Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How Not to Run the Internet

Courtesy of Friends of Cuban Libraries, this November 18th article from ZDNet makes it abundantly clear why retaining US control of the Internet is a necessity:

Cuba, Iran and African governments lashed out at the U.S. government this week, charging that the Internet permits too much free speech and that the way it is managed must be reformed immediately.

The U.S. and other Western nations "insist on being world policemen on the management of the Internet," Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who has been the country's leader since 1987, said at a United Nations information society summit here.

"Those who have supported nihilistic and disorderly freedom of expression are beginning to see the fruits" of their efforts, Mugabe said, adding that Zimbabwe will be "challenging the bully-boy mentality that has driven the unipolar world."

This is the same Robert Mugabe who has driven his country to the brink of famine through his Stalinist economic policies, only to then be invited to speak recently at a UN conference on hunger. Not an auspicious omen, to say the least.

Anyway, It's not just Comrade Mugabe, as the representative of Cuba's Maximum Leader had an equally enlightening contribution to make:

"Fidel Castro, the unflinching promoter of the use of new technologies," believes "it is necessary to create a multinational democratic (institution) which administers this network of networks," said the WSIS delegate from Cuba.

In Cuba, only people with government permission can access the Internet, owning computer equipment is prohibited, and online writers have been imprisoned, according to Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based free speech watchdog group.

Finally, let's see what Iran's delegate had to say:

Too often, the Internet is used for the "propagation of falsehoods," said Mohammad Soleymani, Iran's minister of communication and information technology.

Soleymani called for the elimination of the California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)--which approves new top-level domain names--in favor of United Nations control.

"Changing the current Internet governance to a participatory, legitimate and accountable system under an international authority is imperative," he said.

Somehow I suspect that what Mr. Soleymani would consider to be "a participatory, legitimate and accountable system" is drastically different from how most people would define that concept.


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