Friday, October 14, 2005

The Battle for the Internet

Richard Wray of the Guardian writes that the EU says internet could fall apart unless the US yields control of the Internet to the United Nations.  "The European commission is warning that if a deal cannot be reached at a meeting in Tunisia next month the Internet will split apart."

It (the Internet) is managed by the California-based, not-for-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) under contract to the US department of commerce. A meeting of officials in Geneva last month was meant to formulate a way of sharing internet governance which politicians could unveil at the UN-sponsored World Summit ... 

Viviane Reding, European IT commissioner, says that if a multilateral approach cannot be agreed, countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and some Arab states could start operating their own versions of the internet and the ubiquity that has made it such a success will disappear. ...

The EU plan was applauded by states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, leading the former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt to express misgivings on his weblog: "It seems as if the European position has been hijacked by officials that have been driven by interests that should not be ours."

The EU proposes to "share" power over the domain name servers (DNS) which lie at the root of the system with "developing" nations. The DNS allows any address to be uniquely resolved. Controlling the root servers makes it possible to add or conceal whole branches of the Internet tree. By refusing to allow a UN approved body to "share" power over DNS, the US has been accused of hijacking the Internet. The New Scientist writes:

Currently, only the US can make changes to that master file. And that has some WGIG (UN's Working Group on Internet Governance) members very worried indeed. "It's about who has ultimate authority," says Kummer. "In theory, the US could decide to delete a country from the master root server. Some people expect this to happen one day, even though the US has never abused its position in that way."

It is precisely because the US "has never abused its position in that way" that the Internet has become so universally accepted. It is on the basis of that "full faith and confidence" in the system that vast information flows, often transacted by companies worth many billions of dollars, can occur on a routine basis. By maintaining this medium of exchange, the United States has become the information central banker to the world. The WGIG's essentially argues that the United States might be tempted to debase the Internet in order to control it. However, a moment's reflection will convince most readers that any American attempt to behave as the WGIG's members (like Saudi Arabia and Iran) would probably be tempted to behave would instantly lead to the end of the US monopoly. The New Scientist's claim that the Internet has become too valuable to entrust it to the United States stands the logic on its head. The Internet has become too valuable, even to American companies alone, for anyone to even think of monkeying with it. Anyone that is, except the WGIG.

Viviane Reding's warning is as hollow as a chocolate Easter bunny. China, Saudi Arabia and Iran can go ahead with their threat to create a proprietary DNS system and govern the hell out of it, which will guarantee that it will never achieve universal acceptance. All the United States need do to maintain its control over the Internet is simply to leave it alone.


Blogger NN said...

So, the Internet is being "hijacked" by the nation that created it. And a certain number of the most oppressive regimes of the world wants to create their own regulated, "hygienic" "intranets". And to prevent that, the US should relinquish control over the Internet to an organization that is the most corrupt organization in the world, and to a Union who's only fields of proficiency are appeasement and brutal realpolitik.

I don't think so.

10/14/2005 02:04:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

It's almost a Zen thing. The best custodian of thing is that which which leaves it alone. The best custodian of the root servers are those who will not, for political or "governance" reasons, add or prune branches in response to a bureaucratic whim. The whole UN approach resembles that of the man who lit a match so he could see if there was any gas left in the tank. The problem is the solution. And no, they won't get the joke.

10/14/2005 02:39:00 AM  
Blogger roberts said...

so long, farewell, we hate to see you go ...

10/14/2005 03:21:00 AM  
Blogger goesh said...

The world is just one large, happy village so long as Iran, China and SA can control the net and the dissent and opposition to their oppression that comes via the net.

10/14/2005 04:08:00 AM  
Blogger Daffersd said...

I am a European and I am very happy for the USA to keep control of the Internet on the same basis as they have at the moment. Personally I don't give a monkeys if China, N Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia create their own nets, that is their loss and own stupidity.

USA tell the UN and the EU (especially the EU) where to go.

10/14/2005 04:16:00 AM  
Blogger Nylarthotep said...

The recent activity in countries like Iran and China with the control and imprisonment of dissidents who use the Internet for protest (or just plain news) shows that these specific countries shouldn't be allowed a voice in the DNS systems. The idea that the US will censor such countries is pretty laughable. Those countries will censor everyone if they have control.

Who will then decide on what content is allowed? Will Christian doctrine or religious documents be censored because Saudi Arabia doesn't allow them in their country? Most of the regimes named are not known for allowing an exceptional amount of free thought.

If the likes of China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil want to make their own mini-Internets, fine, have at it. The only people that it will punish in any major way is their own citizens. Not pleasant, but reality.

I'd conjecture that isolating them from the Internet will not provide them the protections that they believe either. One thing has been proven repeatedly, someone will hack in sooner or later, even if just for the fun of it. (or maybe hack out is more appropriate.)

10/14/2005 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

Consider GPS, which was originally started as a military system but is now the backbone of many civilian uses. The military still provides the infrastructure of the system and they can give themselves special features which others don't have, like greater precision. However, it would be counterproductive to degrade the system below a certain acceptable level. The reason GPS, and not say, Glonass, is an accepted standard is because the user base has come to rely on it.

Once the user base can no longer rely on GPS because bureaucrats are switching it on and off, there will be an incentive to create a competing provider.

One could imagine a parallel DNS system which could give the same address resolution capability in parallel with the existing one. But guess what. It would have to have the same reliability desiderata as the existing one so that it can be considered a fallback system. A DNS system subject to Iranian or Syrian governance would not meet that criteria. They could build it but why would you trust it?

Consider a company that was deciding to offer a web-based CRM system costing $50 million. Business depends on the ability to deliver over the Web. What would be the incentive to switch over to this UN system and risk your investment? There would be none, unless it were more reliable and freer from political interference than the current system.

10/14/2005 04:28:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

"... is simply to leave it alone."

Excellent advice for almost every avenue of life!

10/14/2005 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

The most extraordinary thing about this kerfuffle was the way the press in Europe reported on the 'pressure' the US was under on this issue, and how it was going to be 'forced' to give way following various votes. I noticed that they gave zero details on how this 'pressure' would apply, or how the 'force' operated. Now it turns out the whole scenario was just wishful thinking.

Sliding in a dream world smack into one brutal and humiliating confrontation after another with what force really means was Europe's history in the twentieth century. It looks like their track hasn't shifted much in the twenty first.

10/14/2005 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger Fabio said...

The splintering of Internet in a number of locked-up regional networks would be a huge disgrace.

The free, fast exachange of information and ideas is re-shaping the world, and for the better.

I'm not surprised that China, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc want to control the flow of information to their subjects. But it's much worse to know that also the EU is on the same wavelength. Certainly in their intentions there is no open censorship, but we know how it would end. A massively overregulated network, where probably contents need preemptive authorization before being posted, and other restrictions of the same tone. A fake freedom of expression, only an imitation of the real thing.

10/14/2005 04:35:00 AM  
Blogger wrbluepearl said...

This topic has come up recently in a number of tech-related venues. The take on Slashdot, for example, is that "The US is a big meanie and might use the DNS against its enemies", and "International control of something is ALWAYS better". This led to the inevitable arguments about who "invented" the Internet, who "paid for" the Internet, and who "runs" the Internet.

