Wednesday, July 27, 2005

If It Ain't Broke, Let The U.N. Break It

In a sign of the brilliant planning that typifies the United Nations, the World Summit of the Information Society is being held in Tunisia, drawing the ire of free speech advocates and human rights groups.
"Putting a summit on the future of Internet in society in a country like Tunisia is like holding an environmental summit in a nuclear power plant," says Alexis Krikorian, director of Freedom to Publish, International Publishers Association in Geneva. "We believe it is a very inappropriate place for such a meeting to take place."
(Actually, Alexis, it's not like that at all; in fact, nuclear power could do a great deal to help the environment...but that's another post for another time).
Says the 2005 report of Reporters Without Borders, a group that monitors press freedom around the world, "It is a cruel irony that Tunisia will host the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in November 2005."
The meeting location is a major snafu that is par for the course for a UN that has Sudan on the Human Rights Commission, but it will be a far bigger scandal if we let the notoriously corrupt, inefficient, U.S.-hating international body anywhere near a leadership role on any aspect of the Internet.

The greatest irony of all is that the Summit is aimed at fixing a problem that doesn't exist:
The main item on the agenda is getting some influence, if not outright control, of the process by which ICANN and its predecessor has structured the World Wide Web since the 1980s. ICANN, which severed its final links to the U.S. government last year, is a non-profit that decides such issues as what a country's Internet suffix should be (.cn for Canada, for instance, versus .ch for China).

While supporters argue that ICANN has performed well in keeping the sprawling World Wide Web stable, ceding such power to an organization that grew out of an American government agency has proven controversial, particularly among non-English speaking nations.

So, the indictment against ICANN is that it has American roots. Oh, and there's - umm, well - did I mention that ICANN has American roots? And that's a problem because - ummm- say, did you see that Tiger Woods? Wow, what a golfer...

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