The World Conference on International Telecommunications is headed to Dubai, the land of sun, fun and human slavery to try and rush through a proposal to give the International Telecommunication Union regulatory control over the internet.
The list of parties currently worried about an ITU power grab include obscure right-wing organizations such as the European Parliament and Google.
The ITU would like to push beyond its telecommunications mandate and into broadband internet territory. The key is in the treaty updates which some countries, especially the Muslim world, Russia and China would like to use as a back door for regulating the internet.
Russia, China and the Muslim world all have big things at stake in broadband. Vladimir Putin has launched a domestic crackdown on the internet. The People’s Republic of China is struggling with its own censorship campaign. And the Muslim world is obsessed with imposing its theocratic supremacism on the the entire world.
And yet the entire debate over the ITU’s power raises an important question about the legitimacy of the entire United Nations.
“The argument is that entrusting the governance of the network to an organisation in which Robert Mugabe’s vote counts for as much as the UK’s would be like giving a delicate clock to a monkey,” a Guardian article says. And that’s a good point. But if the governance of the internet is too delicate a thing to be entrusted to a majority vote of dictators, then why is the governance of the world not too delicate a thing to entrust to the United Nations?