Saturday, November 17, 2007

If the Internet ain't broke, don't fix it!

Recently, The United Nations sponsored a conference on US control of certain important parts of the Internet. For the most part this conference and its aims represent the clearest example of the dysfunctional relationship the US has with the world and how in this particular case, as in a few others, it doesn’t matter what the facts are only that the US be made to appear the selfish Super-Power.

The primary reason for this conference is benign enough. The idea is that control over the internet be international. That is all well and good and something as borderless as the Internet certainly deserves as much international influence as is prudent -PRUDENT being the key word.

Calls to internationalize instantly or at a rapid pace is not prudent. At the center of this discussion is ICANN or the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers, a California based non-profit that controls and assigns all domain names. Being a US non profit some feel that US can and does exercise too much control over the Internet. Fair enough, but on balance what has been the record to date of that influence?

Internationalization proponents are quick to point to the sluggish way internet becomes available to developing nations and the language barriers that an all English system provides. The problem is not with the veracity of these issues; rather it is with the solution. Internationalization proponents obviously see a more international solution that will have either some kind of defused oversight (think an EU type bureaucracy with infinite members) or slightly more central oversight (think the UN). The problem with each of these solutions is the track record of efficiency. The EU can be at times paralyzed with inefficiency even when dealing with issues that are broadly accepted. The UN is only able to be effective when there is complete agreement by the big five. This agreement is very rare. Both of these oversight solutions promise sluggish action and there-by paralyze the very solutions to the issues they portend to promote.

The US track record on the other hand speaks for itself. It is the track record that has brought us to this point of global interconnectedness. It is the track record that stands in bright contrast to the other options. It is the track record that has facilitated global conversations from the far reaches of the world allowing better understanding. The current US based solution is not perfect and there is need for international involvement but the current US based solutions is not broken either. Therefore I see no need to fix it.

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