Business, Economics and Jobs

US refuses to hand over Internet control to UN


The organizers of a group called Rail Girls believe the internet must "democratize" to develop.


Frederic J. Brown

The US response to international calls to cede control of the Internet? Absolutely not. 

Although the Internet is a world-wide phenomenon, primary control of the network belongs to a series of private, non-profit corporations in the US, according to Wired. 

More from GlobalPost: UN internet treaty could imperil online freedom 

Some international players feel the US should cede control of the network to the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union and other international organizations, says Wired, to alleviate America's unequal power over the fate of our generation's most seminal technology. 

The US House of Representatives thinks otherwise, reported PC World: they voted 414 to 0 on a resolution that would tell the ITU it is the "consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control."

The December 2012 UN World Conference on International Telecommunications is coming up, and the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty is due for review and revision. The ITR was last negotiated in Melbourne, Australia in 1988, according to the WCIT website — and considering the rapid pace of change in technology in the ensuing 24 years, are likely ripe for an over haul. 

Why does all this matter to the average Internet user?

According to L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal, the open, relatively unregulated Internet we've grown accustomed to could be at stake when the WCIT meets. It could also give authoritarian regimes — like China — considerably more control over how the Internet is used on the global stage. 

Internet vigilantes Jerry Brito and Eli Dourado, researchers at Virginia's George Mason University, have put together the WCITLeaks website, which gathers unreleased (but not classified) information about possible changes to international telecommunications regulations. 

"These proposals show that many ITU member states want to use international agreements to regulate the Internet by crowding out bottom-up institutions, imposing charges for international communication, and controlling the content that consumers can access online," Dourado told the Wall Street Journal.