While the Senate engaged in overriding Obama’s veto to allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, the entire Congress refused to act to keep the internet under united States control. Today, October 1st, is the day the control shifts from the united States, since the contract with ICANN operating under the Commerce Department ended on September 30th. Who will exactly gain control of the internet is sketchy. However, John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, postulates it will only be time before the UN totally takes over the internet giving hostile foreign governments a voice regarding internet content.
Two of the biggest issues with “handing over the internet” to the world is national security and the infringement of communication internationally, particularly regarding the freedom of speech. What does that mean for bloggers, citizen journalists, alternative media, and those who use the internet for functional purposes? It means more restriction for accessing information, more exposure to hackers stealing sensitive identity information, and basic censorship. How can one come to that conclusion? The future countries shaping the internet will be China, Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
In the Breitbart article, each of the five nations are evaluated to show how their internal policies could shape the future of the internet once out of US control. Let’s laundry list the problems of each nation to show how each could shape the internet we know today into the censored, stifled, shell of an internet in the future.
- known as one of the world’s worst countries for internet freedom;
- exposed users to “middle man” attacks by falsifying digital security certificates for sites like Google;
- the “Great Firewall of China” prevents the citizens from accessing global content the Politburo disapproves;
- Chinese government banned online news reporting, meaning websites could only post government approved news;
- persecution and prosecution of “bloggers,” independent news analysis, etc. under charges of “inciting subversion,” even when a Nobel Prize winner;
- Chinese government banned citizens from reporting news gathered through social media; spreading “fake news” is a crime;
- Not all “rules” for the internet in China are written and “rules” change frequently;
- China believes their model should be followed worldwide.
- Russia is already working with China to more heavily censor the internet;
- Russian authoritarians already believe “internet freedom” is western code language, aka US language, for imposing “cultural hegemony” upon the rest of the world;
- a law enacted by Vladimir Putin requires bloggers with 3,000 or more readers to register with the government, including providing names and home addresses;
- Online writers can be punished for “spreading false information,” and once charged, it is “guilty until proven innocent” for the offender;
- in 2015, Russian Internet censorship grew by 90%, with the sharing of banned content or even liking banned content resulting in penalties including prison time;
- Putin described the entire internet as a “CIA plot designed to subvert regimes like his. There will be quite a few people involved in the new multi-national Internet control agency who think purging the Web of American influence is a top priority”;
- the Russian government has requested ISPs to block opposition websites “during times of political unrest, in addition to thousands of bans ostensibly used for security, crime-fighting, and anti-pornography purposes”;
- the majority of Russia’s population supports censorship of the Internet when it involves political stability.
- Turkey is an Islamic State operating under the Sharia;
- Turkey has banned social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, citing political reasons;
- the Turkish Telecom authority can issue bans without warning to offending sites and without a court order;
- Turkey is seen as the “world leader in blocking Twitter accounts” as well as guilty of shutting down the social media site completely;
- Criticizing the Turkish government online results in punishment ranging from lost employment to criminal charges, and Turks find trolling by loyal government supporters results in a visit from the police;
- Turkish law makes it a crime to insult the president;
- Turkey has great concerns about “backdoors” that allow citizens to circumvent government censorship;
- censorship laws are aimed at intimidating dissidents and encouraging self-censorship.
- Another country that is an Islamic State operating under the Sharia;
- online dissident activity can result in jail time and public flogging;
- applies same standards to combat online extremism and disrupt terrorist networks to nonviolent liberal activities and human rights defenders;
- has blocked over 400,000 sites “including any that discuss political, social or religious topics incompatible with the Islamic beliefs of the monarchy”;
- frequently block messaging apps and voice-over-IP services such as FaceTime and Skype;
- many Saudis actively participate in making requests to censor the internet, amounting to hundreds of requests per day with religious figures supplying many of the requests;
- government defends censorship claiming defense of Islamic values;
- the Saudi government, like Turkey, has concerns about “backdoors” that allow citizens to circumvent government censorship.
- recognized as the most secretive government in the world;
- internet as we know it is nonexistent since their internet only connects with government propaganda and surveillance;
- computers in the “internet” cafes boot up using customized Linux operating system called “Red Star”;
- citizens can only access the closed internet, Kwangmyong, through one state-run provider, but “privileged” families are able to access the real internet;
- Kwangmyong has only 5,000 active sites with content being “state-monitored messaging and state supplied media”;
- Individuals contributing to these sites can be sent to re-education camps for making typos;
- banned Wi-Fi hotspots at foreign embassies to avoid “contamination” of their State controlled “intranet”;
- North Korea is seen as a “model to be emulated” by other countries run by authoritarian regimes.
As the article at Breitbart indicated:
Also, North Korea has expressed some interest in using the Internet as a tool for economic development, which means there would be more penetration of the actual global network into their society. They’ll be very interested in censoring and controlling that access, and they’ll need a lot more registered domains and IP addresses… the very resource Obama wants America to surrender control over.
Bottom line: contrary to left-wing cant, there is such a thing as American exceptionalism – areas in which the United States is demonstrably superior to every other nation, a leader to which the entire world should look for examples. Sadly, our society is losing its fervor for free expression, and growing more comfortable with suppressing “unacceptable” speech, but we’re still far better than anyone else in this regard.
In summary, if we look at the entire world and its governments in totality, there are more governments interested in curtailing freedom of speech in its various forms than protecting it for reasons that range from political instability to security to religion. This is where the united States stands apart in its exceptionalism — the protection of the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. However, many in the united States are losing their love for free speech and expression, becoming more comfortable with political correctness, censoring “offensive” speech, and curtailing “unacceptable” speech. Yet, the united States still surpasses other nations in this regard.
With Obama taking control of internet domains out of the hands of the united States and handing it to an international body, the face of the internet will change as well as the information we are able to share, access, and create. This has massive implications for everyone who uses the internet. Unfortunately, what history has taught us is once something is lost, rarely is it ever reacquired. If Hussein Soetoro succeeds in ceding control of the internet from the united States, an international body will not ever return control of the internet to the US, thereby relinquishing the ability to “control” and “restrict” content. We will all see drastic changes swiftly. And, there will be nothing to be done about it.