Keep Internet out of UN control, says US
October 20, 2005 7:54 AM   Subscribe

The Bush administration is backing a US Senate resolution to stop the UN in its plans to try and move some control of the Internet away from the US -- A new resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate offers political backing to the Bush administration by slamming a United Nations effort to exert more influence over the Internet. Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota, said his nonbinding resolution would protect the Internet from a takeover by the United Nations that's scheduled to be discussed at a summit in Tunisia next month.
posted by zouhair (102 comments total)

 
Now we going from promises to transfer the Internet's management to an NGO to outright backpedalling and theft. Disappointing.
posted by Rothko at 7:58 AM on October 20, 2005


+are
posted by Rothko at 7:58 AM on October 20, 2005


I know it's not an exact analogy, but this American wranging over what is really an international resource smacks of the "Carter gave away our canal" trope back in the day.
posted by alumshubby at 8:01 AM on October 20, 2005


As usual, you can track the status of the resolution (and read its text) on THOMAS.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:02 AM on October 20, 2005


Putting aside legality, exactly what is good about changing Internet control? We've talked here on mefi about the potential for Bush censoring the Internet. Well, you don't have to speculate about the countries that want to transfer control. That's because they're already doing censorship. France and Germany censor hate speech. China, Tunisia, and much of the world have political censorship of the Internet. Is there any reason to think that a UN body composed mostly of countries that censor the Internet right now wouldn't itself institute censorship controls if it had the power?
posted by unreason at 8:07 AM on October 20, 2005


As far back as 1999, U.N. agencies have mulled imposing taxes on Internet e-mail.

I think most of us will agree one of the best things about the Internet is that it's relatively unregulated. Transferring control to the UN would ultimately impose more barriers that would hassle both businesses and consumers.
posted by b_thinky at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2005


I dunno. I feel like I should support UN (or at least international) control on principle, but I don't think I'd like, say, China to have a chunk of the internets.
posted by danb at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2005


Also, keeping Internet control in the US is not a guarantee of less regulation, but it's probably the world's best chance.
posted by b_thinky at 8:10 AM on October 20, 2005


Is there any reason to think that a UN body composed mostly of countries that censor the Internet right now wouldn't itself institute censorship controls if it had the power?
posted by unreason at 11:07 AM EST on October 20 [!]


But the countries wouldn't have managerial control and the UN doesn't answer to any one country (other than the US). That's what an NGO, or non-governmental organization means.
posted by Rothko at 8:11 AM on October 20, 2005


I'd be in favor of handing control of it to an international body on one condition: A seat on that body would be denied to any country without a free press. "Without a free press" can for this purpose be effectively defined as "has executed anyone for sedition, or imprisoned anyone for publishing opinion, within the last 20 years."

Thing is, I'm not sure any country would qualify. I'm sure someone can point out an example somewhere of the U.S. doing the latter. We have such a mess of law and jurisdiction that we've probably done everything at least once, somewhere in this country.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:16 AM on October 20, 2005


At the heart of this international political spat is the unique influence that the U.S. federal government enjoys over Internet addresses and the master database of top-level domain names--a legacy of the Internet's origins years ago. The Bush administration recently raised objections to the proposed addition of .xxx as a red-light district for pornographers, for instance, a veto power that no other government is able to wield.

Portraying this as a fight over "control over the Internet" is ridiculous. It is a fight over who controls TLDs.

It seems to me that US politicians who defend ICANN are simply trying to score points against the "one world government." With the exception of silly examples like the .xxx TLD this seems to me to be a big fight over nothing. Is there really any substance to it?
posted by three blind mice at 8:17 AM on October 20, 2005


Portraying this as a fight over "control over the Internet" is ridiculous. It is a fight over who controls TLDs.

What's the difference? Without TLDs there is no Internet(s).
posted by Rothko at 8:20 AM on October 20, 2005


Having the internet under the control over a body into which our country gets some input rather than the control of a foreign power committed to its own self interest strikes me as an entirely rational motive.
posted by biffa at 8:20 AM on October 20, 2005


Psssst...

We (The US) invented the internet. As such, we get to administrate large parts of it.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:20 AM on October 20, 2005


From the people that brought you the rape of the Congo, the oil for food cover-up, and total inaction in Rwanda, we bring you the Internet!

Tell them about their Internet, Bob.

The Internet, once a free-wheeling research project funded by United States military dollars and then a huge free market for ideas now is going to be controlled by countries whose human rights records make a stay at Guantanamo look like something you might want to do. Iran, China, Syria and others will all get input into what you're allowed to say.

