next, complaints about people using the postal system to transact commerce.

No, I guess you are correct. Those of us who live in smaller towns should not be able to take advantage of the larger shops and choices without actually driving to the "big city" and we should be getting all of our entertainment the old-fashioned way by driving to the live theater.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47724315)

No but civilizations always work to make commerce more efficient and the internet is obviously a great way to do that.

If it was worth doing, then why didn't the private sector do it?

They actually did. I don't know if you're old enough, but the private sector created what they said was going to be an interactive network that would connect everyone. It was called, "cable TV".

When cable rolled out, there were these boxes you could input to answer questions and it was going to be how you communicated with people.

It took government to create the Internet. It could not have been done any way. And since it was created with public funds, there should have been at least some aspect of it that was left to function in the public interest, instead of in the interest of a handful of telcos and content providers. And Amazon.

This is a subject where opinions seem to break down according to whether or not you're old enough to remember what it was like being on the Internet before 1995.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about three weeks ago | (#47792243)

If you want what was there before 1995, then you are still free to provide that. There is no law nor rule that says you cannot. Just like there is no law nor rule that says you must purchase anything from Amazon.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about two weeks ago | (#47795013)

If you want what was there before 1995, then you are still free to provide that.

You mean more than just two ISPs for the entire country?

Actually, you are NOT free to provide that. Not any more.

Re:Does it matter? (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a month ago | (#47696815)

Yeah, I get you. Democratic governments give you, the citizen, no ability to influence affairs.

I know you're trying to reference the fact that your nation(almost certainly the US) has a broken democracy, but I still challenge that it doesn't result in complete disenfranchisement.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47696851)

It's considered broken by people who don't get involved. Their effort revolves around complaining on website.

Re:Does it matter? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696907)

It's considered broken by people who do get involved, because we have a crappy two party system where the two parties are nearly identical on the one front that truly matters: Fundamental and constitutional liberties. Those of us who vote third party realize that voting for the lesser of the two evil scumbags does not solve anything, and yet we are few.

In a democracy, and especially a two party cesspool like ours, you get the government that other people deserve.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a month ago | (#47697013)

Of course, the brokenness isn't that it is two party. If that were truly what citizens wanted, it'd be natural and good. The problem is that the electoral mechanics that underlie it strongly incentive arbitrary long-term political alliances among groups with highly disparate beliefs.

I'd argue that in-turn promotes a disconnect between the actual voters and those they vote for, but now I'm comparing a hypothetical universe against the real one. And we all know that imaginary universes with the changes I want somehow end up perfect.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a month ago | (#47697071)

2 parties suck, but n parties; coalition governments and regular reformations of coalitions also suck. Too much power in the hands of small parties that end up holding the balance.

I'm in favor of no political parties. But accept it's untested IRL and could continue politics being only affordable to the rich.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697129)

The point is, plurality voting is deeply flawed, because the end result is that people vote for either Scumbag A or Scumbag B because the system makes them most likely to win. Without viable alternatives, The One Party can do as it pleases as long as it doesn't piss the voters off to an unimaginable extent, and giving how apathetic most people are, that's easy to avoid.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a month ago | (#47698975)

The alternative is to give kingmaker power to fringe parties. It's not like Italian politics are to be emulated.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697417)

Awesome! Can I use this: "you get the government that other people deserve."?

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697583)

Why ask permission to use a quote? And it's not like he came up with it. I've seen countless people say it, though I'm not sure who said it first.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702777)

The problem is that we have a two party system that has become enshrined in election laws. Ever try registering for both parties? Probably not legal in your state. And that fundamentally undermines the freedom of association supposedly enshrined in the US constitution.

Elections in the US above the local level have been captured by the two party machine who have divided and conquered most of the US. It isn't about ideology, it is about control of resources with just a few wedge issues to distract so that the partisan press can focus on something besides good governance.

We used to say the Soviet Union had bogus elections in part because there was only one serious candidate on the ballot and there was a climate of coercion surrounding press coverage of party candidates. Look at the US today and in most of the country you have a very uncompetitive landscape where one-party control dominates in the local geographical area.

This is all off-topic except that in terms of Internet governance there are plenty of other countries with less corrupt systems of government than the US. And if you go with a two-thirds majority model at the UN that should be good enough to ensure that the countries that have truly reprehensible governments won't be able to garner a simple majority to make changes.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696917)

Its also considered by people who've given up on being involved because they've watched their involvement over the past few decades amount to nothing.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696977)

Well considering getting involved at any level that makes a true difference (unless you REALLY believe your elected representative will ignore the wads of cash and favors for voting one way or another) requires a near limitless flow of income, it's hard for people to "get involved"

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697079)

I keep seeing this comment. It's still disingenuous. Is there an amount of involvement and level of interest among the population that could be enough to change the broken system? Sure. Is it realistic to expect this to occur anytime soon? No. The middle class is to comfortable to pursue positive change on a number of fundamental issues, much less obscure and technical issues. Hopeless commenters on websites might not solve the problems, but they could lead others to take drastic actions.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a month ago | (#47696913)

I live in a small country in Europe. Even if I were to make an attempt at some kind of extremely diluted exertion of power by casting my vote for a nationally elected representative, it would still not amount to anything, because we have close to no power internationally.

Let the buyer beware (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about a month ago | (#47696817)

Sure, why not let the Bantu, Muzzi-wog and slant diktators rule our media ...  cosmopolitans think they  are entitled to do THAT already so just open the tent door a little. Do you need a feckin-A postcard to catch the drift?

