A new effort to hand control over the Internet to the United Nations is underway as oppressive regimes such as the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China clamor for more censorship and regulation of the World Wide Web.
The Obama administration has remained silent so far, having failed to even select a leader to defend U.S. interests at upcoming talks on the subject. But critics of the global move are already striking back, warning that transferring Internet governance to the UN would be a massive blow to freedom and prosperity for the whole planet.
Today, the online world is largely governed and regulated by a decentralized network of non-profit groups, most of which are based in America where the Internet was born. And private-sector interests — companies such as Google, Facebook, and others — still dominate the web at present.
The “multi-stakeholder” approach, as it is known, has kept the Internet free in most of the world for over a decade while revolutionizing business, information, communications, and even civilization itself. But all of that could change soon, at least if despots of various varieties — from communists in Beijing to Islamists in Tehran — get their way.
Later this month in Geneva, Switzerland, governments will gather to begin negotiations on a potential treaty that could crush the free flow of information online, according to experts. The diplomatic process will help lay the foundation for the upcoming “World Conference on International Telecommunications” in Dubai at the end of the year.
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