Don't like it? Tough noogies! In a world where the United Nations (and thus autocrracies) rules, you don't get a say, suckas!

The Internets: Now with 100% more state control!!!
posted by swerdloff at 8:21 AM on October 20, 2005


The system works quite well as is. America has, compared to most western democracies even, some of the strongest speech protections in existence. It's one of the very (very) few points where we still rank above our northern neighbors. I am not a fan of my country right now, but there isn't a government of body thereof better qualified to manage the DNS system.
posted by Ryvar at 8:21 AM on October 20, 2005


government or body thereof
posted by Ryvar at 8:22 AM on October 20, 2005


While the US Government isn't anyone's best friend, isn't the UN worse? Who wants Iran, North Korea, Syria, those nut cases from South Africa, North Africa, West Africa, China, the Fertile Crescent (wherever that is) and France taxing, censoring, and reading their email?
posted by ewkpates at 8:23 AM on October 20, 2005


Now we going from promises... to outright... theft.

Theft is the right word. Theft implies that someone had ownership and clear right of title over something and we took it away. SweetJesus's point seems to indicate that UN never had ownership over it.
posted by dios at 8:25 AM on October 20, 2005


swerdloff; how do you expect someone who controls TLDs to censor, let's say, anti-islamic speech, exactly?
posted by odinsdream at 8:26 AM on October 20, 2005


These last few posts are sounding like the traditional defense of democracy: Sure, it may suck in practice, but it's much better than all the other alternatives.
posted by alumshubby at 8:27 AM on October 20, 2005


The U.S. Dosn't really 'control' the internet so much as let a few american corporations profit off of domain name registrations.

I suppose I'd rather they didn't make so much money, but I definetly would not want to put the internet into the hands of people who do want control.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on October 20, 2005


Theft is the right word.

Obviously that is suppose to say: Theft is NOT the right word.
posted by dios at 8:30 AM on October 20, 2005


There is a memorandum of understanding from the Department of Commerce that states:

On July 1, 1997, as part of the Administration's Framework for Global Electronic Commerce, the President directed the Secretary of Commerce to privatize the management of the domain name system (DNS) in a manner that increases competition and facilitates international participation in its management.

The US is reneging on its word and attempting to legislate the theft of the TLDs. It doesn't seem relevant if we "do DNS better" or have better free speech protections (contentious issues, in any case).
posted by Rothko at 8:30 AM on October 20, 2005


What's the difference? Without TLDs there is no Internet(s).

The domain name server system serves as a convenience, and the internet would be a-ok with out it. It would just be a pain the in ass to write in the IP address instead of the domain name.

TCP/IP is what makes the internet go.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:30 AM on October 20, 2005


swerdloff; how do you expect someone who controls TLDs to censor, let's say, anti-islamic speech, exactly?

By requireing their registrars to revoke domain names of people they feel are hate speechin'.
posted by delmoi at 8:32 AM on October 20, 2005


It's isn't really nefarious for one administration to change a policy that is suggested by a previous administration. I can't imagine the purpose of regular elections if a "memorandum of understanding" is somehow binding on every subsequent elected official as inviolate.
posted by dios at 8:33 AM on October 20, 2005


The domain name server system serves as a convenience, and the internet would be a-ok with out it. It would just be a pain the in ass to write in the IP address instead of the domain name.

I just don't see the Internet where it is today without TLDs. Technically you are correct, but to be reasonable, do you believe that typing in IPv4 addresses would have allowed the Internet to take off, let alone the dot-com boom? (Let alone typing in IPv6 addresses?)
posted by Rothko at 8:34 AM on October 20, 2005


i suppose we should turn over the keys to GPS, the Hubble telescope, and a half dozen other things the rest of the planet enjoys at our expense, as well??

gimme a fucking break.

i'm sorry, but current lame-ass administration aside, this is still the best fucking country on the planet, and i don't see any legitimate reason we should hand over control of something that US taxpayers footed the bill for, and are quite competently administering, to the clusterfuck that is the UN, or it's pathetic member states.

they want their root servers? fine. they're welcome to cook up there own network and protocols and have at it. china apparently is already well under way on that front anyway.
posted by jimjam at 8:35 AM on October 20, 2005


Dios says: Obviously that is suppose to say: Theft is NOT the right word.

God, for just one moment there I could feel the Love...
posted by oh pollo! at 8:37 AM on October 20, 2005


To those more in the know, I ask "What specific things is the US doing wrong in it's control of the internet?" and "How will giving the UN control improve those problems?"

