UNITED NATIONS NOW SEEKS TOTAL CONTROL OVER THE INTERNET
December 2, 2012 7 Comments
Next week the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union will meet in Dubai to figure out how to control the Internet. Representatives from 193 nations will attend the nearly two week long meeting, according to news reports.
“Next week the ITU holds a negotiating conference in Dubai, and past months have brought many leaks of proposals for a new treaty. U.S. congressional resolutions and much of the commentary, including in this column, have focused on proposals by authoritarian governments to censor the Internet. Just as objectionable are proposals that ignore how the Internet works, threatening its smooth and open operations,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla. The Internet is made up of 40,000 networks that interconnect among 425,000 global routes, cheaply and efficiently delivering messages and other digital content among more than two billion people around the world, with some 500,000 new users a day. …
“Proposals for the new ITU treaty run to more than 200 pages. One idea is to apply the ITU’s long-distance telephone rules to the Internet by creating a ‘sender-party-pays’ rule. International phone calls include a fee from the originating country to the local phone company at the receiving end. Under a sender-pays approach, U.S.-based websites would pay a local network for each visitor from overseas, effectively taxing firms such as Google and Facebook. The idea is technically impractical because unlike phone networks, the Internet doesn’t recognize national borders. But authoritarians are pushing the tax, hoping their citizens will be cut off from U.S. websites that decide foreign visitors are too expensive to serve.”
And even Google has already come out against the ITU.
“The ITU is the wrong place to make decisions about the future of the Internet,” says Google. “Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.”
“The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential,” adds Google.
THE UN’S INTERNET GRAB
Leo Tolstoy once said, “Imagine Genghis Khan with a telephone.” Imagine Genghis Khan, or a gaggle of Genghis Khans, running the Internet, and you have a sense of the ideas that will be percolating in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in December.
Delegates from 120 countries will gather under the auspices of the United Nations to consider a plan to take administrative control of the Internet away from the United States and hand it over to an international body run by the UN.
In short, governance of cyberspace will pass from the country that has kept it free and accessible since its creation—the United States—to the same organization that gave us the financial scandals at UNESCO, voted to designate Zionism as racism, and seated China, Syria, and Muammur Qaddafi’s Libya on its Commission on Human Rights.
“The Internet stands at a crossroads,” is how Vint Cerf, one of the Web’s founders, put it in a May New York Times opinion piece. What happens in Dubai, he wrote, could “take away the Internet as you and I have known it.” Those who share his concern cross the ideological divide. Rebecca MacKinnon, of the liberal New America Foundation, and former Bush administration officials, such as Ambassador David Gross, similarly see Dubai as a defining moment, especially because the driving forces behind the meeting’s agenda are Russia and China. Those two nations have established themselves as the world’s worst cybercrime offenders and most systematic suppressers of political dissent on the Internet.
Whoever controls the Internet controls the destiny of nations. Ultimately, how Internet governance gets settled in Dubai and afterward could well determine whether freedom or totalitarianism gains the upper hand in the 21st century.
This all began in 2005, when the United Nations sponsored a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis. That choice of venue was itself rich with irony, since Tunisia’s then dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was the Arab world’s leading censor of the Internet, and the two sponsors of the summit’s trade fair were China’s biggest network companies, Huawei and ZTE. They are the anchors of China’s Great Firewall that keeps out Western ideas and suppresses dissent—and also leaves it free to hack into the secrets of Western governments and corporations more or less at will.
That is precisely the kind of Internet many other countries would like to have, and China emerged from the Tunis meeting as their chief spokesman. Several belong to the so-called G-77 of developing countries, which includes Pakistan, the Philippines, Brazil, and Argentina, as well as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela. They believe that the administration of the World Wide Web by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), headquartered in Los Angeles, isn’t responsive enough to the needs of developing countries, and so they pushed through a paragraph in the Tunis final report that “underlines the need to maximize the participation of developing countries in decisions regarding Internet governance, which should reflect their interests, as well as in development and capacity building”—in other words, in helping governments control what their citizens can see, and can’t see, on the Internet.
The best way to do that, China proposed in the run-up to the Tunis meeting, was to take administrative control of the Internet away from ICANN and hand it over to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Union is a branch of the United Nations in which all countries have an equal vote, whether their delegates know anything about the Internet or not. (Most of the calls made by ICANN are done by engineers who have a background in cyber issues, and who are also—inevitably—trained and educated in the West).
A clear agenda was taking shape, with Chinese help. Free and open access to the Internet was being defined as a “Western” or “Eurocentric” priority that should not be imposed on “developing countries” by a Western institution such as ICANN. Accepting censorship as a governing principle was being defined as showing sensitivity to the needs of the developing world—with a UN-based body as the perfect vehicle for doing it.
