Bush wants control of the Internet!
No big deal, right? After all, the U.S. has had control of the ICANN computers, in a manner of speaking. CNN gives us a bit of background:
The computers in question serve as the Internet's master directories and tell Web browsers and e-mail programs how to direct traffic. Internet users around the world interact with them every day, likely without knowing it. Policy decisions could at a stroke make all Web sites ending in a specific suffix essentially unreachable. [...]
Thursday's declaration means Commerce would keep that control [of ICANN], regardless of whether and when those conditions [previously specified for ICANN] are met.
That's when the alarm bells started ringing.
If you've ever read the Project for the New American Century's (PNAC's) white paper entitled "Rebuilding America's Defenses", maybe the sirens started ringing in your head as well. Here's a portion of pages 11-12, where PNAC begins to lay out the groundwork necessary to achieve their pax americana:
ESTABLISH FOUR CORE MISSIONS for U.S. military forces:
defend the American homeland;
fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;
perform the "constabulary" duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions;
transform U.S. forces to exploit the "revolution in military affairs;"
To carry out these core missions, we need to provide sufficient force and budgetary allocations. In particular, the United States must: [...]
CONTROL THE NEW "INTERNATIONAL COMMONS" OF SPACE AND "CYBERSPACE," and pave the way for the creation of a new military service - U.S. Space Forces with the mission of space control.
My first thought, upon reading the CNN article, was to wonder who the Secretary of Commerce was. Was he in good company as a PNAC signatory, with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Khalilzhad, Pearle et al? Well, a cursory google told me that the Commerce Secretary is Carlos Gutierrez, and other than hanging with a bad crowd, he doesn't have any obvious PNAC affiliations, and hasn't autographed any of their propaganda/policies.
I decided to hit Google News, and see what others might be saying about this story. Oh my!
The Register, a British Tech publication, had this to say:
Bush administration annexes control of the Internet
An extraordinary statement by the US government has sent shockwaves around the Internet world and thrown the future of the network into doubt.
In a worrying U-turn, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) has made it clear it intends to retain control of the Internet's root servers indefinitely. It was due to relinquish that control in September 2006, when its contract with overseeing body ICANN ended.
The decision - something that people have long feared may happen - will not only make large parts of the world furious but also puts ICANN in a very difficult position. The organisation has slowly been expanding out of its California base in an effort to become an international body with overall responsibility for the Internet.
The US government is professing its full backing for ICANN (which it created) at the same time that it awards itself control of the Net's foundations, which will have the inevitable effect of pulling the organisation back into the US.
That's disturbing enough. The U.S. had planned to relinquish total control of ICANN to the international community, possibly the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) body of the United Nations. Oh my, not those pesky folks at the UN. Where's Bolton when we need him?
Well, for now, we've got the Commerce Department. They introduced the Bush administration's intentions with a nice little powerpoint presentation that seems to have been put together for the Wireless Communications Association International 2005 Annual Conference. And look who's on page 2!
It's our fearless leader, about to discuss the Internets! Here's what The Register had to say about that:
But what is most disturbing about Gallagher's presentation, is how it endlessly refers to the president. The first slide has a picture of George Bush. The second begins "Thanks to the president's policies, America's economy is strong." The next slide is "The president's broadband vision." The next slide leads with a quote from Bush and two pictures of him. And on and on it goes. There is barely a single slide that doesn't quote from the president.
Clearly the Internet has entered the Bush administration's vision and the resulting DoC statement - which boldly tells the rest of the world that the US will continue to run the Internet and everyone will just have to lump it - is very in keeping with how the US government is currently run.
The big question now is whether the rest of the world will be cowed. ICANN has yet to release a statement on the DoC's surprise declaration but it knows which side its bread is buttered on and so will probably make a careful and broadly supportive statement.
This move clearly has the Bush administration's fingerprints all over it, as evidenced by the Commerce Department's presentation. Likewise, as PNAC is all over the White House, PNAC is leaving skid marks as well.
I'm alarmed, and I think we need to keep our eyes on this story. The implications of strict U.S. control over what web sites could potentially be delivered to users is significant. Think about it. If the rest of the world is blocked from input into ICANN, ICANN (and our Commerce Department) could ultimately decide which websites can be viewed by the world's users. Another path this leads me to is the PATRIOT Act. Can anyone who's more familiar with the act than I am fill me in on what references it may have regarding internet usage or implementation? I could be totally off base on that one, but it's crossed my mind, and I don't have time to research it at the moment.
Is this the first step towards U.S. government control of the internets?