No snark, serious question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on October 20, 2005


I can't imagine the purpose of regular elections if a "memorandum of understanding" is somehow binding on every subsequent elected official as inviolate.
posted by dios at 11:33 AM EST on October 20 [!]


Reneging on established policy returns the TLDs to their current role in political and financial jockeying, as was discussed in the .xxx thread. One purpose was to reduce corruption and government influence peddling in Internet management. My opinion is that this legislation will set the United States further back along this goal, in addition to one more nail in the coffin distancing the US from the international community.
posted by Rothko at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2005


I blame the Iraqi's and demand we airstrike them immediately.
That should clear all this up, toot-sweet.
posted by Balisong at 8:44 AM on October 20, 2005


It might well be bad policy, and that would be grounds to attack such a decision on. But there is no need to overstate the case and start decrying "reneging" and "theft" because one administration changed a policy of a previous administration---that happens all the time---or because we aren't now going to give away control---which indicates that it was our control and wouldn't be theft to retain it.
posted by dios at 8:45 AM on October 20, 2005


Somewhere, Tim Berners-Lee is banging his head on a table.
posted by bhance at 8:48 AM on October 20, 2005


i suppose we should turn over the keys to GPS

The EU is paying for its own version of GPS, despite US opposition.
posted by biffa at 8:53 AM on October 20, 2005


Alternative DNS Root on WikiPedia

As wise Judy Blume said, it's not the end of the world, no matter how this pointless wrangling turns out.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:53 AM on October 20, 2005


Hehe - I watched Slashdot discuss it to exhaustion (6 or 7 very busy articles to date) and was hoping to see a more serene discussion over here. Alas, it does not seem very hopeful now.

jimjam writes "i suppose we should turn over the keys to GPS, the Hubble telescope, and a half dozen other things the rest of the planet enjoys at our expense, as well??"

So Europe decided to make another GPS network at their expense, since the US insisted on having the power to turn the network off at will. And so it may also happen to the Internet, the rest of the world creating an alternate group of root servers and eventually mandating the ISPs within their borders to use it. Eventually the US will come along.

jimjam writes "they're welcome to cook up there own network and protocols and have at it."

Yes, everybody knows most of technology underlying the Internet was invented in the US. But all the relevant technology was released to public domain and most, if not all, the software realization of the technology is Free Software. So there is no point in saying "We invented it", it is just patriotic giberish (else we would still be paying royalties to Germany for every book and newspaper printed). You have no more control over the technology and the protocols than anyone else.

Now, I would ask the enlighted people in here, who now and then vociferate agaisnt the extension of Disney's copyrights until hell freezes over, to answer a simple question: how long should the world wait for the US government to cease to have supervidory power over ICANN?
posted by nkyad at 8:54 AM on October 20, 2005


See you all on Internet 2 Internet 3, then?
posted by blacklite at 8:57 AM on October 20, 2005


George Spiggot wrote: I'm sure someone can point out an example somewhere of the U.S. doing the latter.

Try the first and second.

Not to rain on everybody's U.S. is holier than thou parade.
posted by dsword at 8:59 AM on October 20, 2005


The sad thing is that right now, it's not the United States that has control over ICANN. It's the United States Government - a body that seems to change political direction 8 years on, and is perfectly willing to nix an idea such as a .xxx domain on purely ethical/political-pointscoring grounds without consulting any other bodies.

Given a reality where most people who use the Internet are *not* American nor would they share certain American values, would it not make more sense to hand it over to an international body?

It's a global resource. The responsibility should be global too.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 9:00 AM on October 20, 2005


Brandon Blatcher writes "I ask 'What specific things is the US doing wrong in it's control of the internet?' and 'How will giving the UN control improve those problems?'"

I believe that, since the US is clearly the most powerful economic potency in the world and also (or "and consequently) mantains most powerful military force, people elsewhere eventually get uneasy to let they control what is becoming a major piece of everybody's infra-structure ("control" here is used in the real sense, the US Federal Government, specifically the Department of Commerce I think, has supervisory and veto powers over ICANN). Giving the UN control strikes me as just a marketing move - the controlling agency will probably has little or no say in the way individual countries run their pieces of the network, just like ICANN.

People saying "My Internet will be censored" look quite unaware that "their" Internet is subject to their country laws - so a French judge can well order Yahoo to comply to France laws and take action against any assets or companies Yahoo may have in France if they don't comply. Just like everything else.
posted by nkyad at 9:03 AM on October 20, 2005


I think they should let me run the internet. I'll feed it and take care of it. I promise!
posted by SirOmega at 9:03 AM on October 20, 2005


It's a global resource. The responsibility should be global too.