Some human-rights groups disagreed. “If we have no freedom of speech,” said one WSIS delegate, a dissident from Zimbabwe, “we can’t talk about who is stealing our food.” But what began in Tunis reached a crescendo in September 2011 in Nairobi, where 2,000 delegates from 100 countries met for an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) under UN auspices. There, Russia rallied around the idea of passing control over to the ITU as well. According to President Vladimir Putin, the goal of the IGF should be “establishing international control over the Internet,” meaning that national governments, not users, would have the final say in the “norms and rules…concerning information and cyberspace.” Not only China, but also Iran, India, Brazil, and South Africa have signed on to the International Telecommunication Union plan.
Nor is the ITU’s current secretary general, Hamadoun Touré, opposed. He graduated from the Technical Institute of Leningrad and Moscow Tech in the Soviet era, and he knows the case against free speech only too well. But he also knows how to couch the case for Internet takeover in terms acceptable to Western liberals.
One term is democracy. As Touré told Vanity Fair, “When an invention becomes used by billions across the world, it no longer remains the sole property of one nation”—meaning the United States. “There should be a mechanism where many countries have an opportunity to have a say. I think that’s democratic. Do you think that’s democratic?”
Another buzzword is security. Everyone worries about proliferation of cybercrime and unauthorized hacking. Just before the Nairobi meeting commenced, Russia and China, backed by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, called for creating an International Code of Conduct for Information Security, ostensibly aimed at curtailing cybercrimes such as hacking and terrorism. One of the code’s provisions would be committing signatories to “curbing the dissemination of information which incites terrorism, secessionism, extremism or undermines other countries’ political, economic, and social stability.”
The goal, in short, will be to force the United States, Canada, and Europe to shut down dissident websites or sites that provide any information another government deems extreme or antisocial. Most Arab countries at the Dubai meeting will go along with this goal, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring, when they learned what can happen if citizens have even limited access to the Web and social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Another key appeal is on multiculturalist grounds. ICANN’s business is largely conducted in English, and until recently the domain names it generated used the Latin alphabet (now they’re available in Arabic, Chinese, and a host of other languages and characters). Critics such as the Internet Governance Project have long argued that the organization has a pro-Western, even pro-American bias. The group even states on its website that “the United States government holds unilateral control of critical Internet resources,” meaning ICANN, “against the will of users and governments in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.”
One could argue, on the other hand, that this alleged tilt toward Western values is something many dissidents in China and Iran might desperately want to increase—just as they probably have a clearer notion of who’s being held against his will, or who’s not, than the IGP does. Still, the diversity argument has many sincere proponents, and the fact is, the United States and Western countries are a major source of the information that authoritarian regimes and others in the developing world find objectionable (as witness the tremendous furor recently over the Innocence of Muslims video).
But handing control over such content to the UN is where even a liberal critic like Rebecca MacKinnon has to draw the line. Former CNN correspondent, author ofConsent of the Networked, and an enthusiast for “democratizing” the Internet, MacKinnon is no fan of ICANN or what she sees as the preponderant role corporate sponsors play in its decisions. Still, she recognizes how China has cleverly used the cultural-bias argument to push for replacing the current “multi-stake holder” model of cyberspace—in which governments have no more say than do engineers, activist groups, and the technology companies who own its biggest servers—with one in which governments will dominate. And many of those governments, she notes, don’t have the consent of their own citizens.
“The UN system’s chronic inability to protect and uphold human rights around the world,” she writes, “and its propensity to empower and legitimize dictators within the global governance system—as well as the lack of technical understanding of how the Internet really works among many countries’ ministers of communications—are good reasons that power over the Internet’s critical resources should be kept out of intergovernmental hands,” and in the hands of ICANN.
In fact, contrary to the multicultural critics, one could argue the key to the success of the Internet lies precisely in its original, American, even capitalist, bias.
The widely circulated story that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep vital computer communications open in the event of a nuclear strike is a myth. The original network built by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the late 1960s had nothing to do with nukes—it was to ease communication among universities doing defense-related research—and was funded, not built, by the government. Nearly all the technology involved, including the first computer hardware and phone lines, was installed by private companies such as Honeywell and AT&T—and when ARPA’s director, Robert Taylor, moved to Xerox, that company developed the first Ethernet to connect different private computer networks.
