Putting the United Nations in charge of the Internet is the best idea ever

Putting the United Nations in charge of the Internet is the best idea ever

Summary: When I'm stumped by geopolitical challenges and I ask myself "What organization can really get the job done?" my answer is always "The United Nations."

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TOPICS: Browser
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When I heard that the UN is trying to take over administration of the Internet, I could barely contain my joy.

What a fantastic idea.

Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, has written a New York Times op-ed opposing UN involvement in the internet. This guy must not know very much about the Internet. I mean, there are a hundred good reasons why the UN is the best possible body to supervise the Internet.

Let's look at just the top five, shall we?

Putting the United Nations in charge of the Internet is the best idea ever1. The UN represents the best democratic, pro-free-speech traditions

Many member nations are in favor of UN control of the internet. Two of the most enthusiastic supporters of the plan are China and Russia.

The great thing about putting China and Russia in charge of the Internet is that it's a virtual guarantee that the free-speech traditions of the Internet will be respected. The citizens of China and Russia have come to know their governments as staunch protectors of free expression, so it's only logical to let them regulate the Internet everywhere.

2. We really need more bodies regulating the Internet

Right now, the governance of the Internet is based upon a "multi-stakeholder" model, with seven non-governmental organizations, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), having the most responsibility for top-level decisions.

Let's face it, seven organizations -- non-governmental, no less -- just won't do.

We need at least 30, and the apparatus of the UN is poised to provide those 23 additional layers of bureaucracy almost overnight. Nobody can create committees and commissions with the speed of the UN. The UN can also ensure that, under the auspices of the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU), each of these 30 organizations can do nothing more than issue resolutions subject to veto by China and Russia.

3. The UN is a highly effective, efficient organization

When I'm stumped by geopolitical challenges and I ask myself "What organization can really get the job done?" my answer is always "The United Nations."

The UN is a take-charge, no-nonsense, cut-through-the-red-tape body that accomplishes its goals as quickly as possible and for the least possible amount of money.

Why, just recently, there was a bloody government crackdown on unrest in Syria. The UN swung into action and tried to issue a resolution. If only that resolution had been passed, Syria would have listened carefully and respectfully.

Unfortunately, the resolution was vetoed by China and Russia.

4. There should never be anything important that governments don't control

The real problem with the current structure of Internet governance is that there are no governments involved, not even the government of North Korea.

As we all know, it's not possible to accomplish anything without multilateral government intervention. Without the UN's helping hand, how could humankind have invented Dropbox, Chia Pets, or the wheel?

Without ongoing UN involvement, how will China be able to veto the creation of .tibet domains?

5. The Internet will work so much better with the UN controlling it

My Internet connection has been slow these past few weeks. I'm confident that the UN can fix the problem.

My friends in IT tell me that, thanks to the latest Russian technology, it is now possible to achieve speeds of more than 300 baud over regular telephone lines using innovative devices known as "acoustic couplers."

This hardware is so efficient it can transfer data at speeds such that you can entirely fill an 8-inch floppy disc in a matter of hours. If only the UN had been put in charge of the internet 20 years ago, we could be at 1,200 baud today.

Topic: Browser

Steven Shaw

About Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm, and is now the online community managergfor eGullet.org and the Director of New Media Studies at thegInternational Culinary Center.

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28 comments
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  • I admit, you had me going.

    You had me facepalming until #5 and I realized what you were doing, so kudos on you being able to stir me into a false rage. That's what I get for skimming.
    Aerowind
  • There are no plans in Russia to control the internet

    Even the widely discussed in UK idea of banning Twitter and Facebook during riots was openly declined in Russia.

    Also, Syria is bad example. There are atrocities there which are not reported by the Western media at all. The society always gets manipulated as much as needed for NATO to empty their old soon-to-expire Tomahawk ammunitions, along the way killing tens of innocent people, and not only the bad guys and the "bad" guys.

    So there were real reasons why that Syria resolution was vetoed. And the urge for Syria's president to step down would not have worked any way.
    DDERSSS
    • LOL! Nice opinion.

      And yes, you wrote your opinion. It's far from factual, but hey, opinions are allowed.
      William Farrel
    • Out of idle curiosity...

