If you think the great firewall of Thailand restricts your access and freedom on the internet, you may not have seen anything yet. A meeting under way in Dubai threatens yet again to place all of the internet in the hands of a UN body. The lead members of this telecoms summit have worked in the shadows, but make no secret of their aims. China, Russia and a number of Mideast countries want to impose crushing information bans. Their goal is to make one government's protest into everyone's mandatory censorship.
The meeting is called the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT). Its stated purpose is to "upgrade" the little-known, 147-year-old agency now under UN aegis, the ITU. This vital, quiet International Telecommunication Union was known for decades as the agency keeping the mail and telephones working across international borders. It assures that mail from Taiwan reaches China, that telephone calls from Pakistan connect to India.
This week and next, some governments propose to extend the ITU's authority to the internet. According to several proposals leaked from secretive committees drawing up the new rules, the regulations try to put all internet regulation under the ITU. The UN body would also assume the dubious right to tax internet service providers, and companies providing content, including search engines and media groups.
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