Indeed, the explosive growth of what had been a government research project has been steadily fueled by U.S. corporations such as CompuServe, universities, and individual engineers such as Stanford’s Vint Cerf, the inventor of the TCP/IP address system, as well as Britain’s Tim Berners-Lee, who in 1990 developed the hyperlink system he dubbed the World Wide Web. The Internet is the one clear, simple, and efficient communications network that everyone depends on, regardless of national origin or ideological orientation. That’s why most American companies who do business on the Internet support the work of open-standards organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and World Wide Web Consortium, as well as ICANN. All three are nonprofit voluntary organizations that answer to no government and state in their charters that they serve the interests of Web users.
By the time ICANN was created in 1998, the Internet had spread from the United States to more than 100 countries. Today it includes some 2 billion users, sharing millions of bytes of data and information every second. Everyone recognizes that it is a truly global institution with no government master. But it also retains its fundamental American character, as a never-ending cascade of what Cerf calls “permissionless innovation.” Users from all over the world are constantly adding to and extending its performance, not to mention its range of services and commodities and new ideas. It is “not merely a radiance of connections; it is a mesh of constant invention,” writes George Gilder in his book Telecosm. “The Internet is yet another demonstration of the triumph of intelligence over time and chaos”—and of the profoundly American principle that freedom is superior to constraint and control.
International bodies such as the Internet Engineering Task Force are important to keeping the Web strong, efficient, and open, but ICANN is crucial. Its job is to oversee the assignment of the unique identifiers essential for the TCP/IP address system. By making sure every computer server or network has a unique Information Protocol address, ICANN is able to ensure that any user gets access to data emanating from that specific address and no other—and can do so from anywhere he or she enters that address on a Web browser, whether it’s to look at a website, download data, send an email, or buy something.
It also makes sure that the number of available domain names and addresses keeps up with the expansion of the Internet—which is one of the issues that has already led to some friction with governments, including that of the United States.* Indeed, if ICANN has any “bias” at all, it is in expanding the Internet and making it more available to users, no matter who or where they are, according to certain rules of the road called the Internet Technical Regulations, set down in an international conference in Melbourne back in 1988.
With ICANN as umpire, the Internet has become the closest thing to a globalized free market the world has ever seen, where individuals anywhere are able to use a basic and neutral set of rules to match their preferences—including buying and selling goods and services. Like any free market, the Internet is subject to abuse and prey to predators, both governmental and nongovernmental. But as the commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, Robert McDowell, notes, thanks to ICANN, the Internet has become “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.”
Others, of course, view that deregulatory narrative not as a success story but as a threat—especially the authoritarian governments who would much prefer having an Internet they can directly police. (Iran, for example, has announced plans to create its own “clean” or halal Internet, which will serve individuals and institutions inside Iran in accordance with Sharia law and remain entirely cut off from the World Wide Web.) But they see replacing ICANN outright with a UN agency subject to their control as politically unfeasible—and also too much work. So they’re looking at a different route. Instead of firing the umpire, they want to seize the rulebook by which he operates. And the place they intend to do that is Dubai.
After the December conference, “the governments of the world will have more power over the Internet than ever before,” warns David Gross, who coordinated the State Department’s communications policy under George W. Bush. What Gross expects is the creation of a new framework under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union—in which nation-states will make the important calls on changing the rules of the road, the International Telecommunication Regulations. These are “the most important and sensitive aspects” of how the Internet is organized, or rather, how it runs itself.
One of those changes would be taking dominion over ICANN’s assignment of identities for the origin and destination of Internet traffic. This could allow governments to force ICANN to erase domains or IP addresses they don’t like, thereby cutting them permanently from the Internet and dumping them down the cybersphere’s memory hole.
Another would be inserting the Chinese- and Russian-sponsored International Code of Conduct for Information Security into the Internet’s rules, which would force its international custodians, including ICANN, to cooperate with governments that want to censor what flows into their country.
The third would radically alter who pays for using the Internet. The Dubai conference will weigh proposals that invoke the principle of “sender party pays,” making content providers such as Google and Yahoo! purchase the right to transmit content to users. “It’s a completely new economic concept to the Internet,” says Gross, “and it could have a radical and profound impact on the economics of the Internet, especially in the developing world.”
The example he likes to use is a poor student in a village in Thailand or Nigeria who wants to download a page from a website he found on Google. As the Internet currently works, he gets the information for free: The only cost is paying for the Internet connection in the host country. “But if Google had to pay someone for the right to send that information,” Gross says, that person might decide not to send it at all. “The eyeballs of a rural person in Thailand to an advertiser aren’t probably worth the trouble.” The result would be to shut down or severely limit access to the Internet in the world’s poorest places—something that several governments might not find so objectionable.
Nor would its effects be limited to places like Thailand and Nigeria. Gross anticipates that “sender party pays” would lead to a multitiered World Wide Web, with different data provided to different users based on their levels of income and on advertising rates. That’s not just a crimp to commerce; it spells an end of Internet democracy.
