United Nations Internet Power Grab vs Declaration of Internet Freedom
by DARLENE CASELLA
August 21, 2012
A United Nations ability to restrict the access of American Internet users and bloggers would be in contravention of free speech rights, guaranteed in the First Amendment. However, the United Nations is not bound by the US Constitution. What role will American elected officials play in an Internet power grab by the United Nations?
The United Nations Human Rights Council in July passed a resolution affirming that people have rights to Internet freedom of expression. This is problematic precedent. The definition of freedom varies from country to country. Human Rights Council members China, Congo, Cuba, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Uganda voted for the resolution while censoring their Internet. Responding to the camel's nose under the tent United Nations Internet resolution, an independent amalgamation of more than 100 cyber experts formulated an international Declaration of Internet Freedom, acceptable to free marketers, liberals, Democrats, and Republicans:
Expression: Don't censor the Internet.
Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don't block new technologies, and don't punish innovators for their users' actions.
Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone's ability to control how their data and devices are used.
State censorship is heavy in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Reporters Without Borders (RWB) is a watchdog group for cyber censorship. Delphine Halgand, Washington D.C. Director maintains that countries have filters, blocks, and devices to track cyber dissident for killing and for arrest of bloggers. RWB maintains a list of countries that are "Internet Enemies". Limited filtering is used in France and Germany regarding Nazism or Holocaust denial. Child pornography is blocked in many countries.
Arab Spring demonstrated the power of Internet and mobile technologies which were used to organize and spread protest information. They were visible to the world with Face Book, Twitter, and You Tube. Egypt now has heavy censorship and loss of internet access for long periods. Syria compromises websites and blocks information to media including Al Jazeera, BBC News, Orient TV, and al-Arabia TV. Hizbullah terror group's Al-Manar television station was removed from Facebook, the Lebanese Daily Star reported on August 16. Facebook uses the State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations to decide about halting activity that incites violence.
A World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will take place in Dubai, December 3 - 14, 2012. A treaty on Internet Governance will be debated. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack's Internet Freedom legislation, HC Resolution 127, was approved in August by the full House, 414-0. Elected leaders for Internet Freedom include Darrell Issa, Rand Paul, Ron Wyden, and more.
Excerpts edited from Congresswoman Bono Mack's press release "The United Nations has been angling to become the epicenter of Internet governance. At the WCIT discussions, a new treaty on Internet governance will be debated. Proposed treaty changes could have a devastating impact worldwide on both freedom and on economic prosperity. Americans want to keep the Internet free from government control; and to prevent other nations from giving the UN unprecedented power over Web content and infrastructure. This must not happen. "
Letters from Bono Mack to Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, urge them to take up the House Internet Governance Bill to give the U.S.A. WCIT Delegation a mandate to keep the Internet free of government control. Neither the United Nations nor the International Telecommunications Union should control the Internet.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Terry Kramer as the leader of the American WCIT Delegation; and President Obama granted him Ambassadorship. In an interview with Information Technology Industry President Dean Garfield, Kramer said that there are worrisome proposals with pricing mechanisms, content control and ‘have vs. have not' nations. Kramer's goal appears to be a free market that is not filtered, and to have international regulations similar to 1988 Telecommunications Regulations.
As President Ronald Reagan said "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Who more than our children would benefit from Internet freedom?
Darlene Casella was, before her retirement, an English teacher, a stockbroker, and president/owner of a small corporation. She lives with her husband in La Quinta, California, and can be reached at email@example.com.