No, it's not global. Most of the people who use the internet for constructive means speak American English, and therefore it must remain under American control.
posted by gsb at 9:05 AM on October 20, 2005


how long should the world wait for the US government to cease to have supervidory power over ICANN?

Not a minute past when they feel like it, obviously. The US does not "own the internet." Statements to that effect are embarrassingly ignorant.

The law and treaties don't matter. The actual network and protocols are all that matter. The law will be forced to trail along behind, like it usually does in computing matters.

If the rest of the world decides they don't need ICANN, there ain't nothing we can (or should, IMO) do.

gsb: Boy, I hope that was a joke.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:06 AM on October 20, 2005


Odin's dream:

Shut down sites that say what you don't like. Control of TLDs is the tip of the dagger.

Or, you know, what delmoi said.
posted by swerdloff at 9:08 AM on October 20, 2005



i'm sorry, but current lame-ass administration aside, this is still the best fucking country on the planet,

How are you measuring that? Yeah, we have a lot more money then anyone else, but there are a lot of places that are better to live in, and have higher rates of social mobility (i.e. it's 'easier to get rich')


Somewhere, Tim Berners-Lee is banging his head on a table.

Uh, he has nothing to do with the internet backend that the UN wants to take control of.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 AM on October 20, 2005


It's also possible to negotiate a solution somewhere between handing "control" over to the UN and leaving it completely under US control. It seems that this may head that way eventually. A multilateral treaty or agreement that included some significant number of US economic partners and allies might be more prudent.

In any case, it is certainly possible to "facilitate" international involvement without involving the UN. I don't know much about the UN, but perhaps they are not the best organization to regulate this.
posted by dougny at 9:17 AM on October 20, 2005


I continue to view the Internet as a research project; especially with IPv6 still needing to be implemented. I have a concern of this becoming an administrative office within a large NGO, the future research decisions could become stagnated within said large NGO.

admittedly I have not read the proposal of shifting the services to the U.N., but is there any thought on how the future of the Internet will be handled (ie. features rolled out)? I envision this being like the Security consul where a vote can stop an entire process - regardless of whether the process is worthy or not.

I want to believe in the U.N. mission, but is technical research a part of that?
posted by fluffycreature at 9:23 AM on October 20, 2005


Uh, he has nothing to do with the internet backend that the UN wants to take control of.

Poke around his site a bit, (perhaps here) and you might understand where I was coming from with that one.
posted by bhance at 9:27 AM on October 20, 2005


controlled by countries whose human rights records make a stay at Guantanamo look like something you might want to do

I didn't know that redneck bars had Internet connections -- Hick Wi-Fi? but I understand the bad case of shot nerves of those who are seeing a cakewalk turn into a 10-year-plus commitment + money-burning machine (Halliburton thanks all US taxpayers, by the way, by the bottom of its blackened heart) and are losing a war, and losing bad. interestingly enough, history shows that empires fall this way -- motus in fine velocior, and all that.
I have compassion for the rage, and the confusion of our UN-hating friends -- it must be painful to be in such a bad spot that you actually end up bragging about Guantanamo, for fuck's sake.


Iran, China, Syria and others will all get input into what you're allowed to say.

invade those, too, then.
posted by matteo at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2005


delmoi writes
"Somewhere, Tim Berners-Lee is banging his head on a table."

"Uh, he has nothing to do with the internet backend that the UN wants to take control of."

Maybe he's just feeling sad?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2005


I just don't see the Internet where it is today without TLDs. Technically you are correct, but to be reasonable, do you believe that typing in IPv4 addresses would have allowed the Internet to take off, let alone the dot-com boom? (Let alone typing in IPv6 addresses?)

The point is is that the TLD system is just a tiny part of internet infrastructure, and by no means the "only" solution that transposes numbers into letters. I'm not technically correct, I'm fundamentally correct.

What exactly would one gain from having the UN in control of ICANN and the TLDs rather than the US Government? What does the world gain? Absolutely nothing - it moves from one set of bureaucrats to another, except now we have an international collection of chefs, and all the political in-fighting that comes with, all trying to cook our collective soup in their own way.

Anyway, I'm of the opinion that if you invent the network, you get more say in it's direction than someone who just uses the network.
posted by SweetJesus at 9:42 AM on October 20, 2005


As the British, French & Spanish invented the USA and the Brits & Spanish the majority languages therein, will we get the right to control them now?