Gross’s fears, like Rebecca MacKinnon’s, are rooted in the Internet’s possible future. But there’s another older story being played out in Dubai, one familiar even to people who still haven’t decided whether the Internet is a good thing for the culture or not.
Given that Russia and China are prime movers in the bid to wrest Internet oversight from the United States; that their allies include Iran, Syria, and Venezuela; and that ITU’s Touré was trained and taught by Soviet apparatchiks, it’s hard to resist the feeling we’re watching a replay of the North–South debates of the 1970s, when totalitarians used the issue of the inequality of nations to push their real agenda of undermining the power of the United States and the West—not because they were barriers to prosperity, democracy, and free expression, but because they were their chief exponents.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote then: “Our policymakers have yet to learn just how dangerous the world [has] become for a nation like ours, or to see that guarding the language of human rights would play no small part in our defense.” Substitute “Internet” for “language of human rights,” and one has a very clear statement of what’s at stake in the Internet-governance debate.
It’s not at all clear that the officials who will handle the Dubai issue for the Obama administration understand this. A memo issued by the State Department on January 23, 2012, after the Nairobi meeting dismissed the idea that a takeover of the Internet was in the offing. “There are no pending proposals to invest the ITU with ICANN-like government authority,” it states—ignoring the fact that the real issue in Dubai will not be whether the UN agency replaces ICANN but whether member governments can use the UN to hijack the Internet agenda and reduce ICANN to a mere administrator of their collective will.
The same memo insists that the Obama administration must continue to support open access to the Internet and stresses that its efforts to push further “liberalization of international telecommunications networks” would be completely successful at Dubai. But it’s not likely that an administration whose response to Muslim outrage over an allegedly derogatory video on YouTube was to seize and detain its producer is going to be a strong advocate for free speech—or for keeping the Internet free from nation-state control.
The Internet has proven that creativity and innovation flourish best when governments govern least. The United States has a solemn duty to protect the legacy it founded. In that sense, he who controls the Internet does control the destiny of nations—and ultimately the destiny of freedom.
GLOBAL GOVERNMENT NOW SEEKS TOTAL CONTROL OVER THE INTERNET
J. D. Heyes
What is arguably the very last bastion of totally free speech is once again under assault by the world’s tyrants, as the United Nations is now eying regulation of the Internet – as though it was in need of being regulated.
Why? It’s an age-old story.
Leaders of authoritarian regimes the world over hate the free flow of information that is disseminated via the Internet. They hate the fact that they no longer have a monopoly on ideas and opinion within their own country. They see notions of freedom and liberty as a threat. They despise any medium that undermines their grip on power. And their regimes are heavily represented in the U.N., of which the United States (once considered the bastion of liberty and freedom) is the largest contributor.
“Who runs the Internet? For now, the answer remains no one, or at least no government, which explains the Web’s success as a new technology. But as of next week, unless the U.S. gets serious, the answer could be the United Nations,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
Authoritarians seek ways to control free expression, free speech, and individual liberty
A sizable number of the world body’s 193 members simply oppose the open and very uncontrolled nature of the Internet, the paper said, noting the World Wide Web’s interconnected global networks that defy international boundaries and, as such, make it extremely difficult for governments to tax or censor.
For over a year, these authoritarian regimes have lobbied a UN agency known as the International Telecommunications Union to grab the reins of the Internet and take over its management. The organization, which was originally created in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, last wrote a treaty on communications in 1988, years before the commercial Internet developed into a popular communications and commerce medium, and back when telecommunications referred to voice telephone calls routed through national telephone monopolies.
In the coming days, the ITU plans to hold a “negotiating conference” in the emirate of Dubai, say reports. In the past months, rumors have surfaced that a new treaty could be in the offing – one that will no doubt prove disastrous to a free and open Internet.
Most U.S. resolutions, as well as free-market commentary in publications such as the Journal, “have focused on proposals by authoritarian governments to censor the Internet,” the paper reported. “Just as objectionable are proposals that ignore how the Internet works, threatening its smooth and open operations.”
What would be the effect of having the Internet “reviewed” and “regulated” by global bureaucrats, most of whom are sympathetic to, or beholden to, authoritarian regimes bent on stifling free speech, free expression and individual liberty.
The Internet consists of 40,000 networks, interconnected among 425,000 global routes that cheaply and inefficiently deliver messages and digital content to about two billion people around the world every day – with a half-million signing on each day.
Up to now, the Internet has been self-regulating, which has obviously been working just fine (hence the growth figures in the previous paragraph). As it stands, no one has to ask for permission to put up their own blog or website. No government has the ability or right to tell network operators how they should do their jobs.
