Saturday, October 1, 2016

Today is the day the internet died

As Churchill once said in a different context:
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
A brief history:

The internet really began in the 80s, with the creation of Internet Protocols (TCP/IP), interconnectivity of networks, commercial ISPs, and the world wide web.  Since 1998 the management of IP addresses (that weird number that identifies your network and computer, looking something like that you see occasionally if you are a casual user) and Domain Names (the people friendly version of the IP address, for example has been contracted by the US Department of Commerce to ICANN, (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit based in California.  ICANN has operated for the past thirty-five years or so with very little government interference and very few complaints.  I would venture to guess that very few people even know it exists.  ICANN and the internet naming system were created and funded by the United States taxpayer.  One could argue that the whole system is owned by the American people.

The problem in the minds of some, however, is that the system is run by the United States.  Never mind that the internet may be the freest system of exchanging ideas in the history of humanity, it is run by the US.  This apparently doesn't sit well with some foreign governments who think that they should have a say in what is done.  To this end, the Obama Administration has unilaterally decided to turn over control of the system to the United Nations.  It hasn't been specifically said that the UN will run the system in the future, but it can only be run by a government entity, otherwise it becomes subject to  anti-trust regulations and would immediately be in violation of the rules of most countries that have anti-trust laws on the books. 

So what's the problem with the UN running the show?  Well, for one, governments like China, Russia, North Korea, and other dictatorships now have a voice in who gets access to what.  Criticize the Russian government, they have a say in whether you get a domain name and access.  Does this seem like a good idea, to have dictatorships with no history of freedom of speech having a say in who gets access to mass communications?

For two, Progressive policies include things like making "hate speech" illegal.  UN control over domain name access could result in the shutting down of any website that they deem to be hateful.  What is hateful?  A short list of what is considered hate speech in some countries includes criticism of Islam, criticism of the man made global warming theory, criticism of LGBT movements, and even discussion of biological differences between races or genders.  There has been a significant movement on the left to criminalize disagreement on global warming, there have been boycotts of North Carolina because they passed a law saying that cities could not require businesses to allow men to use women's bathrooms based purely on "self identification", and college professors have been fired for suggesting that there are biological differences between various races and genders.  An internet controlled by the Progressives at the United Nations could very easily be an internet where speech deemed unacceptable by a slim majority of those in control is banned on the only forum that allows for easy and accessible debate and promulgation of ideas.

Meanwhile, one might ask the question, "What freedoms will be enhance worldwide by this transfer?" What freedoms is United States currently preventing people from exercising by controlling the root of the internet ourselves? Is there actually a problem here?  The United States, almost alone in the world, has a strong tradition of freedom of speech, a tradition unmatched even in the other Western democracies.  Why turn over control of the primary means of speech to those who don't value it as we do?

Second question, why or what gives the president the authority to give away something that was created and paid for by Americans? Is there any president or constitutional Authority at all for the present to give away American stuff?

This is an issue that seems to have flown pretty much under the radar, probably because it is a technologically complicated concept which doesn't lend itself to easy explanation.  It is, however, vitally important to free speech and continued debate over ideas.  If this transfer is not stopped I'd be willing to bet that within ten years the internet will no longer be nearly as free as it is now, with dissenting opinions to the Progressive ideology being blocked.  Today is the day that the President is supposedly making that transfer.  I don't know the details, maybe he is just announcing it.  Who actually starts controlling it and when is a bit of a mystery to me.  Congress can block this by passing bills prohibiting the transfer although they would have to be veto proof.  They could also strip funding for the transfer.  Presumably someone could take the issue to court and I hope they do.  I would donate to that fund.

I don't know what can be done but I emailed all three of my representatives (Progressives all in my state) yesterday.  Might be too little, too late, but I guess we do what we can.

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