THE WORLD has a problem. Its biggest communication tool is controlled by the most powerful superpower.
There is an argument, usually made by Americans, that this is not such a bother. The Americans invented the thing, and besides the Internet is running OK.
However the fact the US military splashed out cash to develop the Internet does not mean that it has the right to run it. It has grown bigger than the US military’s design and it has been developed to its current state by an international effort.
Once an invention gets universal adoption, it is not any single country’s property. The Interweb was developed from telephone technology. We don’t see a regulatory body set up by the United States trying to control the telephone network phone numbers in another country, so why is the Internet so different?
Already developing countries are miffed that the West has nicked all the IP addresses making their roll outs difficult and there are other control problems which the US does not really want to face.
America is a nation with an insular majority that is easily hijacked by minorities or companies with cash to buy politicians. Currently the religious right in the US has a scary amount of power. They are even trying to kick teaching evolution out of schools because they don’t think the Bible approves of it.
This would be OK if they only tortured the people who voted for them. But with control of the Internet these groups can leverage the US government to spread their loony message throughout the world. We have already seen how 30 or so letters from a single right wing Christian group to a US government agency has stopped the .xxx domain dead in its tracks.
The question is, why should people in Europe have to accept moral standards imposed on them by the US which seems to get its knickers in a twist about wardrobe failures of stars during football matches.
ICANN has the power to de-register any site the US government does not like. It can also switch off any country’s link to the Interweb by denying it access to the DNS servers.
The US has not ever used this power, but that does not mean that it will not. But the imperialist arrogance used by Ambassador David Gross, the US coordinator for international communications and information policy at the State Department, here, shows the US does not care what the rest of the world thinks.
However, the world has a good point. There is also a real danger that it will tell the US that it wants its own Internet and will quickly build one. The Chinese have already done that and it is only a matter of time before the Europeans follow suit.
This will damage the universal power of the Internet to connect nations and information. Humanity will be the big loser.
One problem is the US has a beef with the UN. It has told its citizens that the entire institution is corrupt and that they ought not to want such a body running the Internet. It is true the UN has problems, mostly caused by the US not taking an active interest in it, but it is no less corrupt than the US government.
Ask an American whether he or she trusts the UN and they would likely say ‘no’. Ask them if they trust the Government and politicians and they would say ‘hell no’.
No one says the obvious here. You set up an independent international body formed by representatives from the world governments to run the Internet. That way there is no discredited UN, no US imperialism or politics, just a technology body in charge of running an important tool for humanity’s development.
© 2005 Breakthrough Publishing Ltd.