‘Technology moves faster than any treaty process’
What has transpired is an extremely rare, if virtual, place for innovation that requires no prior permission from a regulatory or government agency or bureaucrat or governing body.
Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman William Kennard pointed out that 90 percent of cooperative “peering” agreements among co-existing networks are “made on a handshake,” adjusting as needs change.
“The Internet is highly complex and highly technical, yet governments are the only ones making decisions at the ITU, putting the Internet at their mercy,” Sally Wentworth of the Internet Societytold the Journal recently. She went on to say that Web developers and engineers who make the Internet work have said it’s “mind boggling” that any government – even a so-called world government – would ever claim the universal right to regulate or manage the Internet.
“Technology moves faster than any treaty process ever can,” Internet Society warned.
Even if the Obama administration hasn’t yet publicly stated its position, liberty-minded officials and lawmakers in Europe (believe it or not) have stepped up to the plate.
The European Parliament has passed a resolution that protests plans by the ITU to seize control of the Internet.
“[The European Parliament] believes that the ITU, or any other single, centralized international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over either Internet governance of Internet traffic flows,” says the resolution, which was passed by a majority of EP representatives, reports said.
Biggest backers of regulation include Russia, China
According to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper:
What’s worrying the EP, along with an unlikely coalition of Google, the U.S. Republican party, organized labor, and Greenpeace, is that the meeting might try and take over regulatory oversight for Internet communications in a closed-door coup. The U.S. government has said it will oppose serious moves to change the current regulatory order, but how effective that will be remains to be seen.
“The resolution of the Parliament is a big success for internet users. This sends a clear and positive signal to the European Commission and the Member States”, said Amelia Andersdotter, MEP for the Pirate Party and co-submitter of the resolution, The Register reported.
Some of the biggest backers of unmitigated Internet regulation include, not surprisingly, the authoritarian regimes of Russia and China.
As we’ve said, the Internet is truly the last bastion of genuinely free speech and expression, not to mention a tremendous creator of commerce and wealth. Regulating the Internet will have exactly the same effect as regulations on industry have had – it will stifle creativity, curb freedoms, kill jobs and destroy economic growth.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this very important issue.
THE UNITED NATIONS ASKS FOR CONTROL OVER THE WORLD’S INTERNET
December 6, 2012
Members of the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) have agreed to work towards implementing a standard for the Internet that would allow for eavesdropping on a worldwide scale.
At a conference in Dubai this week, the ITU members decided to adopt the Y.2770 standard for deep packet inspection, a top-secret proposal by way of China that will allow telecom companies across the world to more easily dig through data passed across the Web.
According to the UN, implementing deep-packet inspection, or DPI, on such a global scale will allow authorities to more easily detect the transferring and sharing of copyrighted materials and other protected files by finding a way for administrators to analyze the payload of online transmissions, not just the header data that is normally identified and interpreted.
“It is standard procedure to route packets based on their headers, after all it is the part of the packet that contains information on the packet’s intended destination,” writes The Inquirer’s Lawrence Lati, “but by inspecting the contents of each packet ISPs, governments and anyone else can look at sensitive data. While users can mitigate risks by encrypting data, given enough resources encryption can be foiled.”
Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist widely regarded as the ‘Father of the Internet,’ spoke out against proposed DPI implementation on such a grandiose scale during an address earlier this year at the World Wide Web Consortium.
“Somebody clamps a deep packet inspection thing on your cable which reads every packet and reassembles the web pages, cataloguing them against your name, address and telephone number either to be given to the government when they ask for it or to be sold to the highest bidder – that’s a really serious breach of privacy,” he said.
Blogger Arthur Herman writes this week for Fox News online that the goal of the delegates at the ITU “is to grab control of the World Wide Web away from the United States, and hand it to a UN body of bureaucrats.”
“It’ll be the biggest power grab in the UN’s history, as well as a perversion of its power,” he warns.
The ITU’s secretary general, Dr. Hamadoun I. Toure, has dismissed critics who have called the proposed DPI model invasive, penning an op-ed this week where he insists his organization’s meeting in Dubai poses “no threat to free speech.”
“It is our chance to chart a globally-agreed roadmap to connect the unconnected, while ensuring there is investment to create the infrastructure needed for the exponential growth in voice, video and data traffic,” Dr. Toure claims of the conference, adding that it presents the UN with “a golden opportunity to provide affordable connectivity for all, including the billions of people worldwide who cannot yet go online.”
Despite his explanation, though, some nation-states and big-name businesses remain opposed to the proposal. The ITU’s conference this week has been held behind closed doors, and representatives with online service providers Google, Facebook and Twitter have been barred from attending.
