The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public policy group, is protesting a brewing controversial idea that the United Nations gain some control over the Internet. The infrastructure of the Internet is managed by the U.S-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The World Summit on the Information Society is meeting in this week in Tunisia. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan maintains the UN only wants to address the so-called digital divide. In an op-ed piece originally run in the Washington Post, Annan says the UN does not want to take over the Web; rather, it wants to ensure the Internet’s global reach, Annan writes.
CEI leaders say some of the loudest proponents for UN oversight of the Internet are governments with policies opposed to the free and open exchange of ideas.
Turning control of the Internet over to an agency staffed by UN bureaucrats would a terrible mistake, says CEIs vice president, Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. Imagine a world where the rules for what s permissible to say and do online are written by diplomats appointed by Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro and the Chinese Communist party.
In a news release, CEI notes holding the World Summit in Tunisia points to the threat poised by United Nations control. The Tunisian government has imprisoned journalists for publishing material critical of the regime, as have countries advocating UN Internet responsibility, including Iran and China.
The Internet helps overcome restrictions on trade and communications imposed by oppressive governments, says Crews. Allowing these governments to reassert control through a UN backdoor would be a disaster.