U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s proposal about foreign governments regulating the Internet via the United Nations should be taken very seriously. Internet freedom and privacy are under undeniable threat. Walden’s idea is to make it clear that U.S. Internet policy is firmly behind freedom.
If China gets its way, it could be tracking you through your Internet access.
If Russia gets its way, it would to swallow up the Internet’s freedom with regulation.
Other countries have proposed a kind of international tax for clicking on websites, such as Google, Facebook or Netflix, to fund their government-owned telecommunication companies.
Those foreign governments have begun to get their way. The World Conference on International Telecommunications recently voted 89-55 to hand new control for Internet regulation to the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations. The United States voted against it, but there is no veto in ITU proceedings.
The authority granted gives the ITU new powers to police spam, which, of course, doesn’t sound like a bad thing. But that new authority can easily be used as cover by countries to block the free flow of information under the pretext of spam or network congestion.
The countries won’t stop until they get more control and more taxation.
Much of the focus of China and Russia has been on regulation and registration of IP addresses. Those are the unique addresses that devices use to connect to the Internet — sort of like the address for a building. Such information could easily be used to stifle communication, control business or to track dissidents.
Walden, an Oregon Republican, won’t kill those efforts with his proposed bill. What it would do is send a united U.S. message in the battle of ideas over the Internet’s future.