In a report published this week by CNet, tech journalist Declan McCullagh cites a Korean document that describes the confidential Y.2770 standard as being able to identify “embedded digital watermarks in MP3 data,” discover “copyright protected audio content,” find “Jabber messages with Spanish text,” or “identify uploading BitTorrent users.”
On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a Senate resolution that asks for the American government to oppose any efforts by the United Nations to control the Internet.
GLOBALIST CONTROL FREAKS MEET BEHIND CLOSED DOORS TO DECIDE FATE OF THE INTERNET
December 4, 2012
While the globalist bureaucrats at the United Nations discount the possibility of a “doomsday” internet kill switch scenario, they admit that member states “already have the right, as stated in Article 34 of the Constitution of ITU [the International Telecommunications Union], to block any private telecommunications that appear ‘dangerous to the security of the State or contrary to its laws, to public order or to decency,” says Hamadoun Touré, the ITU Secretary-General.
As for the larger ITU agenda, we are left in the dark because the meetings now underway in Dubai remain secret. Much of the “accompanying proposals from the global community have been kept under lock and key, although some of the positions of nations have been leaked and published online,” writes David Kravets for Wired.
A scattering of documents produced by the globalists are available viadot-nxt.com, an information service covering internet policy and governance.
In February, with the battle smoke of SOPA and PIPA still lingering, the United Nations announced its push for internet governance by the end of the year. In 2011, Russian PM Vladimir Putin said his goal is to impose “international control over the Internet” through the ITU.
“The ITU is working to globalize the radio spectrum, latest-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology along with the internet. It is positioning itself to control next-generation networks, the technology that will replace the current free and open internet,” we explained on February 22.
The ITU treaty negotiated at the behest of the United Nations will radically modify the internet and bring it under control of the global elite. In addition to imposing cyber security mandates, it will outlaw peer-to-peer technologies and impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates, terms and conditions. It will allow transnational corporations to charge fees for “international” internet traffic possibly on a “per-click” basis for certain web destinations.
The ITU will also end the nonprofit status of multi-stakeholder internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – in other words, UN bureaucrats answering to the globalists will control who is allowed to establish a presence on the internet. They will also control the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder groups that develop and configure engineering and technical standards for the internet.
Vint Cerf, a former DARPA program manager considered to be one of the fathers of the internet, sent a message on December 2 to the ITU participants meeting behind closed doors in the monarchical emirate of Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates appears to be a logical choice for the globalists. In November, the UAE issued a decree making it a punishable crime to use “the internet to deride or damage the state or its institutions,” the BBC reported.
“Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries,” Cerf wrote in a post on Google’s official blog. Cerf said more than a thousand organizations from more than 160 countries and thousands of internet users have protested the proposed control freak behavior under discussion behind closed doors.
“Only governments have a vote at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote,” Cerf wrote on November 30, prior to the Dubai meeting.
The ITU has decided to fight back from behind its locked doors. ITU counsellor Richard Hill said the globalist organization is powerless to control networks and, besides, “the right to communicate are already enshrined in UN and international treaties, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which have been taken into account in the ITU’s constitution,” writes Matthew Broersma for TechWeek Europe.
Unlike the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights is not based on inalienable or natural rights. The rights it claims to extend are “only imaginary rights — as imaginary as government authority — and they only exist when and if the United Nations says they do,” writesHumans and Resources, a libertarian organization.
For now, the ITU insists it is powerless because national governments control internet access. This, however, runs contrary to the very nature of the United Nations and its globalist vision and agenda.
“Maybe, Dubai will turn out to be a harmless, if money-wasting exercise that changes nothing,” muses Dan Gillmor of the Guardian. “But given the fear and loathing the open internet has inspired among global interests that see it as a threat more than an opportunity, we should make no such assumptions.”
CLASHES OVER INTERNET RULES TO MARK DUBAI MEETING
By By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.N.’s top telecommunications overseer sought Monday to quell worries about greater Internet controls emerging from global talks in Dubai, but any attempts for major Web regulations will likely face stiff opposition from groups led by a high-powered U.S. delegation.
The 11-day conference, seeking to update codes last reviewed when the Web was virtually unknown, highlights the fundamental shift from tightly managed telecommunications networks to the borderless sweep of the Internet.
Some at the Dubai conference, including a 123-member U.S. delegation with envoys from tech giants such as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., worry that any new U.N. oversight could be used by nations such as China and Russia to justify further tightening of Web blocks and monitoring.
“Love the free and open Internet? Tell the world’s governments to keep it that way,” said a message on the main search page of Google.com with a link for comments directed to the Dubai conference, which opened Monday.