The irony of it is that, of course, Saudi Arabia and Iran could not have "invented" the Internet even if they had wanted to, and if for some reason they wanted their own root servers, they'd have to get them from "somewhere else" (read, "the West or Japan"), and wouldn't even necessarily have the in-house talent to operate and maintain them, let alone operate and maintain the infrastruction required to make them useful...

10/14/2005 04:40:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Isn't this whole episode just an exercise in projection? Claims that the United States will "certainly" lock out some country in the future look a lot more like snapshots into the thinking of the critics.

How does anyone with an independent mind take any of these organizations seriously?

10/14/2005 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger betsybounds said...

"All the United States need do to maintain its control over the Internet is simply to leave it alone."

Yes. Well. Now, if we can just resist the urge to commit diplomacy, all will be well. I fear, though, that someone will be tempted to win Chinese hearts and minds or make a mythical Iranian moderate love us. The evidence is that such attempts don't work, but that has never kept fools from trying.

10/14/2005 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Karensky said...

Eeeuuu's position is that if I can't have it my I'm gonna quit and take my toys home. Ta ta. Now they, the EU, suddenly realize that they are lying down with snakes. We all know the EU "in the interests of.... for the benefit of.... will regulate content and behavior on the net all the while limiting the creativity of it's populace. Soon we will be reading "experts say..." "some say...." "un-named sources close to the government say....". Enough already, leave the internet in the control of the private non-profit that is running it run it.
The EU's argument is that the US Govt. is running the net which is false and a lie.

It is not broken and it does not need to be fixed!

10/14/2005 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

In situations like these, it's smart to ask ourselves why exactly nations like China and Saudi Arabia and Iran are so adament about wanting control. I don't buy the idea that they're afraid that the U.S. will decide to arbitrarily shut down whole parts of the Internet. In reality, everything that makes the Internet successful - freedom of speech, high-speed adaptability, vast breadth of information - makes it an inherent threat to closed and/or less free societies such as those mentioned. China has already taken steps to limit (censor) words like Tibet and democracy. Unfortunately, U.S. companies like Yahoo have gone along with China.

The U.S. needs to retain control. It's very simple. And very important.

10/14/2005 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

It would not be inconceivable for that UN controlled Internet would lock out Israel, or the pariah du jour. Certain a governance which included Saudi Arabia would want that. Yet paradoxically, it would not be in Saudi Arabia's interest to do that, though I doubt whether the UN-niks will see that.

The Internet is in some sense like the oceans. There should be freedom of navigation beyond the power of some body like the UN to "govern" it.

10/14/2005 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger gmat said...


As a sailor, I appreciate your GPS and free-ocean analogies.

And I enthusiastically endorse the "leave it alone" school of governance.

10/14/2005 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Wretchard: I was going to use GPS as an example in the same way that you did. Did you know that in the early 90's the FAA (our FAA) proposed a system whereby GLONASS and GPS would, be combined into a civil navigaton system? CIA told the FAA that was a bad idea - neither GLONASS nor Russia itself was reliable - and the USAF refused to cooperate. The idea died. Attempts for over 15 years now for the EU or ESA to build a competing system - under the same simulated "logic" as you describe for the Internet - have come to naught.
With the Iridium satllite system, Motorola enlisted the aid of the governments of China and Russia, even giving the a substntial piece of the launch activity - and expected them to be partners and promoters of the system - and enablers of it. Iridium effectively died, a victim as much of the failure of its non-capitalist "partners" as it was of poor design and a flawed concept. Virtually the only user of it today is the DoD.
As for other countries - did you know that for years the American film "E.T." was banned in Sweden as being unsuitable? This in a country where the gross national product is pornography.
Actually, if Russia, China and Brazil decide to start their own internet that would be just great! Based on my personal traceing of SPAM, that is where most of it comes from or through, anyway.

10/14/2005 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Lupin3 said...

The internet is already splintering. China in particular, but other countries as well (including the secure military and government networks in the US) are developing their own networks independent of ICANN. Moreover, ICANN's control of DNS servers does not provide the US the ability to deny another nation access to or a presence on the internet. While it is possible to remove access to sites with particular DNS entries, such as .uk or .ch, doing so does not prevent users in the UK or in China from surfing the net or running a web site, so long as it's DNS is, say, .com.

Were ICANN to remove a country's top level DNS (TLDNS) ID, those sites utilizing it would be forced to switch to another DNS entry, which would entail a great deal of work and incur a significant expense. Too, DNS types such as .mil and .gov are wholly owned by the US militaries and government at this point, which (among other issues) has been criticized as making the internet too US centric. So there are real concerns about ICANN and the dominant US role in managing the internet.

Nevertheless, these issues are political and social, not technical. China, Iran, and other nations have a vested in controlling the information available to their citizens, which makes having a "vote" in the implementation of the world-wide-web important from a strategic standpoint. That Europe feels it must oppose the US on this issue may be a sign that the international "legitimacy" it has so invested itself in, and promoted itself through via the UN, has come back to haunt it.

10/14/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Viviane Reding's warning is as hollow as a chocolate Easter bunny.

Wretch, it's even better than an Easter bunny. WGIG first met last Spring, retiring to some chateau for months to create this "working paper" which consists of 24 pages (with wide margins and a lot of it devoted to loooong lists of everyone of the committee). The meeting in Tunisia was just the second round.

The great thing about this is what they propose to acronymize it to: WICANN. As soon as the "working group" put out its report the Dept of Commerce told them to take a long walk off a short pier. No discussion, end of it.

So, it's not a hollow Easter bunny. It's a witch, this WICANN is. I put up a URL to the report last month, but I couldn't resist their delicious list of directors, so I copied out that whole thing.
Witches' Brew

And if you'd like to use the wonderful image the Baron made for WICANN, here it is. Well worth stealing...or not "stealing" exactly. You know how he likes to give images away.

10/14/2005 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

"The Internet is in some sense like the oceans. There should be freedom of navigation beyond the power of some body like the UN to "govern" it."

An excellent example, for another reason as well. While various international laws purporting to govern ocean navigation have been around for centuries, actual free navigation on real oceans has existed only where guaranteed by a dominant naval power, most recently the UK followed by the US.

10/14/2005 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Ticker said...

Dymphna, that's a gas!

But here's the thing about an "Internet". Given any arbitrary URL, you want to be able to resolve it so that packets can flow to and from. Otherwise what's the point of the "U" in the URL? Suppose these WGIG fellers set up their own DNS scheme and I am given a URL which can only be resolved with reference to it. If they don't provide some way of doing that, then their "Internet" isn't much of an Internet. But suppose they do provide some kind of lookup table. Then to all intents and purposes, we have a single virtual system because the whole thing acts like it had a common root, except that the WGIG guys have managed to add a performance hit to everybody. So what's the point?

Remember that nobody has to use THE INTERNET. I think France had some kind of primitive network dating back to before time, and there's nothing wrong with that. But people joined THE INTERNET because it conferred advantages. Do they propose to forgo the advanges of universal resolvability just because they want control, a control they ain't never going to get nohow, nowhere? Man, this is worse than primitive. It's medieval.

10/14/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Anyone that wants to build a "competing" system is free to do so.
They should, if they do not trust US.
Good luck and fare well.

10/14/2005 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger weaselwords78 said...

