In South Korea on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the Internet “needs rules to be able to flourish and work properly.” He is advising it be positioned under United Nations rule.
I don’t think anyone would argue that rules are implemented in almost every aspect of our lives and that they are needed. What frightens many Americans, however, are whether or not their rights will be infringed upon due to the watchful eye of the government and/or if it is just a tactic to gain an economic slice of the Internet pie.
Explaining the applicability of international law to the Internet, Kerry goes on to say, “As I’ve mentioned, the basic rule of international; law apply in cyberspace. Acts of aggression are not permissible. And countries that are hurt by an attack have a right to respond in ways that are appropriate, proportional, and that minimize harm to innocent parties. We also support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace. We view these as universal concepts that should be appealing to all responsible states, and they are already gaining traction.”
Kerry has a point about international cyber attacks. Take the Sony Saga, for example. Most of us may remember North Korea not being too pleased with Sony Pictures last November when they were about to release a comedy spoof about the assassination of North Korea’s leader. Not finding it one bit funny, North Korea launched a devastating cyber attack on American soil leaving a company devastated and Americans Shocked.
But, would putting the Internet under the UN umbrella do one thing to stop such attacks? Would giving government control over the internet do much to detour terrorist activities, domestic or foreign?
Let’s see what Kerry say’s about this. “First, no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages or impedes the use of another country’s critical infrastructure. Second, no country should seek either to prevent emergency teams from responding to a cyber-security incident, or allow its own teams to cause harm. Third, no country should conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information for commercial gain. Fourth, every country should mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from its soil, and they should do so in a transparent, accountable and cooperative way. And, fifth, every country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyber-attack.”
To add emphasis to his proposition he stated, “I guarantee you if those five principles were genuinely and fully adopted and implemented by countries, we would be living in a far safer and far more confident cyber-world.”
You can’t argue the logic, in a perfect world. But we do not live in a perfect world. As unpleasant as it may sound, we live in a fallen world of deceit and war… country against country, race against race, man against man. So can placing the internet under the authority of the United Nations do more than equal Big Brother watching our every move, regulating our freedoms and taxing what is now provided free for all?
Since the Clinton administration, the internet has been open and privatized. “It proliferated globally as it migrated farther away from government control—bringing freedom and prosperity to billions…it grew from a mere 88,000 users in the late 1980’s, to more than 3 billion today,” reports The Washington Post.
By the year 2022, it is estimated that the Internet will generate over $14 trillion. To say that the Internet was the all-time single best story of success would be an understatement in my estimation. Would it be a stretch, then, to suggest that government might seek ways to gain possession of such an asset buy imposing unnecessary rules?
The movement for Net Neutrality’s main goal is FCC oversight of the Internet. In fact, The Washington Post reported in February, that the FCC classified “Internet providers as Public Utilities…The new rules will promote an Internet that’s “fast, fair and open,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
The FCC’s new rules, however, can reverse years of very minimal regulations and could have, even if unintended, undesirable side affects.
There is no clear image of what justifies these new imposed regulations. “The FCC plan bars companies such as Verizon and Comcast — Internet Service Providers — from blocking any Internet connection. But there was never any support for this sort of censorship, and the agency’s press release contains no evidence that it is widespread. ‘It’s a red herring,’ says Brookings Institution economist Robert Litan.
This ‘red herring could end up costing consumers. If a company such as Netflix does not live up to their end of the bargain and pay their costs, someone surly will. “In practice, there could be massive cross-subsidization…Promoted as protecting the ‘little guy,’ net neutrality may do the opposite,” says The Washington Post.
While the government promises not to take on Utility Style pricing regulations, there is really nothing to stop them.
So, while cyber-security is a serious matter and, without question, needs serious attention, will it be done at the expense of consumers current freedoms and will it dig deeply into those same consumers purse-strings? While John Kerry would say absolutely not, that placing the Internet under the UN umbrella would only offer us more protections, there are many others who are not that confident and see this as nothing more that an attempt at eventual absolute control.
Listen to Kerry’s Speech to South Korea: