UNIRC (United Nations Internet Regulatory Commission)

Wall Street Journal – Robert McDowell – On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year’s end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish “international control over the Internet” through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices.

If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the Internet’s flourishing regime, which has been in place since 1988. That year, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications. This insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly became the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.

Since the Net’s inception, engineers, academics, user groups and others have convened in bottom-up nongovernmental organizations to keep it operating and thriving through what is known as a “multi-stakeholder” governance model. This consensus-driven private-sector approach has been the key to the Net’s phenomenal success.

In 1995, shortly after it was privatized, only 16 million people used the Internet world-wide. By 2011, more than two billion were online—and that number is growing by as much as half a million every day. This explosive growth is the direct result of governments generally keeping their hands off the Internet sphere.

Net access, especially through mobile devices, is improving the human condition more quickly—and more fundamentally—than any other technology in history. Nowhere is this more true than in the developing world, where unfettered Internet technologies are expanding economies and raising living standards.

Farmers who live far from markets are now able to find buyers for their crops through their Internet-connected mobile devices without assuming the risks and expenses of traveling with their goods. Worried parents are able to go online to locate medicine for their sick children. And proponents of political freedom are better able to share information and organize support to break down the walls of tyranny.

The Internet has also been a net job creator. A recent McKinsey study found that for every job disrupted by Internet connectivity, 2.6 new jobs are created. It is no coincidence that these wonderful developments blossomed as the Internet migrated further away from government control.

Today, however, Russia, China and their allies within the 193 member states of the ITU want to renegotiate the 1988 treaty to expand its reach into previously unregulated areas. Reading even a partial list of proposals that could be codified into international law next December at a conference in Dubai is chilling:

• Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control;

Allow foreign phone companies to charge fees for “international” Internet traffic, perhaps even on a “per-click” basis for certain Web destinations, with the goal of generating revenue for state-owned phone companies and government treasuries;

Impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates, terms and conditions for currently unregulated traffic-swapping agreements known as “peering.”

• Establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder Internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that coordinates the .com and .org Web addresses of the world;

• Subsume under intergovernmental control many functions of the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder groups that establish the engineering and technical standards that allow the Internet to work;

• Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.

Many countries in the developing world, including India and Brazil, are particularly intrigued by these ideas. Even though Internet-based technologies are improving billions of lives everywhere, some governments feel excluded and want more control.

And let’s face it, strong-arm regimes are threatened by popular outcries for political freedom that are empowered by unfettered Internet connectivity. They have formed impressive coalitions, and their efforts have progressed significantly.

Merely saying “no” to any changes to the current structure of Internet governance is likely to be a losing proposition. A more successful strategy would be for proponents of Internet freedom and prosperity within every nation to encourage a dialogue among all interested parties, including governments and the ITU, to broaden the multi-stakeholder umbrella with the goal of reaching consensus to address reasonable concerns. As part of this conversation, we should underscore the tremendous benefits that the Internet has yielded for the developing world through the multi-stakeholder model.

Upending this model with a new regulatory treaty is likely to partition the Internet as some countries would inevitably choose to opt out. A balkanized Internet would be devastating to global free trade and national sovereignty. It would impair Internet growth most severely in the developing world but also globally as technologists are forced to seek bureaucratic permission to innovate and invest. This would also undermine the proliferation of new cross-border technologies, such as cloud computing.

A top-down, centralized, international regulatory overlay is antithetical to the architecture of the Net, which is a global network of networks without borders. No government, let alone an intergovernmental body, can make engineering and economic decisions in lightning-fast Internet time. Productivity, rising living standards and the spread of freedom everywhere, but especially in the developing world, would grind to a halt as engineering and business decisions become politically paralyzed within a global regulatory body.

Any attempts to expand intergovernmental powers over the Internet—no matter how incremental or seemingly innocuous—should be turned back. Modernization and reform can be constructive, but not if the end result is a new global bureaucracy that departs from the multi-stakeholder model. Enlightened nations should draw a line in the sand against new regulations while welcoming reform that could include a nonregulatory role for the ITU.