Further to what Lupin3 said, controlling DNS servers is definitely a far cry from "controlling the Internet." A DNS server is just like a big phone book, allowing you to look up a number based on a name.

It's like saying that you can control the phone system simply by hoarding all the phone books!

It would be far more dangerous if one country controlled the routers and switches that actually make up the Internet. But that's not the way it's set up at all, and in fact it never could be.

10/14/2005 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Phoster said...

It's not so much of a leap to view this internet brouhaha as a proxy for the larger fight by the same combatants to degrade the United State's economic and political prominance over most things that matter to your average human. Could anybody believe that the same organization that came up with a 400 page "basic" constitution and speaks first of governance of the internet would actually leave it alone?

Is it still true that every homepage originating from a France-based ISP has to be in the French language? It's not not hard to envision the day that an EU controlled internet would be the exclusive province of government bureacuracies or state owned businesses because only they could afford to comply with the 100 volumes of rules governing its use.

Whoever said that the price of liberty was eternal vigilance knew what they were talking about.

10/14/2005 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger Michael McCanles said...

Surely it is obvious that "control of the internet" is a stalking horse for voicing anti-American sentiment.

(1) Socialist EU wants to impose its own brand of "community-based" control because that's what socialists do. Cf. Gerhard Schroder's parting swipe at the U. S. (read: capitalist) government's putative failures in servicing the needy in the recent weather disasters. Translation> Socialist countries do it better.

(2) Discovery that the war against terrorists involves a war of information and that the internet is the medium through which that war is being waged was bound eventually to raise resistance to the fact that the U. S. controls this medium. Ergo attacks on this control are really attacks on a major U. S. strategic advantage.

(3) To control the internet for the whole globe and to do it--as so many posts so far have conveyed this pont--without bias and with maximum opportunity for free exchange of ideas--is for the U. S. to appear exactly as these carpers want to deny: namely, that it stands for democratic freedom of such exchanges.

In brief, China, EU et al. from their perspective see the U. S.'s control of the internet as a continuing major global propaganda victory.

10/14/2005 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

i don't doubt for one minute that the 'pressure' for this change comes from bedfellows with varying levels of malevolence. at one end, those mm refers to, who see this as a way to attack US military supremacy.
others just see provoking apparent US 'intransigence' as mission accomplished.
Don't forget, these people's constituency is susceptible to this approach because American belief in free speech is simply not matched anywhere else in the world: not in China, SA, and Iran of course, but also not in the EU nor even the UK.That fact is not immutable, but it is a present reality.

10/14/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Everyone on Earth benefits from our Navy. I guess we should give the EU our carrier groups. For the community.

This is the brave new world, is it? America giveth, the EU taketh away.

This will be the qualifier of this century. X is freely given to the world,but America won't share it.

10/14/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

Good post. This summary cannot be reduced or improved upon:

"...It is on the basis of that "full faith and confidence" in the system that vast information flows, often transacted by companies worth many billions of dollars, can occur on a routine basis. By maintaining this medium of exchange, the United States has become the information central banker to the world..."

I wish I had said that!

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

10/14/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger gmat said...


Agree with the anti-american component you point out. No surprise there, btw.

Probably not a good vehicle for the Capitalist v. Socialist pitch, however. Based on Wretchard's top post (caveat; that's all I have to go on, cause the internet is a black box to me), the US control of the Internet is not a capitalist undertaking. It's a not-for-profit under contract to Commerce.

Of course, as a rabid small government guy, the US looks pretty socialistic to me; US Public sector 36% GDP vs. EU Public sector 47% GDP. I mean where's the cutoff point in that 11% difference. link

10/14/2005 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Tom Friedman once said that communism excels at making everybody equally poor.

The EU and the UN are clamoring for informational communism, and informational poverty will ensue if they succeed. The very idea deserves its own policy of containment.

10/14/2005 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

I'm struck by the fact that none of these entities supporting this change are able to provide any compelling - or even semiplausible or completely ridiculous - reason for any change to occur. There's no talk at all about how their plans would benefit anyone. It's purely, "We want control."

Clearly, there is no benefit to the proposed changes. But I'm really surprised they aren't able to come up with some excuse.

10/14/2005 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

The internet is the prime soft power that disperses American values through the world and a key attractant for business and capital. It is as much to America as the British banking system was to England in the 19th century, and the internet almost certainly reveals the form of the American executive in the 21st century. One only needs to look at warfare, especially the ‘open source’ insurgency and the new shapes of the American military needed to deal with them.

But is the internet, an American invention through and through, the future of America only or the world. As technology progresses and firewalls grow to keep computer pathogens out it only stands to reason that ‘firewalls’ can be developed to keep them in. Separate internets could be developed between separate regimes (like machine translation, rendering communication, however belated, between two separate grammars [laws and rules, social mores, folkways] and vocabularies [peoples]).

10/14/2005 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

weaslewords78: Note that in the USSR there were NO phone books, as a matter of national policy. Everyone made his own phone book with the numbers of the people he needed to talk to.
This is exactly what some would prefer.
If you ain't listed you don't exist.
You become a non-person.
A fine old Communist tradition.

10/14/2005 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger EddieP said...

The USA designed, paid for, and implemented the internet. There is no reason to share its management with anyone. Anyone who wants their own should build it. Pressure? Based on what? You want to see pressure, try giving it away to some UNbots.

10/14/2005 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

The complaint that the US could potentially abuse the Internet, and therefore should not control it, has interesting undertones.

What else might we have that we could "potentially" abuse? What else must be relinquished to the UN because its owner is America?

Oh, I don't know, how about power, or our wealth, or our military, or...

During the tsunami crisis, the UN demanded that our helicopters sport the UN logo and our soldiers the blue helmet, because, according to Claire Short, the new moral authority was, exclusively, an institutional beast. The old moral authority, the one derived from action, had been euthanized while we were sleeping.

Face it, folks, they all hate us because we are successful. For the rest of our lives they will try, at every turn, to replace the stars and stripes with the nancy-boy blues.

Perception is truth, and they are repainting the barn.

10/14/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug Santo said...

Off topic - Good stuff at Real Clear Politics today especially a piece by Lieutenant Colonel Gary Skubal, titled:

"An Iraqi Answer for Terrorists:
A Day with the Commandos in Tallafar"

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

10/14/2005 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger leaddog2 said...

To HELL with the European Union's Bureacrats and German and French politicians. May they receive the beheadings they wish on others!

(That is a New American proverb, by the way)! Feel free to use it! Ha!

10/14/2005 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

It is certainly interesting this issure of the internet and its 'control'.

Wasn't it designed so that it couldn't be controlled? It was supposed to be means to provide communication even in event of a nuclear attack.

The thought that anyone(country/countries) can control the internet certainly should strike fear into our hearts. I like the oceans analogy, but can we really sit still and let it run as it is?

There are some issues that need dealing with. The number of public ip addresses are finite. Distribution of these numbers and their 'ownership' is an issue.

Similarily there was a recent event that highlighted some of the control issues on the internet:

Dispute threatens to snarl Internet

Network Divorce

I am definitely in favor of keeping the internet free and open. Currently the NGO has been doing a decent job of it. It is a tough question of how to keep it free. If it ain't broke....that dispute could indicate symptoms of a break.

10/14/2005 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Agent of Influence said...