(Gotta love the UN=Libya, North Korea & everyone eeeeevul equation when it suits the 'arguement'. Also gotta love suposedly progressive, open-minded types gettin' all U-S-A! on our ass...)

'...this is still the best fucking country on the planet...'
'cos you've checked out the other 200-odd haven't you. ++NEWSFLASH++ THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE AS 'THE BEST COUNTRY' +++
posted by i_cola at 9:43 AM on October 20, 2005


As the British, French & Spanish invented the USA and the Brits & Spanish the majority languages therein, will we get the right to control them now?

I had no idea you could invent a country. I thought inventions had to be, you know, tangible...
posted by SweetJesus at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2005


i say we give control of the internet to the jamaicans... and lets all chill out a little.

it's the least we can do after the we/the WTO/worldbank f*cked em over.
posted by specialk420 at 9:59 AM on October 20, 2005


THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE AS 'THE BEST COUNTRY'

Assuming one defines a metric, doesn't there have to be a "best" by definition?
posted by dios at 10:00 AM on October 20, 2005


dios writes "Assuming one defines a metric, doesn't there have to be a 'best' by definition?"

Absolutely. But then again no one will agree on what metric to use and you end up with one of those marketing situations where ten or fifteen banks or ISPs or junk-food joints rightfully claim to be the "largest" (or "the best" or "the more honest" or "the fastest").
posted by nkyad at 10:05 AM on October 20, 2005


Yes, that'd be a pretty big assumption to make. That's like saying "Assuming monkeys start coming out of my butt at the rate of one per minute, I'll have 60 monkeys an hour from now." Well, sure, the statement is true, but it's a rather large stretch.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2005


I don't care about taking who take care of the TLD's as soon it's not the private companies, but it's not.

COMPANIES DON'T CARE OF QUALITY, THEY JUST CARE OF MONEY

so the point it be controlled by one country or the other is not the point.
posted by zouhair at 10:13 AM on October 20, 2005


the internet's a concept, not a network ... it does not require a certain set of wires and computers to operate ... there's nothing preventing any group of people from rolling their own

the u n can start their own tld system anytime they want ... so can china ... or any other country ... and if the u s doesn't like what they're doing to it, we can just have our own

someone will come up with a way to translate one set of tlds to another ... i'm not sure that the idea of having just one internet is all that good, anyway ... in fact, i'm not even certain we have just one

no one's going to control ALL the internets ... it's just not going to happen
posted by pyramid termite at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2005


The point is is that the TLD system is just a tiny part of internet infrastructure, and by no means the "only" solution that transposes numbers into letters.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:42 PM EST on October 20 [!]


It may not be the only solution, but it is the de facto way things are done, for better or worse, and one you'd be hardpressed to get the world to replace overnight with anything decentralized. You may be technically correct, but in reality whoever manages the TLDs pretty much controls the Internets. The semantic distinction between the two is not entirely relevant for this discussion.
posted by Rothko at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2005


An obvious solution - set up a mirror TLD server farm for the UN to play with. If, after a reasonable time frame (I'd say, oh, 50 years or so, no need to get hasty) they haven't buggered it all to hell through various censorship initiatives and intercontinental pissing matches about who controls what and how - THEN we give them the keys for a test drive. For a limited time. With limited control.

Until then, I don't see how the system's near broke enough to require the UN to come in and screw it up further. After the Oil for Food scandal, I don't think I'd trust them if they figure they could make a buck off it.
posted by JB71 at 10:16 AM on October 20, 2005


remember how we all laughed at bush's "internets" bushism from last year?

he's going to be right on that one if a solution is not found.
posted by ronenosity at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2005


JB71 writes "I don't see how the system's near broke enough to require the UN to come in and screw it up further."

Looking at it as a technical problem is a mistake. It is not "the UN" who wants to control it. The individual countries connected to the network want some measure of control and responsability and the UN or some other global centralized agency seem to be the simplest way to acchieve this end.

One should also notice that all this could probably go away if the US Government simply revoked its self-appointed right to interfere and at same time granted ICANN the TLD management for the next hundred years.
posted by nkyad at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2005


It may not be the only solution, but it is the de facto way things are done, for better or worse, and one you'd be hardpressed to get the world to replace overnight with anything decentralized.

It's only de facto because it works so well. If someone (The UN) fucks it up, something else will rise up quickly to take it's place. The internet is far too fluid for something like the United Nations to take control of. They can deal with matters of international diplomacy, fine, that's their job - but giving them control of the TLDs is like letting Network Solutions run the .com TLD - a fucking disaster.