The agenda for the gathering of more than 1,900 participants from 193 nations covers possible new rules for a broad range of services such as the Internet, mobile roaming fees and satellite and fixed-line communications. Questions include how much sway the U.N. can exert over efforts such as battling cyber-crimes and expanding the Internet into developing nations.
The secretary-general of the U.N. International Telecommunications Union, Hamadoun Toure, said that accusations that the meeting could limit Web freedoms are “completely untrue” and predicted only “light-touch” regulations.
“Many countries will come to reaffirm their desire to see freedom of expression embedded in this conference,” he told reporters.
But the head of the American contingent, Ambassador Terry Kramer, said the U.S. would propose taking all Internet-related discussions off the table and concentrating on already regulated services such as phone networks.
“What we don’t want to do is bring in all the private networks, the Internet networks, the government networks, etc.,” he told The Associated Press. “That opens the door to censorship.”
The outcome of the Dubai gathering is far from certain.
More than 900 proposed regulatory changes have been proposed, but details have not been made public. Broad consensus is needed to adopt any items — the first major review of the U.N.’s telecommunications protocols since 1988, well before the Internet age.
The gathering is also powerless to force nations to change their Internet policies, such as China’s notorious “Great Firewall” and widespread blackouts of political opposition sites in places including Iran and the Gulf Arab states. Last week, Syria’s Internet and telephone services disappeared for two days during some of the worst fighting in months to hit the capital, Damascus.
Kramer told reporters last week in Washington that all efforts should be made to avoid a “Balkanization” of the Internet in which each country would impose its own rules and standards that could disrupt the flow of commerce and information.
“That opens the door … to content censorship,” he said.
The International Trade Union Confederation, representing labor groups in more than 150 countries, claimed a bloc that includes China, Russia and several Middle East nations seeks to “pave the way for future restrictions on both Internet content or its users.”
“It is clear that some governments have an interest in changing the rules and regulations of the Internet,” the confederation said in statement Monday.
Another battle that will likely take place in Dubai is over European-backed suggestions to change the pay structure of the Web to force content providers — such as Google, Facebook Inc. and others — to kick in an extra fee to reach users across borders.
“Potentially, the content developers — they could be Googles, they could be universities — would end up being charged potentially to have traffic sent abroad,” said Kramer in Dubai. “Either way, you slow down Internet traffic and you actually exacerbate the digital divide, the income divide, because you have a lot of people who are accessing things for free.”
Advocates of the changes say the money raised could pay to expand broadband infrastructures in developing countries.
Toure said he hoped for a “landmark” accord on trying to bring broadband Internet to developing countries. “The Internet remains out of reach for two-thirds of world’s people,” said Toure, who is from Mali.
The U.N. telecommunications agency dates back to 1865, when the telegraph revolutionized the speed of information. Over the decades, it has expanded to include telephone, satellite and other advances in communications.
RUSSIA, CHINA ALLIANCE WANTS GREATER GOVERNMENT VOICE IN INTERNET OVERSIGHT
DUBAI (Reuters) – A Russia-led proposal calling for sweeping new governmental powers to regulate cyberspace could enable countries to block some Web locations and wrest control of allotting Internet addresses from a U.S.-based body.
The proposal, co-signed by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, added to fears in some Western countries of a stalemate midway through a 12-day conference in Dubai to rewrite a longstanding treaty on international communications.
Russia and its supporters, which include many African and Arab states, seek to formally extend the remit of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to govern many aspects of the Internet.
The United States, Europe and other allies including Australia and Japan insist the treaty should continue to apply only to traditional telecommunications such as international wireline and wireless calls.
Countries can opt out of parts of the revised treaty when it emerges or refuse to sign it altogether.
“If we have no agreement it will create political tension around the Internet,” said Markus Kummer, vice president for public policy at industry think tank The Internet Society.
A leaked draft of the Russia-led proposals would give countries “equal rights to manage the Internet including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of Internet numbering.”
This could allow governments to render websites within their borders inaccessible, even via proxy servers or other countries. It also could allow for multinational pacts in which countries could terminate access to websites at each others’ request.
Such moves would undermine ICANN, a self-governing nonprofit organization under contract to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is ultimately responsible for making sure that people trying to reach a given website actually get there.
“Much of the Internet was developed from U.S. research funding, and the U.S. has kept a residual role, so many other governments say it’s not right that one government ‘controls’ the Internet,” said Kummer.
“The irony is the U.S. has a very laid-back role and protects the Internet from political interference, but the fact it’s the U.S. makes it highly political.”
‘ANOTHER POINT OF CONTROL’
“The reason some countries want to create national control over addresses is so they can have another point of control,” said Rod Beckstrom, until recently chief executive of ICANN, which currently sits atop the addressing system.