I haven't really been following this particular issue but the status quo doesn't seem to be a particularly big deal. ICANN is a private corporation conducting business openly. Its not in their best interest to screw around and remove domains or whatever cause it would eliminate the trust factor which is what they rely on to do what they do

10/14/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

Verx - the internet doesn't proactively disperse our values, it makes them available to whoever chooses to access them.

These "values" and "information" are freely available - that's what's upsetting. Governments like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, et al cannot just hide or spin information from their subjects.

I don't think the entities on the internet that constitute "American values" necessarily prosletize how good our right our country is. In fact, our MSM spends a lot of time finding things wrong with our government, especially when it disagrees with the party or individuals in power.

It's easy to see why China, Iran, et al want to control the internet - - who wants news outlets fact finding and citizens dissenting? It's similar to why E.T. was banned in Sweden - - because it showed children disobeying and talking back to their parents.

Besides, these countries can (and I think some do) restrict and monitor traffic to the internet going out over servers located in their countries. I'm sure if you hit a lot of porn (or Christian for that matter) sites in Tehran you'll eventually be getting a visit from the mullahs and they won't be happy. It's easier and more efficient to control access outright so you don't have to police your people.

As for creating a competing version of the internet, they are welcome to try and silo themselves from the rest of the world. Companies have tried to replace Microsoft's operating system and office suite for years now to no avail. I don't see this being any different.

10/14/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

when two of the Inets major companies are both losing money at the rates described in your links, it won't be long 'til neither provide service.
Operating at money losing rates, to build volume, is a fools game. Look at the stock valuations of the companies mentioned
"...Both Cogent and Level 3 are losing money. Cogent posted a $31 million loss in the first two quarters of 2005, while Level 3 lost $265 million. Cogent stock, which reached $40 a share last December, closed yesterday at $4.66, down 23 cents, on the American Stock Exchange. Level 3 closed down 6 cents to $2.21 on the Nasdaq stock exchange. ..."

Free lunch never is.

10/14/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger CJB said...

The UN & EU definately operate by Bizarro world logic. The most free country in the world (the US) cannot be trusted to run the internet, a view promoted by the most oppressive regimes in the world (China, Cuba, Iran, Russia or any Arab gov't) so better it should be turned it over to the UN, a corrupt bureaucracy.

A show of hands: if Russia, China, Iran et al separate and form their own "internet", would anybody notice, aside from the sudden drop in the volume of spam you get?

10/14/2005 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Arthur Parry said...

For a few golden years after the widespread deployment of ATMs, one could withdraw or deposit cash on almost any street corner without caring who’s ATM they were using. The techies had created an enormously useful public good, and the suits were too slow-moving to cripple it. Eventually, banks started slapping fees on transactions, and now everyone is back to driving halfway across town to find their own bank’s ATM.

I’m afraid the internet may be in the twilight of such a golden age. The techie-invented system grew too quickly for governments to react, but now they are catching on. While I agree that is vitally important not to submit ourselves to the UN or other autocracies for governance, I’m afraid the U.S. government is also prone to meddling. Remember the PGP encryption debacle? Call me a cynic, but I expect this is just the first in a series of attempts to regulate, censor, and tax the free flow of information.

10/14/2005 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

There's a real skewed vision of what democracy means that has been promoted by the UN. It's that if you have 160 banana republics and 155 of them vote for something -- no matter how self-defeating, dumb and hateful it might be -- then everyone else has to do it because in a democracy the majority rules.

They keep hoping that if they keep on *doing* this "majority rules" thing against the U.S., sooner or later we're going to fall for it and give them our wealth, our taxes, our nukes and anything else they can think up to vote for.

Other thing in this internet question that people need to keep an eye on is what other entity is there out in the world that might like to see the internet (and especially its blogs) shackled? Can you say "MSM"? I think if the UN *were* to take over the internet they'd probably hire Dan Rather to supervise the process and he'd be in there enthusiastically uncoupling everything he could get his CBS-paid paws on.

10/14/2005 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Just a penny a click, it could fund the UN Piecekeepers, without US oversight.
Kofi's dream
A free peoples nightmare

cjb is right, I think, about US taxes and regulation coming down the pike.
Just look at the free speech limitations on non-approved Electoral speech, instituted by McCain-Fiengold, that have been upheld by the Supremes.

Another Federal power grab will be coming, count on it.

10/14/2005 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger andy said...

I was going to leave a comment but after reading the excellent comments already here I am afraid mine would come across like a chimpanzee drawing in the sand with a stick.

I love this blog Wretchard.

10/14/2005 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger sister said...

Next the EU will want to "share" control of Coke and McDonalds. When you have something good, someone wants to find a way to take your stuff, eh? It's our stuff! GO AWAY!!!

10/14/2005 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger William Knight said...

Many of the people here putting down the EU and UN member nations for concerns about future abuse of internet authority are the same people who have no problem declaring physical wars and killing large numbers of people based solely on fear and threats of WMD attacks. Much flimsy and erroneous evidence was presented to justify these 'preemptive' actions such as the war in Iraq.

And then you clowns turn around and whine about preemptive actions of many other nations around the world (not just the current wingnut whipping-boy favorites) who are worried about possible future abuse of internet authority by the US.

Your detachment from reality grows more hysterical by the day.

10/14/2005 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger jsk said...

If China, Iran and the UN want control of the Internet, shouldn't they be directing their complaints and requests to Al Gore? After all, he invented it.

10/14/2005 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Oh, hell, I swear, right hand to J.C. and the boys that I will punish blogger for timing me out with the security thing again. You put your long-winded, short-inspirated prose typed immaculately onto electrons and the fascist UN-ChiCom-FemNazi-Islamacrazy computer-geek Dungeon-Dragon-playing pocket-protecting internet brownshirts removes your pendantic brilliance before it ever graces the universe of comment obscurity.

Well, whatever...

David, my use of the internet was not to paint it as an 'arm' of 'propaganda,' but analogous to boxing. Some of greatest fighters, or most prevalent, tended to be Irish, Jewish, black, hispanic...all members of the hardest living communities at one time or another. So my point was that the internet allows America the same opportunities as boxing does minorities; playing to the affinities of the national or social traditions. It's that affinity that makes the internet and globalization seem inseparable from Americanization, US success.

While I'm sympathetic to megalithic prophecies of the future, I remember another invention that knocked down walls separating communities; the cannon. When Byzantium fell, all European fortifications seemed obsolete (they were), until the trace italienne and other changes inaugurated another couple centuries of stalemate.

Point is, we've been here before. Compare Nobel Laureate *spit* Harold Pinter *spit* with Aquinas, are we more or less likely to act morally in this world than the past? If the rest of the world can't win on a playing field that America dominates (by perforce becoming more like American), they'll seek to change the rules or take their toys and go home.

10/14/2005 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Let’s get something straight once and for all, WK, it was YOUR fears of WMD that constituted YOUR reason for invading Iraq. You did not give a flying F about the fate of the people there or that Iraq was a failed state that offered immense opportunities for terrorists and presented a huge threat to the world's energy supplies. And that is why YOUR KIND gave us permission to deal with Iraq.

But that is not why WE went in there! We went there because it was necessary and we could DO it. You did not go there because you did not care about the people there and could not have done anything even if you did.

