ICANN vs. ITU: The Lesser of Two Weasels
Did you notice recently that President Obama announced that his re-election platform includes a plank supporting Internet freedom? So does the GOP platform. And this is all on the heels of the House voting unanimously (with the Senate concurring) that Internet freedom must be preserved. When was the last time the House voted unanimously for anything? When was the last time the House and Senate agreed on anything?
But why such solidarity amidst all the animus that clogs the wheels of progress in Washington? Do our presidential candidates and Congress really believe in Internet freedom with all the risks and warts it brings with it? If so, then why are they constantly trying to pass legislation to regulate it, tax it, and censor it? Are they schizophrenic? After all, they can’t have it both ways. In fact, there’s really not a whole lot they can do about it in the long run anyway as more and more people become empowered and countries like Ecuador give asylum to international fugitives like Julian Assange. So what are our politicians so afraid of?
The answer is Russia, Iran, and China. That’s the key trio in a group of misfit countries that are not enamored with all the freedom empowered netizens enjoy or how they are increasingly changing the world. So these three stooges have joined together and urged that the United Nations, through the International Telecommunications Union, take over administration of the Internet from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the current caretaker of the domain name system. Right now, they’re plotting how to orchestrate that change of control at the December ITU meeting in Dubai. Problem is, today the United States still controls the Internet’s root server and will never cede such control. Hence a political nightmare for the United States and the odd solidarity among every U.S. politician and political party that wanders the alleys and backrooms of Washington. Politics makes strange bedfellows, indeed.
As any reader of my blogs knows, I am no fan of ICANN. But despite all its failures and flops, an alternative like the ITU would be a disaster. So the U.S. Administration and Congress need to make sure ICANN succeeds and does not allow corruption, conflicts of interest, and greed within its operations to open the door to the ITU and their suppressive supporters at the UN. That leaves us with the Hopson’s Choice of rooting for ICANN, the lesser of two evils or, as my partner Joe suggested, the lesser of two weasels.
We Expert Doug Wood