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Wed, 23 Nov 2011

This is just a quick update to yesterday's post. According to Ars Technica,

Last Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution ahead of a forthcoming summit between Europe and the United States. It included a section on "the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names."

That provision was added at the urging of the civil liberties organization European Digital Rights (EDRi). In a presentation to the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee, EDRi's Joe McNamee noted that "the United States has, up until recently, never sought to exploit its theoretical jurisdiction over the companies and infrastructure that are at the core of the Internet."

The Internet was created in the US, and as the article goes on to note, key pieces of the Internet's infrastructure are based in the US, such as ICANN, the company that coordinates domain name assignments, many key DNS root servers, and the registries for .com, .org, and other popular TLDs. Up to now, nobody has really had a problem with this, because the US has been careful not to abuse its privileged position. If our lawmakers want to change that, and squander our position by abusing it, they're going the right way about it. It's ironic that we now have the European Union, whose Constitution weighs in at more than 350 pages (more than double that if the "Protocols and Annexes" and "Declarations" are included) and has to be delivered as PDFs, trying to tell the United States, whose Constitution can fit in a single reasonably sized HTML page (or two such if the Amendments are included--what extravagance!), how something as simple as protecting freedom of communication and civil liberties is supposed to work. But so it is.

I suppose one could argue that, in the long run, it would be better for the Internet's infrastructure to come under the control of an international body that was not controlled by any single country's government. In theory that would be a good argument. The problem with it is that all our evidence about such bodies shows that they do not work. The United Nations was supposed to end war and ensure human rights for everyone. As Dr. Phil would say, how's that workin' out for ya? As much as I complain about the US government, I still think that, up to now, its stewardship of the Internet has served the Internet better than any possible alternative, and that ending that stewardship would be a turn for the worse. I really hope it doesn't come to that.

Posted at 20:56   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
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