And that is why the internet must never pass into the hands of people like you. You are selfish, easily corrupted, driven by the street fads of the moment and, perhaps most important of all, COULD CROSS THREAD A BOWLING BALL!

10/14/2005 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Many of the people here putting down the EU and UN member nations for concerns about future abuse of internet authority are the same people who have no problem declaring physical wars and killing large numbers of people based solely on fear and threats of WMD attacks.

Rarely have I been proven right so quickly. Thanks, William.

It's not just the internet they want, folks. They want control of everything. When we finally pass the global test, it will be as testator.

10/14/2005 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger William Knight said...

rwe says:
Let’s get something straight once and for all, WK, it was YOUR fears of WMD that constituted YOUR reason for invading Iraq.

Thanks for making my case about your reality challenge, wingnut. Bush et al. used the WMD threat as the initial primary cause for war. It was only after the invasion that they flip-flopped and said it was mostly for nation-building and democracy.

10/14/2005 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Red River said...

At the bottom, the internet is routing tables and destinations.

The root DNS servers don't mean squat if someone controls the routing tables.

I can mimic any MAC or IP address you want. But I cannot do anything about the routing tables.

What is most disturbing about this is what does Iran know about building the internet? Or China for that matter? Is this their field of expertise? I doubt it.

10/14/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

Your understanding of the lead-up to war is surprisingly un-nuanced, William.

Bush may have strenuously argued the WMD angle, but he was deft enough to bring an entire armada of justifications when he set sail for Baghdad.

Out of twenty-three reasons listed in the Iraq War resolution, only one of them foundered on the rocks. How brave you are to pick that particular ship to go down with. That sound you hear, as your head goes beneath the waves aboard the USS NO WMD, is called vindication. A melancholy soundtrack for drowning, no doubt.

10/14/2005 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


At 11:13 you insisted the war in Iraq was based "soley" on WMD claims. Less than an hour later you insisted that it was "primarily" WMD claims.

But this does bring up an interesting point, one often missed by the "they lied about WMD" crowd. WMD was used as a reason "primarily" because the Bush administration decided to go through the whole UN process. Considering that Iraq was under UN sanctions for WMD, this made some sense. To fret about the US or the Bush administration "lying about WMD" is to equally fret about the UN and just about every government and intelligence organization in the world who believed that Iraq did indeed have WMD.

10/14/2005 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...


I agree with everything you wrote, but I would submit that the UN/WMD justification was much more subtle. We demanded that Saddam account for the WMD, either by proving he destroyed them or by producing them to the inspectors. Whether or not he really had them is quite beside the point. The letter of the law demanded that he cooperate and account for his arsenal. He did neither, and now he's in jail.

That's much too subtle for the bumper-sticker emoters on the Left. Even Nuancy Boy didn't get it, and Kerry had a whole team of ostensibly smart people telling him what to say. What hope is there for poor, introverted William?

10/14/2005 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

aristides said:
Bush may have strenuously argued the WMD angle, but he was deft enough to bring an entire armada of justifications when he set sail for Baghdad.

An armada of justifications. How poetically put, aristides. Perhaps you could inform us (with entrancing nuance, of course) of the 22 reasons, other than the WMD threat, made by Bush that justifies this preemptive war against Iraq.

10/14/2005 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

james kielland said:
To fret about the US or the Bush administration "lying about WMD" is to equally fret about the UN and just about every government and intelligence organization in the world who believed that Iraq did indeed have WMD.

Uh, no, it's not 'equally fretting'. The Bush admin's statements about WMD were used as a basis to start a war. That's not 'equal' to every other government and intelligence organization in the world who believed that Iraq did indeed have WMD. Your little rhetorical attempt at misdirection makes no sense.

10/14/2005 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

The Congress has done it for me, so I won't write it all out.

Go here to see the resolution. You'll notice the WMD justification is reason #6.

10/14/2005 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Michael McCanles said...

Re: WMD claims and criticism thereof. Early on Belmont Club published posts at various times having to do with:

(1) Methods of dealing with insurgencies detailed in a 1940 Marine Corps Handbook derived from Pershing's tactics during the 1903 Philippines Moros rebellion.

(2) Discussions related thereto of sanctuary sought by insurgents and the need to deprive them geopolitical space on which to train and from which to launch attacks.

(3) The notion, during the time when the A. Q. Khan boutique was being aired in the media, that "possession of WMDs" involved no more than "cash on the table."

W. might consider rehashing these arguments in an up-to-date application.

My own take on such things as "Bush lied men died" is to note the general military ignorance of the propounders as manifested in a complete lack of awareness of how complicated the interlocking conditions dictating military action may be--and have been throughout military history.

"WMD" refers to a network of realities, some political, some human, some ideological, as well as having to do simply with "weapons."

Generally the "Bush lied" crowd tends to think of WMDs as something liked 38-caliber revolvers But Much Bigger. ("We looked under 271--check that, 279--Iraqi mattresses and found no WMDs").

E.g., those who said at the time that Saddam was himself a "weapon of mass destruction" were in touch with just the kind of network of realities I'm referring to above.

"Possession of WMDs" is not a reason to go to war. Who possesses them, why does he (do they) possess them, have they used them in the past, who would they use them against, under what conditions would they use them , can they come into possession of them: these are just some of the questions that would have to answered specifically before a war was justifiable. And Bush and the Bush administration's spokesmen addressed all of these and related questions before and during the Iraq invasion.

"William" should not be dealt with by posts on this site as if his objections were based on any serious thought, or awareness of his own ignorance.

10/14/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

As interesting as the whole history of the lead-up to the Iraq war may in fact be, it seems to be both 1) moving very off-topic, and 2) a "hysterical" beating of a dead horse.

10/14/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

aristides said:
The Congress has done it for me, so I won't write it all out.

Go here to see the resolution. You'll notice the WMD justification is reason #6.

Ok, ok. I see it all now. Reason #1 is:

Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;

Yeah, that's good one, isn't it? So the first justification for the Iraq war is the previous war. Brilliant. Too bad that just happens to allow everybody on the entire freakin planet, including terrorists, to justify their own violent actions and wars.

Pardon me while I re-adjust my nuance meter.

10/14/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Pardon me while I re-adjust my nuance meter.
You're excused, Messr. Knight. Hopefully you'll come back soon, just on topic.

10/14/2005 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger gmat said...

I always love this particular version of "Who Struck John?" when it comes up. It reminds me of that scene in Braveheart when the scots are going back and forth about who has the particular ancient authentic document that proves the succession.

Anyway, try to imagine the administration obtaining the congressional resolution it needed to invade Iraq, minus this argument:

*Iraq gives WMDs to terrorists*

Wouldn't have happened. Doesn't matter if it's #6 in the resolution, any other reason is insufficient without it. Politically, I mean.

Not strategically. Hell, I think it was a great idea to send the army to kill Saddam, just because he publicly called for terrorism against the West. But you couldn't have sold that to Congress in Fall '02. Not without the "mushroom cloud over Manhattan" image.

10/14/2005 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

This is a shot across the bow of the ship of American and world freedom.

The powers that be, worldwide and some within the U.S. have decided that the free wheeling internet is not in their best interests. They are moving big time to control it: to shut it up.

What an odd group of bedfellows they present. Who knew that Brazil was so corrupt.

