Breaking: Global Authoritarians Push for Internet Controls

The Internet has remained as free and open as it has because its basic infrastructure has been controlled by an independent entity called the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), based in the United States. However, the United Nations would like to change all that, and soon. Earlier this month, the United Nations International Telecommunications Union treaty conference took place in Dubai. On the agenda: wresting control of the Internet. A cadre of authoritarian governments sought greater ease with which to spy on citizens, restrict online content, and impose “fees” (taxes and penalties) on companies whose sites are accessed overseas.

Both chambers of Congress unanimously expressed their opposition to the treaty. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)] said, “There is not only bipartisan, but bicameral support underlying this resolution, and there is complete support across the Executive Branch of our government… In other words, the United States of America is totally unified on this issue of an open structure, a multi-stakeholder approach that has guided the Internet over the last two decades.

Can the UN Really Get Control of Your Internet Connection?

Instead of completely disassociating itself from the whole effort to forge global controls on the Internet, the Obama Administration engaged the conference and focused on particular objections. State Department officials who insist they are opposed to UN control of the Internet sent a delegation to try to protect Google, Facebook, and other Internet titans from the most egregious of the proposed international controls. What sorts of UN controls would the Administration be okay with? They won’t exactly say. But domestically, they’ve tried to ram the privacy-gutting bills SOPA and PIPA into law (aimed at protecting the copyrights of Hollywood); they’ve pushed for an Internet “kill switch”); and they’ve championed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

When CISPA, which would give the feds backdoor wiretaps into our personal communications, failed to clear the Senate, President Obama threatened to issue an executive order to accomplish some of the law’s objectives. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group, CISPA contains “sweeping language that would give companies and the government new powers to monitor and censor communications for copyright infringement. It could also be a powerful weapon to use against whistleblower websites like WikiLeaks.”

Will You Soon Receive a Government-Issued Online ID?

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department is discreetly organizing a campaign to create a unique Internet ID for all Americans. Operating under the guise of protecting us from fraud and online identity theft, the federal government wants to impose an entire, centralized, online identity ecosystem. Participation in such a system would purportedly be voluntary – at least at first. So be prepared to exercise your right to opt out. In general, the fewer identities you create for yourself online, the less of an electronic footprint you’ll leave for snoops, identity thieves, and government agents to track. You can be sure we will keep you posted as additional developments unfold.