      ...who are your sources?
      John L. Ries
  • Steven Shaw

    Why is there no bio on this author? Nowadays, it seems "Between the Lines" mostly means anybody gets to write here, no matter their soap box or expertise. It's been a long time since you could look at BTL and assume that this was going to be the top dogs who had earned their stay.
    WebSiteManager
    • I'd grade you...

      ...but I think you're serious. Carefully reread the article. Shaw is very definitely kidding.
      John L. Ries
      • I don't think...

        that's what he meant. I think he just hasn't seen very much of Shaw on BTL yet.
        jlm123hi
  • thanks, but no thanks

    What has the UN accomplished to call it 'highly effective / efficient organization'? The only exemple you give is a resolution that never passed and thus did nothing.

    Leave my internet alone.
    Jean-Pierre-
    • Read "Between the Lines"

      It's a satire.
      Aerowind
  • The Author is being Facetious

    The Author is being Facetious.
    whorider
  • LOL @ those who took this seriously

    Really? You didn't see this is all tongue-in-cheek?
    oldCoderException
    • Considering there are more than a few journalists who

      actually DO think the U.N. is the path to Utopia, it's understandable to take the author's headline at face value. I did and was getting all ready to shake my head at yet more useful idiot-ism on display. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
      baggins_z
    • A zealot with a sense of humor...

      ...is a contradiction in terms.

      Seriously, a lot of the extremist propaganda I've read looks like parody, but it's still taken very seriously by those who are into it.
      John L. Ries
  • I would like to propose also moving nato/us military and us/eu government

    and finance under un control. They do such a bang up job putting butchers/mass murders on and at the head of human rights commissions, embezzling billions in economic relief, and sending in peace keepers to defend and rape oppressed peoples. On the plus side they've accomplished nothing in 60 years but provided a nice forum for madmen like gaddafi and ahmadinejad to rant and it's only wasted billions that could have actually helped people in need instead of line corrupt pigs pockets. On the truly sad side the obamunist regime is actually right now trying to ram through turning us naval sovereignty over to the un and and gave a medal of honor to a devout marxist/leninist. effing A, our founding fathers are spinning in their graves.
    Johnny Vegas
    • You just had to do it

      A. UN was created after (mostly) US design in San Francisco
      B. Rapes do happen under the watch of peace keepers or with their participation, Same happens with US military personnel in US bases. Your point?
      C. Obama's "regime" (elected by the people, unlike GW Bush) is turning US naval sov. to UN? What are you smoking? It is pretty strong.
      D. Could you please give a definition of marxist? I am sure in your tiny tee-P pea sized brain there is skewed definition that says- "Anyone who does not agree with me".
      E. What are you doing under this article, bitching and whining about Obama? Find yourself a political forum to troll under.
      kirovs@...
  • #4 is incorrect, the US Government *does* control the Internet

    Though it has been mostly hands-off for the last decade, the US Government still exercises immense control over the internet. ICANN takes a lot of marching orders from the US on policy matters including domain name dispute policies that favor US companies, and the below-the-covers agreements which make backbone monitoring of international traffic possible for the NSA and CIA.

    But the point of the author is well taken: there is no guarantee that the UN would do anything different or better.
    terry flores
    • Could you show us some of those

      [i]below-the-covers agreements which make backbone monitoring of international traffic possible for the NSA and CIA.[/i]

      That's the great thing about a statement like that - you don't have to prove it as you can always say "that's classified, so how the heck would I be able to get my hands on proof like that? They would kill me if I exposed them".
      William Farrel
      • Only the details are secret.

        [url]http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1[/url]

        For the record, NSA denies everything but the fact that the site exists ...
        terry flores
  • Nice. You had me going there for a minute.

    Good thing I read the article before commenting.
    CPPCrispy
  • This would be a really funny parody if only...

    ...there weren't so many people who actually think the UN running the internet would be a good idea. It truly frightened me when my son came home from college and quoted his PolySci prof, "The UN taking over management of the internet is the best possible answer to the great digital divide. This will ensure that everyone has equal access and an equal say. Not just the rich western nations!!"
    My son isn't doing very well in PolySci, he keeps laughing when his prof makes statements like that.
    Scubajrr