Saudi Arabia has a fat and happy citizenry and I guess they want to keep it that way. They are probably providing the money to pay for the rent of that working group's chateau. Money may have done the trick for Brazil as well.

China and Iran et al are pretty obvious. The EU? Money? C'mon!

They never would have proposed this unless they thought that forces within the U.S. would come out swinging for them. The internet cannot be physically taken from the U.S. but the U.S. could give it away to those monsters.

Who in the U.S. is pushing for this surrender? The main stream media is obviously taking the side of the monsters, (the only "fair" thing to do is share with the world dontcha know).

Smells like Soros to me!(speculation alert)

Whadaya think

Wretchard, thanks for this wonderful post and kudos to almost all of the commenters.

10/14/2005 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Speaking of "little rhetorical attempt(s) at misdirection" which make no sense, what point about internet governance are you trying to make?

10/14/2005 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

michael mccanles said:
My own take on such things as "Bush lied men died" is to note the general military ignorance of the propounders as manifested in a complete lack of awareness of how complicated the interlocking conditions dictating military action may be--and have been throughout military history.

"WMD" refers to a network of realities, some political, some human, some ideological, as well as having to do simply with "weapons."

So which is it mccanles? On the one hand you seem to imply that it takes some kind of special military knowledge as a qualification to debate the larger political issue of going to war. And yet in the very next paragraph, you say it deals with a 'network of realities', political, human, ideological, etc.

Perhaps what you are really trying to say is that 'I'm a military expert and you're not, so your opinion isn't valid', while also somehow trying to acknowledge all the other complicating, non-military factors that are involved.

Sorry, you can't have it both ways.

10/14/2005 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I must say, I never expected that piffle to be your retort. Some things are beyond parody.

Though I do enjoy onesidedness, I must demur on its continuance. My advice to you, William, is to hang in there. Education comes to us all, sooner or later.

As to GMAT's assertion that #6 is a condition precedent to all other justifications for war, I simply disagree. Taking down Saddam was on Bush's agenda starting in January 2001, long before a WMD-Terrorist nexus became a paramount concern. Bush was planning on removing Saddam before Osama made it urgent, and it was not for WMD.

But more importantly, Bush's strategic vision would have been impossible without removing Saddam the Strongman in the heart of the Middle East. He had to go for us to move forward. How it was sold will remain a point of contention, but don't overlook that basic fact.

10/14/2005 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger Amadeo said...

This indeed sounds silly. The latecomers to the party now want to grab the mike and want to determine where and how the party should go.

Next thing you know, they'll want to change domain names to be written in characters other than English.

But it is to be expected. The UN for the most part has become the stable for those who cannot win fair and square in the public arena. In the UN, these voices find their forum and power.

10/14/2005 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hold on. Doesn't Britain currently hold the EU's rotating presidency? The Internet is such a powerful instrument for the cause of freedom, starting with the effort in Iraq, why then, is Britain taking the side of the enemies of freedom (China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia) on such a critical issue? I don't get it.

10/14/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

james kielland said:
Speaking of "little rhetorical attempt(s) at misdirection" which make no sense, what point about internet governance are you trying to make?

Well, it is clearly stated in my first post, but I will restate and attempt to explain it to you again.

I was merely pointing out the hypocracy and absurdity of people who, one the one hand, fault other countries for preemptive regulatory actions to protect their interests on the internet, but on the other hand, have no problem with preemptive military actions to protect US interests in the middle east.

The hypocracy is quite clear, but I'm sure that people on this forum will have no trouble nuancing it into the opposite interpretation of truth, fairness and righteousness.

10/14/2005 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger William Knight said...

aristides said:
Though I do enjoy onesidedness, I must demur on its continuance. My advice to you, William, is to hang in there. Education comes to us all, sooner or later.

The feeling is mutual. I have much better things to do than to listen to you assert your educated view of Bush's grand strategic vision. Sure it's not working so well right now, but these things do take time, don't they?

Don't worry little naif, the wisdom of our course of actions will be made clear in the long run.

The eternal con.

10/14/2005 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Mr Knight
Any country can regulate, within it's borders, all it wants. When they wish to regulate my life, well, I draw the line there.
As I said earlier if anyone wants to create their own internet system, go to it. Hope they fare well. The Iranians, Chinese or Brazilians can do as they wish, They can regulate their communication networks as they wish. They can isolate their countries as they wish.
The idea that the US should hand over US assets to these other regulators seems nonsensical, to me.
This area of International Commerce (the internet) and how it would be regulated by the EU is much more analogous to European Farm subsidies impoverishing third world farmers than to the US enforcing UN resolutions.

10/14/2005 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I was merely pointing out the hypocracy and absurdity of people who, one the one hand, fault other countries for preemptive regulatory actions to protect their interests on the internet, but on the other hand, have no problem with preemptive military actions to protect US interests in the middle east.

When your reasons for arguing against the former and for the latter are the self-interest of the United States, there is no hypocrisy involved. Nor is there hypocrisy if your cause is freedom.

Protocol never gained much favor over here. Neither did orders from Europe. If they want it bad enough, let them come get it.

10/14/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Just because people are or may be hypocrites doesn't mean they are wrong. Many smokers, alcoholics and drug addicts will warn you to not start up the habit. Hypocracy (sic)? Maybe. But so what? Pointing out that someone is a hypocrite in no way suggests that their arguments are illogical or that their conclusions are incorrect.

Secondly, charges of hypocrisy rarely win anyone over, least of all hypocrites. It's little more effective in a discussion than calling someone a jerk. They may indeed be jerks but letting them know that is hardly persuasive.

You could have attempted to enter this thread in a way that made a strong case for allowing countries to have some say in how they regulate the internet. You could have maybe even persuaded some people. But up to this point I'm still unsure how these proposed changes would in fact make the internet better and I'm also left very uncertain what rights countries may have to regulate a public domain created by another country. All I'm really left with is your charge of hypocrisy and a bunch of discussion about a topic we're all unable to change. The net result is that no one is really taking you all that seriously and have probably ended up closing themselves off to anything persuasive you may say.

The world is full of hypocrites, William. Letting them know it may feel good, may in fact give you the feelings of truth, fairness, and righteousness. But no one really cares and in the end you've just given yourself a fix of those feelings without convincing anyone of anything.

10/14/2005 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger John Aristides said...


Excellent post. "The sign that points to Boston doesn't have to go there."

10/14/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

I was merely pointing out the hypocracy and absurdity of people who, one the one hand, fault other countries for preemptive regulatory actions to protect their interests on the internet, but on the other hand, have no problem with preemptive military actions to protect US interests in the middle east.

Except it wasn’t actually preemptive now was it, William? Or did we fly over 350,000 flight sorties over Iraq for the fun of it, with 50,000 troops in the Middle East because, hey, all the hot hijabed chicks and cold beer, dude? If you stick to WMD as the raison d’etre for war, you are quite uneducable. Sorry.

But there is a common theme between wanting to cave into a megalomaniacal dictator and wanting to give up the freedoms of one’s own citizens to foreign dictatorial regimes so I forgive your ham-handed tragicomedy. I offer you the cure for appeasement, may you find peace in your condition.

10/14/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Bear said...

wretchard said...
It would not be inconceivable for that UN controlled Internet would lock out Israel, or the pariah du jour.