Where exactly is the United States suppressing freedom of speech through it's administration of the TLDs? Who is getting their .com revoked for something political they've written? What, no one? Fine, then leave well enough alone and stop putting all your trust in international bureaucrat collectives to run technology efficiently. It's not broken, stop trying to fix it.

The great thing about the internet is you can say whatever you want, as long as you pay some company 35 bucks a year for the naming rights... (Or seven bucks to 1&1.com, but whatever...) I want the UN to stay the hell away from that.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2005


dsword, that's really, really scrounging. The Rosenberg case was over fifty years ago and was about spying, not sedition. The other case is more germane assuming the charges were trumped up as a cover (I don't know this to be true or untrue), but if you have to reach that desparately to find evidence of the suppression of speech in America you actually have a higher opinion of our record than I do. I could find better examples of suppression of speech and the press in America than that, but far be it from me to make your case for you if you can't be arsed to do it yourself.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:47 AM on October 20, 2005


A better Grauniad article on the subject. And some actual documents. The comments documents are pretty interesting.
posted by fleacircus at 10:54 AM on October 20, 2005


We (The US) invented the internet. As such, we get to administrate large parts of it.

A Canadian invented basketball, but that doesn't mean that Paul Martin should be the commissioner of the NBA.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:57 AM on October 20, 2005


SweetJesus writes "Where exactly is the United States suppressing freedom of speech through it's administration of the TLDs? Who is getting their .com revoked for something political they've written?"

When was it ever the question? All I see is people saying the opposite, that the UN or whatever IS going to censor "their" Internet. Just like IATA forbids them to fly and ITU records to their phone calls.
posted by nkyad at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2005


Oh, goodie! a p;ost that has many people here against their country--the U.S., a country not to be trusted, an imperialistic batch of warmongers etc; and on the other hand, you can't trust theUN, made up as it is by many less than democratic nations....
In sum: we can not trust anyone
posted by Postroad at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2005


"Assuming monkeys start coming out of my butt at the rate of one per minute, I'll have 60 monkeys an hour from now." Well, sure, the statement is true, but it's a rather large stretch.

Goatse explained at last.
posted by biffa at 11:04 AM on October 20, 2005


We (The US) invented the internet. As such, we get to administrate large parts of it.
posted by SweetJesus at 4:20 PM GMT on October 20 [!]

That's fine. Tim Berners-Lee "invented" the Word Wide Web whilst at CERN. I'm very happy for you to keep "the internet" (let's be generous and say TCP/IP, e-mail etc) as long as you hand over control of the World Wide Web and every web server to the EU :)

Oh, hey, Television was invented by a Scotsman, so why is the FCC controlling your TV channels when - by your logic - the BBC should be calling the shots? :)

(No, I'm not serious...)
posted by kaemaril at 11:30 AM on October 20, 2005


If the US cedes control over the parts of the Internet it still controls to the rest of the world, it will likely gradually become less powerful and relevant to the world. A network that spreads gets less central and more diverse.

If the US refuses to cede control, though, it is guaranteed to lose power and relevance, just more dramatically.

Sooner or later the rest of the world will indeed cobble together their own "internet" bit by bit, and well end up with the Internet-in-name-only (USA-driven) and Internet-in-practice (the worldwide version). This is the same US-centrism that risks isolating the US and actually producing the "US vs. the World" scenario in a sort of self-fulfulling prophecy.

It's not a US network any more than the moon is a US possession. Clinging to an unworkable notion like that won't help make it so, either. It's just sour-grapes-ism.

Slow decline or dramatic decline is the only real choice, I think.
posted by j-dub at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2005


j-dub: Exactly! Excellently put!
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:45 AM on October 20, 2005


j-dub: Sooner or later the rest of the world will indeed cobble together their own "internet" bit by bit</i?

we've already got our own internet. It's not like we lease all the routers, servers and thousands upon thousands of miles of cable. All we'd need is our own set of top-level name-servers, and a lot of re-routing...

posted by kaemaril at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2005


crap. Damn dynamic preview got me there :(
posted by kaemaril at 11:48 AM on October 20, 2005


j-dub writes "Sooner or later the rest of the world will indeed cobble together their own 'internet' bit by bit, and well end up with the Internet-in-name-only (USA-driven) and Internet-in-practice (the worldwide version)."