Pro-regulation forces are, thus far, much more energized and organized than those who favor the multi-stakeholder approach. Regulation proponents only need to secure a simple majority of the 193 member states to codify their radical and counterproductive agenda. Unlike the U.N. Security Council, no country can wield a veto in ITU proceedings. With this in mind, some estimate that approximately 90 countries could be supporting intergovernmental Net regulation—a mere seven short of a majority.

While precious time ticks away, the U.S. has not named a leader for the treaty negotiation. We must awake from our slumber and engage before it is too late. Not only do these developments have the potential to affect the daily lives of all Americans, they also threaten freedom and prosperity across the globe.

14 Comments

  1. Google To Hackers: “Bring It”

    For the last three years, Google’s Chrome browser has left the world’s premiere hacking competition unscathed, even as Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari have all been taken down by the assembled security researchers. So this year, Google is offering hackers a million reasons to re-focus their efforts.

    Google announced Monday evening that it’s offering up to a million dollars in rewards at the annual Pwn2Own hacking contest, which takes place next week at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver. Hackers don’t necessarily need to target Chrome to win a chunk of that money: Google is paying $20,000 to any participant who can exploit hackable bugs in Windows, Flash, or a device driver, security problems that would affect users of all browsers. But for hacks that include flaws specific to Chrome, Google will pay $40,000 each, and for those that exploit only bugs in Chrome, the company will shell out $60,000, up to its million dollar limit.

    In fact, Google’s rewards may end up dwarfing those offered by the contest’s official organizers, the Hewlett-Packard-owned Zero Day Initiative. HP plans to offer $60,000 to the first place winner, $35,000 to the second, and $15,000 to the third place contestant, using a point system to determine those placements.

    And why is Google willing to pay seven figures to see its browser taken apart in public? Because, the company explains in a blog post, the annual hacking contest offers a chance to test Chrome’s mettle against some of the world’s most innovative hackers in a setting where any new flaws can be identified and patched. In return for its rewards, Google demands any winning researcher submit the details of the exploited flaws to its security team, a condition that ZDI doesn’t impose on the winning hackers. ”Not only can we fix the bugs, but by studying the vulnerability and exploit techniques we can enhance our mitigations, automated testing, and sandboxing,” Chrome security engineers Chris Evans and Justin Schuh write. “This enables us to better protect our users.”

    Pwn2Own isn’t the only time researchers can be paid for digging up security flaws in Chrome. Like other companies including Mozilla and Facebook, Google offers “bug bounties” to researchers, and its flaw-buying program has given out more than $300,000 in payments over the last two years.

    Since Chrome first appeared as a target in the Pwn2Own contest in 2009, participating hackers haven’t even tried to exploit the browser, focusing instead on the array of other software and devices laid out as the contest’s victims. Because security exploits are usually developed well ahead of the contest, that’s a sign that none of the researchers could find a chink in Chrome’s armor–its security features include sandboxing, which limits the access of an exploit to the rest of a user’s PC and “just-in-time hardening” that prevents javascript on websites from executing commands on the user’s machine.

    Even when Google offered an extra $20,000 to anyone who could hack its browsers last year, no one took up the challenge. That result provides great marketing fodder, but Google says it’s more eager to expose bugs in its code–hence this year’s massive payouts. “While we’re proud of Chrome’s leading track record in past competitions, the fact is that not receiving exploits means that it’s harder to learn and improve,” Evans and Schuh write. “To maximize our chances of receiving exploits this year, we’ve upped the ante.”

    You know this whole internet freedom thing is a double edged sword.

    While the US Govt’s intention to retain control over the internet may be based on different criteria than nations that want to control political speech, they are far from being based on what’s best for US citizens.

    The govt built the original backbone, but private industry carries the vast majority of current traffic. Now they both see it more as a revenue generator than a personal freedom.

    But what I want to know is why I’m NOT seeing a bunch of dead hacker bodies floating down the world’s rivers. The way they are disrupting commerce and global intelligence activities should leave them with more to fear than their local law enforcement. Hacking needs to become a much more dangerous hobby than it is, and there should be no safe havens inside the US or outside. And thats a double edge sword as well ….. but I’d have no problem if the Chinese sent in a team to take out my neighbor’s 14 year old kid, if he was thinking he was disrupting their interests from the safety of his Canadian proxy server.

