The world's tyrants were thwarted last week in their efforts to take over the internet using the UN as their willing proxy. As I wrote before the process concluded, fascist governments know the free flow of information is a threat to their power and they want to strangle it before it undermines them completely.
Paul Volcker's recent report on the United Nations Oil for Food scandal taught us a great deal about how the U.N. works. Ten billion dollars worth of Iraqi oil was illegally smuggled to adjacent nations. Saddam Hussein collected $229 million in bribes from 139 of 248 companies involved in the oil business and $1.5 billion in kickbacks and illegal payments from 2,253 firms out of 3,614 providing humanitarian goods under the U.N. program. The U.N., which supervised and controlled the Oil for Food program, did nothing about any of it. ...
Indeed, last Tuesday Mr. Annan took action to reinstate U.N. Deputy Director Joseph Stephanides, who was fired six months ago for illegal bidding procedures. It seems that Mr. Annan didn't think what had happened in the Oil for Food program was really that bad after all. Or to put it our own perspective, Dennis Kozlowski stole $600 million from Tyco and got eight to 25 years in prison; Kofi Annan supervised more than $12 billion in international theft and will stay in his job.
All of which explains why allowing the United Nations to be in charge of running the Internet is a very bad idea. ...
Old Europe and the despotic nations want exactly that--international Internet content control. And they have convinced the EU establishment that U.N. control of the Internet would be just and appropriate. The last United Nations World Summit on the Internet--held in 2003--concluded that "governments should intervene . . . to maximize economic and social benefits and serve national priorities." The report of the U.N. Working Group on Internet Governance says it would have "respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, " explaining that meant "multilingual, diverse, and culturally appropriate content" on the Internet.
And what is "culturally appropriate" content? If your nation is a free society--America, Ireland, Australia--a free and unregulated-content Internet is a good thing. For dictatorships and state controlled societies--the former USSR, China or Cuba--it is a catastrophe, for allowing citizens free access to information puts your government at risk. And if you are in between--a socialist government like France or Germany--U.N. control is a good thing because government control is always better than unregulated markets.
The internet is a great machine for change and it's only a matter of time before those who benefit from the status quo make serious efforts to thwart it. Fortunately, I think they're already too late.