William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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UNDER THE RADAR – AT 10:26 A.M. ET:  One of the worst things the Obama administration has done – and the whole list is very long – is to grovel before the UN, one of the most corrupt organizations in the world.  We're told this is part of Obama's "engagement strategy," but I fail to see any gain. 

Gains from "engagement" come when we're willing to use our power to back up our position.  With the way Obama is going, we soon won't even have that power.

There is a new threat from the UN, and a grave one.  Superlative historian Arthur Herman warns of a threat to the freedom of the internet.  That freedom has made possible a revolution in communications and the flow of ideas, and has served as a power counterweight to the entrenched power of the mainstream media.  It has also served as a thorn in the side of dictators.  There are elements at the UN who want to curtail the internet, and to shape it to the interests of regimes that hold sway in the UN's corridors.  Naturally, the Obamans are doing nothing about this.

Few Americans realize it, but the United Nations is driving to take control over the Internet. You remember, the folks who want a worldwide income tax and who put Syria and Iran on their Human Rights Committee.

And if delegates have their way at next week’s World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai, the man in charge of the Web will be a Soviet-trained apparatchik from Cold War days.

Don’t count on the Obama-appointed US delegate to stop the threatened changes in how the Internet works, and how much power governments have to decide what their citizens see on the World Wide Web. Pushing the agenda at Dubai are Russia and China.

And anything China, Russia and the United Nations agree on can’t be good for America — or the cause of freedom.

“The Internet stands at a crossroads,” is how Vint Cerf, one of the ’Net’s founders, put it in a New York Times piece back in May. Events in Dubai, he wrote, could “take away the Internet as you and I have known it.”

Indeed, the meeting could well decide whether freedom or totalitarianism prevails in the 21st century.

The core threat is to change the rules by which the LA-headquartered nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names administers the Web. Since its birth in 1998, ICANN has worked hard to make the Internet as free and widely accessible as possible — raising the ire of dictators around the world.

The thugocrats want key decisions about how the Web works handed over to a UN body, the International Telecommunications Union, where individual countries will have an equal vote on any new rules, regardless of whether their delegates know anything about the ’Net. (Most of the calls made by ICANN are done by engineers who have background in cyber issues.)...

...The big backers of this rule change are — no surprise — China and Russia. Their proposed “International Code of Conduct for Information Security” would wreck the ’Net as a source of free and accessible information for people around the world and turn it into one more means by which governments can snoop on their citizens and dictate what they read or see, and when.

But China and Russia have still bigger plans. They see the battle over Internet governance as a way to extend their geo-political reach at the expense of the United States, the chief guardian of the Internet’s libertarian ethos.

And...

Then there’s the man who will be in charge of Dubai’s new rules as head of the ITU: Hamadoun Touré, a Soviet-trained graduate of Moscow Tech. That’s about as close to having a KGB plant run the Internet as you can get.

So what is Uncle Sam doing about it? The State Department’s delegate to the conference, Terry Kramer, says the United States won’t agree to handing over control of the Internet to the ITU. But he also says America won’t try to control the agenda: “We don’t want to come across like we’re preaching to others.”

Americans need to tell him: Preach away, dude. If this battle decides whether freedom or totalitarianism rules the 21st century, we need to make sure freedom wins.

COMMENT:  Fine column.  You should circulate it to friends.  One of the great lies of history is that intellectuals love freedom.  Some do and some definitely don't.  So don't be suprised if some international "intellectuals" support the UN in its censorship efforts.  After all, we don't want the masses confused with too many ideas.

Today the internet is remarkably free.  It has allowed sites like this to operate, and to transmit to readers all over the world.  We can only wonder what tomorrow will bring, and whether a new generation of Americans, brainwashed in our left-wing colleges, will even care.  It's so easy, after all, to live under totalitarianism.  It's as easy as being a child, with mama making all the decisions. 

November 29, 2012