If you thought SOPA was a onetime threat to the freedom of the internet that has now passed, think again! SOPA lost steam in the US Congress following worldwide protests by web users supported by the big internet giants Google and Microsoft. Now a new threat is emerging in the form of an international treaty where the UN wants to take control of the DNS registration and all other ICANN activities through International Telecommunication Union [ITU] a UN body. In September 2009 after ten years of concentrated effort ICANN was able to get independence as an autonomous non- profit, free from the control of the US Department of Commerce.
That autonomy could soon be lost. The UN proposal to govern the internet will go on floor for voting by representatives of 193 nations when they meet in Dubai in December 2012. It could bring the autonomous body ICANN under UN regulatory control. The moves are supported by mobile companies who want control over revenue and the nations who want control over people, and is opposed by web giants.
At the recently concluded Barcelona Mobile Congress 2012 Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt warned against such a move by the UN to regulate the World Wide Web.”That would be a disaster… To some, the openness and interoperability is one of the greatest achievements of mankind in our lifetime. Do not give that up easily. You will regret it. You will hate it, because all of a sudden all that freedom, all that flexibility, you’ll find it shipped away for one good reason after another,” Schmidt said. “I cannot be more emphatic. Be very, very careful about moves which seem logical, but have the effect of balkanizing the internet,” he added, urging everyone to strongly resist the moves.
The five main proposals of the UN resolution is to:
(i) Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control.
(ii) Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.
(iii) Allow foreign phone companies to charge for international traffic
(iv)Impose mandates for rates and terms and conditions for unregulated traffic swapping such as peering.
(V) Subject to inter-governmental control the non-profit currently managing the DNS registration, names and numbers along with the functions of the internet engineering task force and the internet society that loosely controls the activity on the web.
The treaty looks inevitable given the tacit backing of many Governments struggling to fight cyber crime and unrest. However it is not known whether it will benefit the web user or just add to higher cost and structured compliance both unpopular measures.