Currently, as far as I know, each country can assign names within its own domain. The DNS system is distributed. If I want to resolve something like, my machine queries one of the web DNS servers to find out where is, and then queries the DNS server to find out the IP address of smurf within the domain.

So China has complete control over name resolution within its own domain, as does Iran and the rest.

What they DON'T have, and which they want, is control over anybody ELSE's domain resolution, or over the .com, .net, and .org top-level domains

As wretchard points out, what they want is the ability to DENY resolution to names or domains they don't like. They would also like to be able to capture the revenue from being able to assign domain names

10/14/2005 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

knight provides a useful contribution to the thread - not the 'points' he makes which are, of course, puerile nonsense -- but in confirming our fears about the real motivation behind this land-grab.
Mika - don't forget, Pinter is British. Lurking just behind Tony B are plenty of resentful haters there too, i'm afraid.

10/14/2005 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ticker said...

William Knight's basic proposition about the illegitimacy of the Iraqi war is about to be put to test in the coming days and months. The Iraqis themselves are going to vote on their proposed constitution. The insurgency, which subscribes to Mr. Knight's point of view, until recently argued for boycotting the process, then now for rejecting it. If the Iraqis come down on the side of the insurgency then we'll know that most of them agree with Mr. Knight. If they reject the insurgency's platform I am fairly certain Mr. Knight will regard the fact as irrelevant.

One might also point out that Mr. Knight's arguments have been made, quite eloquently and professionally, against John Howard, George Bush and Tony Blair by their political opponents. The electorates were unconvinced. However, as Mr. Knight says:

"I have much better things to do than to listen to you assert your educated view of Bush's grand strategic vision. Sure it's not working so well right now, but these things do take time, don't they?"

10/14/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gideon of MN said...

The term "controlling the Internet" is an oxymoron. The Internet is fundamentally a decentralized system. The only central touchpoint are the 13 root DNS zone servers.

Anybody can go set up their own if they want. In the past several years there have been several attempts to create an alternate DNS root (alterNIC, eDNS, OpenNIC), none of which have ever gone anywhere. To succeed you would have to convince millions of DNS server operators to change the root zone file on their DNS servers. Nobody in their right mind is going to want to run a web site under alternate DNS hierarchy where they will exclude a majority of potential visitors.

The UN lost its chance to "run" the world's dominant internetwork in the late 1980s, when the Europe and the UN via the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) tried to replace the Internet TCP/IP communication protocol standards with something called OSI. Basically it was an attempt by the world PTT (Postal, Telegraph, and Telephone) monopolies to wrest control of the Internet out of the hands of the US government. The PTT monopolies are especially strong in the 3rd world countries and they dominate the ITU, which sets world telephone standards.

The ITU is a big reason why phone calls to 3rd world countries are so ridiculously expensive. The bureaucracy of the ITU is Kafka-esque: The OSI documents for TP4/X25 are written in incomprehensible legalese and you must pay through the nose just to peek at them. (This was one reason why OSI failed - TCP/IP was evangelized through the wide distribution of the source code of BSD Unix; OSI/TP4/X25 had no equivalent.)

If the EU/ITU/UN had taken over the Internet 15-20 years ago with OSI/TP4/X25, today instead of paying $24.95/month for your megabit DSL you would be paying ten times that amount for your X25/ISDN connection at 64 kbps.

But this is all on the dustbin of history. The war is over and decentralization has won. The modern Internet is a concatenation of millions of independent networks that all agree to talk to each other voluntarily (the word "Internet" comes from the term "inter-network"). World connectivity happens through an untold number of independent bi-lateral contractual agreements between peering ISPs.

The only centralization on the Internet is at the root DNS nameservers, and these are used only by the common consent of millions of owners of independent DNS servers. There is nothing to prevent anyone from bolting and setting up their a new root DNS, or from anyone else using an alternate root DNS (which will be cheerfully ignored.)

The transnational progressives and lefty social engineers can chit-chat all they want at their UN workshops about how they want to govern the Internet. But as a practical matter it is a waste of hot air.

10/14/2005 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger exdem13 said...

Oh puh-leeze....

The Internet is all about true freedom of speech & expression (barring certain felonious acts), something that 80% of the world outside the USA doesn't understand, and that most of the other 20% understand but don't want. (That would be China, Iran, France, etc.) Therefore, since these people don't understand or don't like what the Internet does for people all across theworld every hour of every day.... They can't have control of it. If they want to have their own closed-circuit, limited-access-big Brother-monitored Innernets (sic) they are welcome to them. That's the 21st century equivalent of Japan turning away from outsiders for 200 years. We wish them well.... Wait, no we don't. People like that deserve to eat our dust.

10/14/2005 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Hum, just about the time that the 'Oil for Food' scam was uncovered Kofi and his friends at the UN ask the USA:

UN: Please give us control of the Internet. We are running a little low on money, power and prestigious projects.

US: No.

I agree with Michael McCanles that it's a stalking horse. But, there could be a host of ulterior motives not the least of which would be an "Internet Tax."

"Surely it is obvious that "control of the Internet" is a stalking horse for voicing anti-American sentiment." --M. McCanles

And, Dymphna does a great job of exposing the political hacks behind this issue. "I couldn't resist their delicious list of directors, so I copied out that whole thing." -Dymphna

Yes, quite a list of scam artists.

It's true that the analogy of the phone system and the phone book are a fairly good as weaselwords78 notes (and RWE's note on Russia's lack of phone books is well taken).

"...controlling DNS servers is definitely a far cry from "controlling the Internet." A DNS server is just like a big phone book, allowing you to look up a number based on a name. It's like saying that you can control the phone system simply by hoarding all the phone books! It would be far more dangerous if one country controlled the routers and switches that actually make up the Internet. But that's not the way it's set up at all..." -weaselwords

The root server argument is technically interesting - but as others have pointed out, switches, routers, and the routing tables are equally as important.

I believe that the real control lies with the communications companies on which Internet is built upon (But, I am no expert on the subject - rat has some interesting thoughts on some of those companies).

As wrbluepearl points out the root server red-herring was discussed on many forums like SlashDot and other sites. Let me add one more.

Lgf had a long discussion on the subject and there are several posts which bind together the basics of the net. I would suggest reading:

#69 nonic 10/7/2005 09:42AM PDT [this post contains links to Root, ICANN, DNS Root Name Servers and others]

#70 quark2 10/7/2005 09:44AM PDT [this contains a link to the major communication companies and up todate internet through put - which gives one the sense that the major communication companines really play a huge role in the net].

See: lgf #69 and #70 responses

Rat pretty well sums it up:

"Anyone that wants to build a "competing" system is free to do so.
They should, if they do not trust US.
Good luck and fare well

10/14/2005 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ex-democrat, from what I understand up until very recently the European Commission was behind the US. It's only in the last week or so, having received notice from China, Iran, etc., that they reversed their stand on the issue. And Britain facilitated the process, which I find rather interesting.

10/14/2005 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

I want to pose something to the list that I don't believe has been considered in this discussion. Why is the EU joining in?

The surface reasons put forward aren't really convincing. But even some of the cynical motives suggested by many Belmont skeptics overlook one thing: the EU should realize that this is a dead-end issue.

The US likes the internet. The US doesn't particularly like the UN. Large numbers of Americans are generally skeptical of expanding the power of even their own governments in the internet. It would seem the EU would then realize that this is going to be an issue of resistance by the US.

