Will the Powers That Be Restrict the Internet?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary The U.S. government is sending a 100 member delegation to the United Nations International Telecommunication Union convention to be held December 3-14, in Dubai. Why such a large, high-profile delegation? The U.S. government wants to prevent the International Telecommunications Regulation treaty from being amended. Signed by all nations in 1988, this treaty has allowed all forms of telecommunications, including the Internet, to be free of government control and government interference over international boundaries. Because of this treaty, the Internet has been able to develop they way it has to allow freedom of communication to occur for 24 years. Of course, this does not stop national governments from censoring the Internet if they so choose to do so. This treaty simply allows for the Internet to have the freedom of being able to function as a free agent from country to country. Because of the treaty, there are as few international restrictions as possible on the Internet.

Problem is that there are a growing number of governments that want a more restrictive treaty for the Internet. The two leading countries that want more restrictions on the Internet are China and Russia. Why is not hard to figure out. China has the infamous fire wall—a massive computer censorship network that deletes, blacks out, and seeks all those Internet users who might “cause instability.” Russia recently passed a more restrictive Internet law in order to prevent certain information from getting into Russia, and also to intimidate political and religious dissidents. The Russian government is trying to learn how to control the Internet from the Chinese government. A number of other countries are equally calling for more government intrusion into the Internet. Of course, the United States has allies that want to keep the present treaty intact. Even so, there are some countries that may want more control over the Internet for their own national policies.

This would be extremely dangerous. If the treaty were changed so that more countries can control the content of information that can come in and go out, then the whole free exchange of ideas, the freedom to allow all information, and the means to keep a free press and flow of information will be badly compromised. The Internet serves as a conduit for freedom of the press simply because Internet users can read from the leading newspapers from around the world in the push of a button. If this becomes restricted then freedom of the press can be compromised in more than one country. This is a danger that the U.S. government does not want to see. There is a lot riding on whether the treaty as we know it remains the same, or bows to a new order.

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