They Don't Get It? (2)

Njorthbiatr (3776975) | about a month ago | (#47696843)

The internet isn't some entity you can control. It's a network of individual entities. There are hubs, but there is no internet "core".

Re:They Don't Get It? (1)

Lennie (16154) | about a month ago | (#47696865)

DNS is still pretty centralized though.

Re:They Don't Get It? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47696989)

Sort of, because many people still agree on using the ICANN root zone. The root zone is relatively small. Replacing it with something functionally identical that isn't under unilateral control of a US company is entirely possible, and ICANN's consent is not required.

Re:They Don't Get It? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697025)

As is IP address allocation.

Re:They Don't Get It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697179)

Not really.
It can easily switch hands at the agreement of everyone else.
The whole world can choose to blackhole the whole of the Americas if they wanted to.

Everyone else has a record of the whole DNS, as well as backups in the event of a catastrophic failure in the tables. (which has happened various times before, accidental and deliberate)
Nobody in the UK, for example, depends on US DNS servers. (unless they are specifically using them)

If the US pisses off the rest of the world enough, they'll lose all internet. They will just become a massive intranet, well, South America too.
But Brazil will almost certainly build, and request help with, a new line to somewhere.
They already have at least 1 line to Spain by the looks of it. Will likely lay another next to it to the UK, or even Spain again, since they lost a large amount of bandwidth.
South America in general is already pissed at America for the spying stuff, so they'd be more than happy to cut their own lines too.

Re:They Don't Get It? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697667)

Human society isn't some entity you can control. It's a network of individual entities. There are hubs, but there is no human society "core". Of course, this won't stop people from making the attempt.

Re:They Don't Get It? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a month ago | (#47698191)

Try telling this to your typical politician or government official, who has to hire underlings to manage their email because they don't even understand how to deal with that even on an end-user basis. Even here in the U.S. we have judges occasionally attempt to make legal rulings concerning websites that don't physically reside in the U.S. at all, let alone their jurisdiction.

What power does the ICANN have (1)

NotInHere (3654617) | about a month ago | (#47696873)

root DNS, nothing else? There alternative DNS systems, and even when IANA blocks a TLD, the TLD operators can purchase a second-level domain from a unfrequented TLD like nauru, and run their service as a "second-level TLD".

Oh, I tremble from the might of ICANN, it can assign PORT NUMBERS!!!

Re:What power does the ICANN have (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697393)

There alternative DNS systems

That nobody but crazies and enthusiasts use.

Seriously, you're talking about a world where we haven't been able to get IPV6 up and running. Do you really think people are going to voluntarily switch roots, and put up with the catastrophic brokenness that would bring?

Not packed enough? (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | about a month ago | (#47696899)

It sounds like the governments bent on censorship have managed to pack the ICANN board enough to get this proposal seriously considered but not enough that the ICANN board can't still usually override them:

ICANN is now proposing that the threshold be increased so that 2/3 of eligible ICANN board members would be required to vote against GAC advice in order to reject it

Why else would ICANN's own board even be considering giving this power away?

Re:Not packed enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697199)

lol sick :(

also, captcha subverts... ROFLZ :(

uh yeah, they have it already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697041)

You think that the people in power don't have what they want already?

And don't blame it on the government, they are in somebody's pocket too.

Virtual Veto? (1)

Guy From V (1453391) | about a month ago | (#47697163)

Is this functionally the same as a meatspace veto? What about a holistic immersion filibuster via TRON-esqye deconstructing LASERs?

Whose government is that? (0)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month ago | (#47697353)

I'm afraid I certainly do not recognize Obama --to name one-- as my governor.

Re:Whose government is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47697437)

"You don't vote for kings." --King Arthur

No good will come of this, no good of any kind (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a month ago | (#47698149)

Your average politician doesn't understand how the Internet even works to start with. Now add political agendas, especially from oppressive governments and rulers, and this is what will completely destroy the Internet for everyone, not corporations, not spammers, not scammers, not even cyber-terrorists. It'll end up a fragmented disaster as country after country disconnects and walls themselves off so they're not subjected to the whims of fucktarded politicians, dictators, and even monarchs, who will insist on things that make no sense for a world-wide network. Needless to say, this must be prevented at all costs.

Legislating Whispers (1)

GenaTrius (3644889) | about a month ago | (#47698879)

The governments of the world could screw up the internet pretty badly, but nothing short of engineering an artificial intelligence and giving it control over every computer on the planet is going to be able to "govern" anything.

So what? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about a month ago | (#47700165)

If they want veto power, just kick them off of the rest of the network and watch how fast they come crawling back --- their population of people will literally whip the crap out of them for the lack of facebook/reddit/slashdot/amazon/younameit.com access.

Liberals have no clue as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701731)

So tired of idiots who think the USA has "control of the global internet." As if the USA had to/did ever approve the great firewall of China, or the new Russian policy of dropping any domain that stores information on Russian citizens off Russian soil, or the censorship in North Korea, etc etc... but hey lets not stop reality from giving away our control of OUR internet.

I hate to be partisan but I don't see many conservatives arguing for UN control of US infrastructure. If we did give the UN control of our internet, EU RU and Asian internet wouldn't change a single bit, they are all-ready 100% in control of their infrastructure, it just gives them control of ours as well.

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