    Its getting out of hand. Getting caught maliciously hacking should be same as stepping on a land mine.

  2. didn’t you mean to ask why you’re NOT seeing a bunch of dead hacker bodies floating down the world’s rivers?

    your example of internet freedom is a double edged example. or maybe it is just single edged, whichever. while the chinese may indeed send in a team to take out your neighbor’s kid, who’s going to go after the chinese gov’t. also, 4 years ago when the main cable connecting china to the internet was cut, accidentally i’m sure, the spam dropped by 80% during repairs.

    Its getting out of hand. Getting caught maliciously hacking should be same as stepping on a land mine.

    a guy who comes into my store is in the russian mafia.
    yes, in tulsa, oklahoma.
    he’s got 24 cars.
    now he has your e-mail.

  3. didn’t you mean to ask why you’re NOT seeing a bunch of dead hacker bodies floating down the world’s rivers?

    There, I Fixed It.

    Commenting at work is always a bitch. That comment took over an hour to write. By the time I wrote the last part I had forgotten the first part.

    The basic impetus was the anonymous group publishing hacked Stratfor e-mails. You would think somewhere in that customer base would be someone who is both pissed off and has the resources to find and punish the individuals responsible, and is not encumbered by legalities.

    Send a message to the leftist hacking community that the game is on.

  4. You have a lot of interesting people coming into your store.

    How often do you have to throw down with armed ones pointing bad things at you?

  5. How often do you have to throw down with armed ones pointing bad things at you?

    i haven’t. knock on wood. LL taps side of head.
    what i’ve seen so far, i’m more afraid of kiddie crime than guys like him.
    if you have seen the movie 2012 you have heard his voice. the russian billionaire that owns the big plane with all the cars. sounds just like him. looks like timothy mcveigh. keeps telling me if my car needs to be worked on he has a guy who can do it.
    eeeeeeyyyyeeeeeee
    don’t
    think
    so.

  6. the reason i posted this article is not only to do with the internet, but the UN.
    has anyone read Kyoto?
    it has got to be the most mind numbing piece of shit ever written, save the UN charter itself.
    as i was reading this internet article i kept thinking Kyoto.
    all Kyoto is, is a formula for determining how much industrialized nations pay to those who live in grass huts and wouldn’t know what to do with the money when they got it. you know, redistribution of wealth. you ever seen the Kyoto? it looks like the houston phone directory. for all it is supposed to do, it only needs to be two pages long. double spaced.
    all these dipshits are doing is applying the climate science of kyoto to the internet. intended to have the same effect. redistribution of wealth. i don’t think the proxy servers will be set up in canada though.
    while reading this article i kept thinking back to Kyoto, and why china and india are exempt. and then again to this article, and how they would apply their version of logic to the internet.
    and it’s happening right now.

  7. The MSM serves the corrupt Government and progresive (Marxist). The free internet will foster dissidnece, uprisings, riot and even revolution. It has to be controlled at all costs. Just leave the porno.

  8. DONT blame the hackers cuello rojo el tejano (CRT), these lameass companies you give your credit card numbers and such to, they are quiet prepared to take your money but not even close to being responsible for your information. And they do sometimes pay dearly -- Kevin Mitnick spent 5 years in custody for nonmalicious acts in which he had no intention of even profiting.
    ANd dont be blaming the russians — we have enough enemies as it is. Because of our ignorant foreign policies we’ve driven even India into Russia’s camp, because of our wonderful friendship with China, who as we speak is clamping down on free speech and fairly widespread democracy movements. Without freedom of religion and freedom of speech, countries like China and all the Muslim countries do not deserve UN membership and not one penny of US funds via World Bank IMF or otherwise. Membership could be used as a tool to promote these universal ideals found in the US constitution. Instead the opposite has happened; Default UN membership or SC seat via stolen US nuclear technology, leads to these third world dictatorships having more power than they deserve. Look at Afghanistan. ALmost all the roads and infrastructure was built by Amercians or Brits. Some help from the Japs. And since stymie has already surrendered, any US gains there in the past 11 years seems doubtful.
    But in case of you havent noticed Obama is a Trotskyite. Plain and simple. Its all fubar.

