Internet Free Speech

September 27th, 2004 at 7:21 am by David Farrar

There is an ongoing battle over Internet governance, which is now being investigated by a UN working group. Most western countries want the naming and addressing system kept in the private sector, while some other countries want a inter-governmental body such as the ITU to perform this function.

There is an interesting article on Icann Watch about a recent UN meeting, and the Brazilian Government’s view.

Brazil said “It is a myth that an intergovernmental approach will jeopardize the free speech on the internet. Free speech is endangered when one government controls the system, not when all do.”

I could not disagree more strongly. The nature of international politics is you will have deals such as “I’ll vote for a domain name tax to fund third world computers, if you vote to support this ban on domain names which make fun of my President”.

I could also easily see coalitions between religious states, agreeing to push for domain names which blaspheme, or which host material which blasphemes, to be banned. Of course it won’t work, but it will impose huge costs, and it will stifle what we have.

Few things concern me as much, as this attempt by some countries through the UN to “govern” the Internet.

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