The Future Of Internet Freedom

Big powers want to chop up the global internet and put nations in charge.  Russia.  China.  We’re looking at the push to rein in the web.

Internet map. (Steve Jurvetson, Flickr)

Internet map. (Steve Jurvetson, Flickr)

The Internet was born free.  A novel network that spanned the globe before governments entirely understood what was going on.  But they know now.  More than forty nations now filter and censor the web.  Some have just plain shut it down – think Syria last week.

At a big UN meeting this week in Dubai, there is a fresh push to give national governments more control over the global web.  Maybe through the U.N.  China, Russia, Iran appear to like the idea.  The control.  The U.S. and big American companies – Google, Facebook – do not.

This hour, On Point:  alarm bells over global Internet freedom.

-Tom Ashbrook


Brian Murphy, Dubai bureau chief for the Associated Press.

Tom Gjelten, covers a wide variety of global security and economic issues for National Public Radio.

Ronald Deibert, Director of Citizen Lab and a professor at the University of Toronto.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wcitleaks, a site maintained by George Mason University researchers, highlights the degree to which some governments would like to change the status quo. A Russian proposal, submitted on November 17, calls for ITU member states to enjoy “equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment, and reclamation of internet numbering, naming addressing and identification of resources and to support for [sic] the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure.” Reportedly, this proposal enjoys support both China and India.

The Wall Street Journal “The question of who rules the Internet and how is being debated at a 12-day conference in Dubai. The World Conference on International Telecommunications, which started Monday, aims to draft a new treaty to underpin international telecommunications regulations. The current rules were put in place in 1988. The conference is sponsored by the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies.”

The Huffington Post “Letting an obscure “one vote per country” UN technical agency decide who does what next in the Internet’s development is the antithesis of what the Internet has achieved. Much of the documentation to date is secret, and it’s hard to figure out the agendas of many players. The blogosphere is buzzing about proposals by repressive governments and money-grabbing telecommunications companies.”

BBC News “Sir Tim Berners-Lee – inventor of the world wide web – is the latest voice to raise concerns about a meeting of communication tech regulators in Dubai. He spoke of concerns that some attendees would push for a UN agency to “run the internet” rather than leaving it to groups already “doing a good job”.”

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