  9. LulzSec brought down by own leader

    EXCLUSIVE: Law enforcement agents on two continents swooped in on top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec early this morning, and acting largely on evidence gathered by the organization’s brazen leader — who sources say has been secretly working for the government for months — arrested three and charged two more with conspiracy.

    Charges against four of the five were based on a conspiracy case filed in New York federal court, FoxNews.com has learned. An indictment charging the suspects, who include two men from Great Britain, two from Ireland and an American in Chicago, is expected to be unsealed Tuesday morning in the Southern District of New York.

    “This is devastating to the organization,” said an FBI official involved with the investigation. “We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.”

    SUMMARY

    Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka “Sabu,” pleaded guilty to the following charges on Aug. 15, 2011:

    COUNT ONE: Conspiracy to Engage in Computer Hacking—Anonymous
    COUNT TWO: Conspiracy to Engage in Computer Hacking—Internet Feds
    COUNT THREE: Conspiracy to Engage in Computer Hacking—LulzSec
    COUNT FOUR: Computer Hacking—Hack of HBGary
    COUNT FIVE: Computer Hacking—Hack of Fox
    COUNT SIX: Computer hacking—Hack of Sony Pictures
    COUNT SEVEN: Computer Hacking—Hack of PBS
    COUNT EIGHT: Computer Hacking—Hack of Infraguard-Atlanta
    COUNT NINE: Computer Hacking in Furtherance of Fraud
    COUNT TEN: Conspiracy to Commit Access Device Fraud
    COUNT ELEVEN: Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud
    COUNT TWELVE: Aggravated Identity Theft

    The offshoot of the loose network of hackers, Anonymous, believed to have caused billions of dollars in damage to governments, international banks and corporations, was allegedly led by a shadowy figure FoxNews.com has identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur. Working under the Internet alias “Sabu,” the unemployed, 28-year-old father of two allegedly commanded a loosely organized, international team of perhaps thousands of hackers from his nerve center in a public housing project on New York’s Lower East Side. After the FBI unmasked Monsegur last June, he became a cooperating witness, sources told FoxNews.com.

    “They caught him and he was secretly arrested and now works for the FBI,” a source close to Sabu told FoxNews.com.

    Monsegur pleaded guilty Aug. 15 to 12 hacking-related charges and information documenting his admissions was unsealed in Southern District Court on Tuesday.

    As a result of Monsegur’s cooperation, which was confirmed by numerous senior-level officials, the remaining top-ranking members of LulzSec were arrested or hit with additional charges Tuesday morning. The five charged in the LulzSec conspiracy indictment expected to be unsealed were identified by sources as: Ryan Ackroyd, aka “Kayla” and Jake Davis, aka “Topiary,” both of London; Darren Martyn, aka “pwnsauce” and Donncha O’Cearrbhail, aka “palladium,” both of Ireland; and Jeremy Hammond aka “Anarchaos,” of Chicago.

    Hammond was arrested on access device fraud and hacking charges and is believed to have been the main person behind the devastating December hack on Stratfor,
    a private company that provides geopolitical analysis to governments and others. Millions of emails were stolen and then published on Wikileaks; credit card numbers and other confidential information were also stolen, law enforcement sources told FoxNews.com.

    The sources said Hammond will be charged in a separate indictment, and they described him as a member of Anonymous.

    The others are all suspected members of LulzSec, the group that has wreaked havoc on U.S. and foreign government agencies, including the CIA and FBI, numerous defense contractors, financial and governmental entities and corporations including Fox and Sony.

    Ackroyd, who is suspected of using the online handle “Kayla,” is alleged to be Monsegur’s top deputy. Among other things, Kayla identified vulnerabilities in the U.S. Senate’s computer systems and passed the information on to Sabu. Kayla was expected to be taken into custody on Tuesday.

    A spokeswoman for the Southern District and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined comment.

    Monsegur’s attorney did not return FoxNews.com’s repeated requests for comment.

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