In chess, you must think several moves ahead. That in mind it should cause us to assume that the EU knew from the beginning that the US would reject this. Consequently it's quite likely that the EU is pushing for this BECAUSE they know the US will reject it. If that's the case, how could the EU benefit from getting the US to reject this scheme?

10/14/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger StoutFellow said...

Admittedly, this whole internet thing is quite a complicated business and emotions may be getting a little out of hand. What we need is a cool, level-headed analysis from the BBC

The US has got an image problem when it comes to the internet.
US administration coming under worldwide pressure over the net. It is seen as arrogant and determined to remain the sheriff of the world wide web, regardless of whatever the rest of the world may think.
It has even lost the support of the European Union. It stands alone as the divisive battle over who runs the internet heads for a showdown at a key UN summit in Tunisia next month.
The stakes are high, with the European Commissioner responsible for the net, Viviane Reding, warning of a potential web meltdown. "The US is absolutely isolated and that is dangerous," she said during a briefing with journalists in London. "Imagine the Brazilians or the Chinese doing their own internet. That would be the end of the story.

Add a dash of organizational analysis from the UN....
The UN's WGIG has suggested four alternatives:
Option One - create a UN body known as the Global Internet Council that draws its members from governments and "other stakeholders" and takes over the US oversight role of Icann.
Option Two - no changes apart from strengthening Icann's Governmental Advisory Committee to become a forum for official debate on net issues.
Option Three - relegate Icann to a narrow technical role and set up an International Internet Council that sits outside the UN. US loses oversight of Icann
Option Four - create three new bodies. One to take over from Icann and look after the net's addressing system. One to be a debating chamber for governments, businesses and the public; and one to co-ordinate work on "internet-related public policy issues".

...and I think that you'd agree that we have a great recipe for saving the internet from, from .. well from whatever's wrong with it. Come to think of it, Kojo Annan would make an excellent Internet Czar. Don't you agree?

10/14/2005 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

If John Kerry were President, he would have given it to them.

10/14/2005 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But he is not.
Praise be to allah

10/14/2005 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I'm a little slow on the uptake to this discussion but the analogy to GPS would be incomplete without mentioning that the Europeans are going to have their own version of GPS called Galileo. there has been a lot of discussion back and forth so as to make sure that the european system is interoperable and with the US gps.Also, the US has worked to insure that there are no security problems. Galileo will is slated to have a cost whereas the US GPS system is free. However, the EU insisted on the system as they feared they would become technological vassals to the US without their own system. Galileo is slated to be operational in 2008.
Lots of info can be found by going to google and typing in European GPS.

10/14/2005 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

The EU involvement in trying to wrest control of the internet is particularly instructive; the move is not particularly intelligent, practical and certainly is less profitable in the long run than the current open, limited policy. But large governments hue to an anti-rational line that appears to be often quite reasonable at first gloss. They just compromise and at best seek the geometric center when what they need to pursue is the golden mean; instead of compromising at where the need actually is (found by the market) they go by where the need should be (by idealogy and guesstimation). Thats the central danger of a political bureaucracy in charge of the internet, fixing problems that don't exist yet.

10/14/2005 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

If you consider that the EU might be a combination of France and Germany hiding behind the EU mantle (again), and that both France and Germany are *really* hurting for extra funds right now, and that France recently lost its main Sugar Daddy in addition to under-the-table funding through the Oil-for-Food scam, then might it not be possible that the EU (i.e., France/Germany) sees this as a wonderful new way to tax the rich Americans?

And if it seems that the idea is not very bright and will antagonize the US, then I wonder if you can tell me the last time a bright idea *did* come out of Europe, as well as when was the last time the Yurps cared if they annoyed America?

10/14/2005 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


I didn't mean to suggest that the Europeans care if they upset us. I don't think that they do. Nevertheless, while the ideology of many European political types may be questionable it doesn't mean that they are given to doing pointless things. Put another way, just because a policy itself seems pointless doesn't mean that someone isn't somehow benefitting by advocating it.

Like all countries, the European nations are constantly looking for ways to increase their leverage or power. How could taking this position benefit Europe in the long-run even if the know the US is going to reject it?

Or, how could Europe benefit if this drama accelerated and their warnings of a fragmented internet came to be? Could Europe be looking for a way to secure markets for their IT components?

I'm not suggesting that I believe this would be a winning strategy. But I am suggesting that there could be considerably more to this political maneuvering than first meets the eye.

10/14/2005 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Here's another way to look at it: According to Ernest Hemingway, "Wars are caused by undefended wealth." While I don't want to defend that position, it does make a point: people seem to like to fight over resources.

The internet is a source of tremendous wealth for the US. This goes far beyond the net itself and goes through just about every component that makes up the net: routers, servers, software, and a large number of desktop computers. And then there is content production. The US is exceptionally strong in this industry and it's a very high profit industry. And more importantly, it's a strategic industry.

We should not be surprised that some nations or group of nations would wish to gather a large part of that industry for themselves or seek to somehow restrict or constrain the US's lead. I think it's possible that this is more of a concern than Chirac's attempt to get his hands on some tax revenues from US ISPs.

10/14/2005 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

And sometimes a stupid greedy Frenchman is just a stupid greedy Frenchman.

I look forward to calling the UN/EU bluff and telling them to take their football and go build their own internet.

10/15/2005 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger thad lucken said...

basically this whole matter comes down to one question: even with all of your high tech education and great corporate IT training do you still have the guts to stand up to tyranny?
the answer for microsoft and yahoo is a resounding NO!
they want the money or the promised future money and have absolutely no balls whatsoever to help defend the rights they have profitted from more than any generation EVER.
They used to have a saying "Better dead than Red" or "Fear Sellout, not Fallout!"
It never ceases toamaze me how smart people can be but how stupid at the same time..

IF I am a criminal, what do I do all day? I either walk around stealing, or I walk around all day trying to see if the doors are unlocked to let me in.

The people in charge of this internet seem to be from the suburbs so far from reality that they don't even have doors, let alone locks. And they seem topoo-poo anyone that would suggest to them that they get some.
Butwhen they get broken into and assraped who dothey blame? Not the criminals, but their neighbors that didnt give all of their money to the criminals...

Get off your ass and start doing something about this shit. What do you expect from the world of eurosocialism and san jose/seattle lib billionaires.

no stick.

10/15/2005 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

I'm with Nahncee all the way. She writes and I feel my fingers flying over the keyboard.

There is a time to think ... and there is a time to go smoke your cigar.

The 'whyness' of many recent events has been overthought. In fact, I would add that the logistics and military strategy have been much more interesting than the politics and the shifting alliances, although the latter have been frisky, no doubt.

I also suspect this explains much of the American attitude - perceived as cavalier insouciance, but, in fact, impatience with the obvious.

10/16/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Red A said...

Prediction: The first country to have it's cyberspace deleted will be Taiwan at the behest of China.

What could the EU or UN do about that?

10/19/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

James Kielland,

Uh, James, there is new science out.

Drugs do not cause addiction.

People take drugs to solve problems. The same kinds of problems doctors prescribe drugs for.

The only error "addicts" make is not getting their drugs from a government approved source.

10/20/2005 10:23:00 AM  

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