And we are suddenly back in 1990's, when the Internet (as in "the set of network protocols agreed upon by a certain number of people" aka TCP/IP) was slowly taking the world and sending other networks into the dust bin: everybody who had a stake in networking business was running to provide Internet connectivity so their clients wouldn't move away too fast. The most likely scenario, if a diplomatic solution can't be reached, is a break-up quickly followed by the development of bridges between the two global networks and eventually a reunification Like divorced couples who keep having sex together until they finally realize they don't really want to be apart.
posted by nkyad at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2005


delmoi -
The U.S. Dosn't really 'control' the internet so much as let a few american corporations profit off of domain name registrations.


I actually pay Germans for my domains... Big SCREW YOU to NetSol.
posted by fet at 12:01 PM on October 20, 2005


I had no idea you could invent a country.

OK, now I'm banging my head on a table.
posted by i_cola at 12:19 PM on October 20, 2005


That's fine. Tim Berners-Lee "invented" the Word Wide Web whilst at CERN. I'm very happy for you to keep "the internet" (let's be generous and say TCP/IP, e-mail etc) as long as you hand over control of the World Wide Web and every web server to the EU :)

Fine, Tim can keep his HTTP, although I hear it doesn't work too well without the TCP/IP part. Of course, Tim also used the de facto (god I hate to keep using that word) standard for defining protocols, RFC, specifically RFC 2616, so it was a collaborative process with Tim as the standard barer.

Sooner or later the rest of the world will indeed cobble together their own "internet" bit by bit, and well end up with the Internet-in-name-only (USA-driven) and Internet-in-practice (the worldwide version). This is the same US-centrism that risks isolating the US and actually producing the "US vs. the World" scenario in a sort of self-fulfulling prophecy.

I very much doubt that. The administration of the TLDs is a small potato in the great silo of internet problems. Re-writing DNS protocols and standards because you don't administer the system is akin to knocking down your house and rebuilding because you don't own the cable box in your living room.

In addition, and I'm sure this will bring on something akin to a nationalist flame war, the United States is the most technologically capable and experienced country in the world when it comes to Internet engineering, especially in the private sector. With out the US, and by extension the corporations who do business here, any second network would struggle Quixotically and ultimately die in a way that would make Darwin proud. In other words, Good luck with the snipe hunt.

OK, now I'm banging my head on a table.

You might want to wipe the sarcasm off my post, an re-read it before you go and hurt yourself.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:37 PM on October 20, 2005


the Fertile Crescent (wherever that is)
posted by ewkpates at 10:23 AM CST on October 20


That about sums it up.
posted by goethean at 1:45 PM on October 20, 2005


You know I've been thinking. I've invested a lot of time and energy in MeFi, and I'm not exactly comfortable with the fact that Matt can shut it down anytime he likes on a whim. I say that he hands over the keys to the MeFi community represented by say dios, rothko, amberglow, jessamyn and of course Matt. Oh, he doesn't have to turn over everything, just the DNS entries for www, ask, and metatalk. Maybe this way we can finally get news.metafilter.com and chat.metafilter.com. So who's with me?

I'm not serious, just painting the FPP in the light I see it
posted by forforf at 1:46 PM on October 20, 2005


The Democratic thing to do would be to give control of the internets to the corporation that contributes the most moey to the administration currently in power. It's the American way.
(sheesh)
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 1:55 PM on October 20, 2005


forforf writes "I'm not serious, just painting the FPP in the light I see it"

Actually your point of view is quite common, but the analogy fails to address one small point: the US is not paying anyone's Internet bill. In a large scale, my country has to pay some companies (probably American companies, mind you) for the backbone bandwidth that connects us to the rest of the world. So, we are saying we want to have a say in the administration of this resource we pay for.

Matt, on the other hand, pays for the server and the bandwidth. All we can do is say we won't be coming here anymore to which he would answer "See you some day, have a nice life." (there are exceptions to this in the physical world: a government can declare an area or some building or some line of business strategic or important to the public and take control, paying the former owner for it - eventually it will happen to websites, but not in the near future I think).

Up to now, the US Government is just saying "See you some day, have a nice life". The question is how long they can keep repeating it before it hurts the bottom line. Many US companies, for instance, depend on people from mine and other countries for a substantial portion of their online sales. If we leave their side of the network they will quickly be asking Washington to give the damn thing away and go back to business.
posted by nkyad at 2:49 PM on October 20, 2005


In addition, and I'm sure this will bring on something akin to a nationalist flame war, the United States is the most technologically capable and experienced country in the world when it comes to Internet engineering, especially in the private sector. With out the US, and by extension the corporations who do business here, any second network would struggle Quixotically and ultimately die in a way that would make Darwin proud. In other words, Good luck with the snipe hunt.
Wow. That's easily the most arrogant thing I've ever heard in my life. I'd expect that sort of crap from some moronic "freedom-fries" loving senator, not a mefite. All I can say is it sure is good that the US of A and its enlightened businesses deigns to helps us backward foreigners out, for without them the transmission of our web pages would be much slower, dependent as they would be upon the vast fleets of carrier pigeons we technologically inferior countries would be forced to rely upon. I dread to think what impact bird flu would have had upon our youth's porn browsing...
posted by kaemaril at 3:15 PM on October 20, 2005


Fine, Tim can keep his HTTP, although I hear it doesn't work too well without the TCP/IP part.

