U.S. to U.N. in Tunisia: Hands Off the Internet

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Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273


Washington, D.C., November 15, 2005—U.S. delegates to a United Nations conference on the future of the Internet announced this week that they would refuse to consider proposals floated by several UN members that that body take over control of the Internet. The infrastructure of the Internet is currently managed by the U.S-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Secretary General Kofi Annan and representatives of several member nations have, in advance of this week’s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia’s capital, argued that the Internet is a “global resource” which should be managed by a yet-to-be created United Nations agency. Some of the loudest cheerleaders for UN control, however, have been governments with policies most opposed to the ideas of free and open exchange that the Internet represents.


“Turning control of the Internet over to an agency staffed by UN bureaucrats would a disastrous mistake,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. “Imagine a world where the rules for what’s permissible to say and do online are written by diplomats appointed by Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro and the Chinese Communist party.”


The choice of the host nation for the World Summit clearly illustrates the threat poised by United Nations control.  The government of Tunisia has repeatedly imprisoned journalists for publishing material critical of the regime online, as have supporters of UN control such as Iran and China. The free speech and human rights records of many other UN member nations who now are demanding a role in Internet governance are questionable at best.


“The Internet helps overcome restrictions on trade and communications imposed by oppressive governments,” said Crews. “Allowing these governments to reassert control through a U.N. backdoor would be a disaster.”