May 27, 2012
China, Russia, Brazil, India and other UN members are backing a proposal to hand over regulation of the internet to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The House of Representatives will vote on the measure this week. It is reported that the legislation faces an uphill battle.
The proposal would give the United Nations control over cybersecurity, data privacy, technical standards and the web address system. The present system is operated by a “multi-stakeholder” approach that gives control to nonprofits instead of governments.
Larry Strickling, who heads up the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, told The Hill the measure would impose “top-down regulation where it’s really the governments that are at the table, but the rest of the stakeholders aren’t.”
Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio said earlier this month that China and Russia are “not exactly bastions of Internet freedom.” Mitt Romney is considering Rubio as his vice president choice.
Google helped China build an internet firewall that censors what goes in and out of the country. Russia has imposed laws requiring ISPs to implement technology that identifies, tracks and punishes dissidents.
In 2011, then-Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin announced his support for an internet takeover by the United Nations and backed the International Telecommunication Union, at the time a little known organization. It is a specialized agency of the United Nations, an extension of the International Telegraph Union established in 1865.
Following Putin’s announcement, a number of authoritarian countries created a document entitled “The International Code of Conduct for Information Security” and submitted it to the United Nations in September 2011.
In April, H.R. 628 was introduced in response to the ITU. The bill states that “it is the sense of the House of Representatives that if a resolution calling for endorsement of the proposed international code of conduct for information security or a resolution inconsistent with the principles above comes up for a vote in the United Nations General Assembly or other international organization, the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations or the United States representative to such other international organization should oppose such a resolution.”
The resolution was referred to committee on April 19, 2012, and has a 28% of passage, according to Govtrack.us, a website that posts information on bills introduced to Congress.