NY Times Complains About US Control Of Internet

November 16th, 2007 1:18 PM

The New York Times newspaper headlined its article about the recently concluded United Nations-sponsored Internet conference in Brazil as US Control of Internet Remains Issue. However, as is usual with the Times, while the tone of the article was complaining about the fact that the United States maintains control over the core Internet, they offered no evidence that handing over control to a foreign or even worse, a UN-controlled entity would be better. As the Associated Press article used by the Times reports,

A U.N.-sponsored Internet conference ended Thursday with little to show in closing the issue of U.S. control over how people around the world access e-mail and Web sites. With no concrete recommendations for action, the only certainty going forward is that any resentment about the American influence will only grow as more users from the developing world come online, changing the face of the global network.

Of course, while the AP and the Times reported that 'the only certainty going forward is that any resentment about the American influence will only grow;, they were unable to show that there are actually andy disadvantages to the current system. If thee is indeed 'resentment', neither the AP nor the Times were able to make any arguments to justify the resentment. And the AP and the Times were completely unable to present any evidence showing that forcing the US to give up control would bring any improvements. The Internet grew out of the ARPANET created by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which created the first interlinked network of computer systems and eventually provided the backbone still used by the Internet today. the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, headquartered in Marina del Rey, California, is the main control for assigning domain names and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses worldwide. It appears that the simple fact that the United States government holds a veto over ICANN's operations and decisions has made some countries want to end US control and hand it over the to United Nations or some other non-US authority. But the US invented the Internet and to this day hosts some of the root servers. And there is no evidence that the US is doing anything to impede the free flow of information- in fact the United States is one of the few countries that has a consistent history of supporting and advancing freedom of information. As even the AP was forced to admit,

The United States insists that the existing arrangements ensure the Internet's stability and prevent a country from trying to, say, censor Web sites by pulling entries out of the domain name directories. Supporters of the current system denounced the Russian proposal. ''The Russian proposal seeks to exponentially increase government interference in the ICANN process, introducing a dangerous and destabilizing force into a global Internet addressing system that has been a paragon of stability under the current oversight structure,'' said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a coalition of high-tech leaders like Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

The United States has a vested interest in the free exchange of information, and has a history of working to protect that free exchange. In contrast, the United Nations has a history of helping countries dominated by unelected and repressive governments (such as Venezuela, Hussein's Iraq, China, etc). Therefore, I cannot see that handing over control to the UN or any other non-US agency would bring any improvements. In addition, as the Internet is almost entirely a US creation, why should the US give up its role? The Times and the AP cannot present any answers to this question. Or would the Times and the AP prefer that countries such as China or Russia, neither of whom have a good record of providing free information, gain control of the Internet, as they would surely do if the UN takes control. This is yet another example of empty-headed reporters, who somehow see the United States as the enemy, despite the patent fact that they would be unable to engage in their favored method of reporting through leaks under a truly repressive government, such as China's, begging for an action that ultimately will not benefit them. I sometimes wonder if most reporters have ever been taught how to perform critical analysis, since there are so many articles such as this generated. I wonder if the Times and the AP have thought through the consequences of forcing the US to give up control of the Internet. But the answer is almost certainly negative. After all, had they been capable of actually thinking the argument though to its logical conclusion, I doubt they would have gone into journalism- a discipline that is not known for its difficulty. Cross-posted on StoneHeads.