HTTP is transport neutral.
posted by delmoi at 3:48 PM on October 20, 2005


It's not a US network any more than the moon is a US possession.

Well, we did put a flag on it, so by Eddie Izzard standards...
posted by quin at 5:35 PM on October 20, 2005


Much as I admire Eddie Izzard as a comedian, I don't think we should necessarily be adopting anything of his as an internationally recognised standard :)
posted by kaemaril at 6:34 PM on October 20, 2005


I like the US because it is the most self-critical nation I know of. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I do think there is more of a tendency towards a realistic view of our own flaws in the US than in other places.

Also, and this might seem like a sad joke, but there seems to be less, to me, tendency to regard people of other nationalities and ethnicities as outsiders or foreigners. Although I don't think this has been the most healthy of our positive traits of late.

And because I have a bit of survivalist Appalachian shotgun toting hermit in me, (not because I've ever even held a gun), I like a country that forbids taking away weapons from the populace.
posted by SomeOneElse at 7:01 PM on October 20, 2005


Another reason to defund the UN ASAP!
posted by ParisParamus at 7:01 PM on October 20, 2005


You've clearly thought this through, PP.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:16 PM on October 20, 2005


There is little to think through: do you want Metafilter regulated by any government any more than it is?
posted by ParisParamus at 8:25 PM on October 20, 2005


There is
One of the most convenient of indications: sweeping and final. G'night, PP.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:39 PM on October 20, 2005


Uh oh. I find myself reflexively agreeing with Paris Paramus.

must slap.........face....harder.....impose......proper.....res....sp..onse......can't fight pressure.... must...... must......

Don't you DARE regulate my Metafilter, you darned UN !
posted by troutfishing at 9:13 PM on October 20, 2005


Every country should regulate the internet as it touches on hardware within its borders. Countries that don't want to play by internationally agreed rules can be routed around. If two or three or ten competing versions of the internet develop, fine.
posted by pracowity at 12:24 AM on October 21, 2005


flame war breaks out between metafilter and little green footballs ... u n peacekeepers to step in ...
posted by pyramid termite at 12:38 AM on October 21, 2005


Is there anything wrong with the theory that if the Internet is a global resource (ie accessed by all, available to all) then it should be administered by all? Isn't that what democracy is all about? ;)

Oh, and SomeOneElse: The Brits are *way* more critical of themselves than anyone else. Seriously. ;-)
posted by badlydubbedboy at 5:14 AM on October 21, 2005


I'm a little late to the party but it seems to me the Internet is already in private hands. Despite the nationalistic rhetoric, legal hair splitting and rhetorical hoops many are jumping through to make their point wouldn't it be the telcos and backbone providers who are going to determine how the Internet functions?

Infrastructure ain't free and isn't publicly owned -- for example, if Level 3 decides to pull the plug you can pretty much expect southern California to drop off the network. Redundancy is all well and good but when the back up is managed by a 'corporate partner' how redundant is it?

The protocols, procedures and software may be a global resource but the nuts and bolts are in private hands. I find it hard to picture the day that Verio and ATT accept the UN as a regulatory agency.
posted by cedar at 7:03 AM on October 21, 2005


I do think there is more of a tendency towards a realistic view of our own flaws in the US than in other places.

Also, and this might seem like a sad joke, but there seems to be less, to me, tendency to regard people of other nationalities and ethnicities as outsiders or foreigners.
- SomeOneElse

Well, at least you know how funny that sounds.
posted by raedyn at 1:23 PM on October 21, 2005


I think the US should retain control because we have the most open policy. ICANN's role is very limited and has nothing to do with controlling content. ICANN keeps things running smoothly by overseeing IP addresses and domain names. It also makes sure that each domain name maps to the correct IP address.


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4958840
posted by sultan at 2:22 PM on October 21, 2005


Re: The link above - npr seems to prevent deep links ... copy and pasting in the address bar seemed to work though.
posted by forforf at 12:27 PM on October 22, 2005


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