Decentralizing the process could prove chaotic if many countries demand that companies use only their national system, he told Reuters.
Beyond web locations and addresses, the Russia-led coalition document says ITU member states should be able to control other elements of the Internet’s infrastructure within their borders, as Russia has sought for months.
The revision would give nations the explicit right to “implement policy” on net governance and “regulate the national Internet segment,” the draft says.
“If you throw in addressing and naming, that puts the entire ecosystem in play, which is what the U.S. and E.U. said they would never agree to,” said a Western participant at the conference who asked not to be named to maintain his ability to negotiate.
“You’re almost guaranteeing lock-up in certain areas that might prevent the other areas from easily going forward,” he said.
The coalition wants the new treaty to include measures to combat spam email, but its definition of spam is so broad that it could be applied to almost any emailed message.
That would provide a pretext for authoritarian regimes to suppress opponents, critics warn, while also doing little to solve what is a technical problem.
Another clause states any country should have the right to know the route of telecom traffic “where technically feasible,” which differs from an earlier submission and appears to acknowledge tracing Internet traffic is impractical.
“Internet networks don’t follow national borders and a lot of governments are not happy with that notion, that they don’t have control over their territory,” said Kummer. “Some governments feel threatened, which they see as undermining their national sovereignty.”
SIGN OF CRACKS?
Egypt was named as a co-author of the Russia-led submission, but on Sunday it disavowed the document in what may be a sign of cracks emerging in the loose anti-U.S. coalition.
“Our name was associated to this proposal by mere misunderstanding,” Nashwa Gad, a department manager at Egypt’s Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT), said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
“Egypt has always been supporting the basic Internet principles that … the Internet should remain free, open, liberal. We do not see that the ITU mandate deals with the Internet.”
The United States has made a counterproposal co-signed by Canada that would stop the treaty being applied to Internet companies such as Google or government and business networks.
It say increasing the treaty’s scope could provide a platform for governments to stifle free speech, reduce online anonymity and censor Internet content.
But Russia and its supporters argue they need new powers to able to fight cyber crime and protect networks.
After six days of largely private talks, very little seems to have been agreed, with the main plenary committee meeting on Monday to again consider the U.S.-Canada proposal among others.
The ITU usually agrees decisions by consensus, but the intransigence of both sides means it could come down to a vote, which may leave the United States and its allies in the minority.
“The U.S. is not considering walking out of the conference and is still participating as normal,” a U.S. spokesman said in an emailed statement, denying an earlier report that the United States could quit the summit, which ends on Friday.
RUSSIA ABANDONS PROPOSAL FOR UNITED NATIONS CONTROL OF THE INTERNET
Opposed by Western governments, the proposal would have allowed member states to seize control of key Internet engineering assets.
December 10, 2012
A Russian-led coalition has withdrawn a controversial proposal to turn Internet governance over to a United Nations agency, a plan opposed by Western governments during ongoing talks over an international communications treaty.
The proposal, supported by China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and others, would have called on the U.N. to help member states seize control of key Internet engineering assets, including domain names, addresses, and numbering. The United States, Canada, France, Sweden, and others opposed the proposal, fearing that it could do grave harm to the current free and open Internet.
The U.N. agency, called the International Telecommunication Union, kicked off a controversial summit last week tasked with rewriting a multilateral treaty that governs international communications traffic. The treaty, which was last updated in 1988, could have a direct impact on the Internet.
Details of the proposal leaked out last month ahead of the summit, forcing Russia to revise it to tone down some anti-Internet rhetoric, but it continued to propose the addition of a new article to the treaty giving the ITU specific authority over the Internet, something the agency has never had.
An ITU spokesman told Reuters that the coalition had abandoned the plan.
“It looks like the Russians and Chinese overplayed their hand,” American cybersecurity expert Jim Lewis of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies told the news agency.
A series of ITU committees are meeting to draft proposals, with a deadline of December 12. The final texts will be presented on December 13, with the treaty signing scheduled to occur the following day. However, many of the meetings are being conducted behind closed doors, and key documents are withheld from public scrutiny — the opposite of the way traditional Internet standards-setting works.
RUSSIA BACKS DOWN OVER UNITED NATIONS INTERNET REGULATION
A Russia-led coalition on Monday withdrew a proposal to give governments new powers over the Internet, a plan opposed by Western countries in talks on a new global telecom treaty.
Negotiations on the treaty mark the most sustained effort so far by governments from around the world to agree on how – or whether – to regulate cyberspace.
The United States, Britain, Canada and other advocates of a hands-off approach to Internet regulation want to limit the new treaty’s scope to telecom companies.
But Russia, China and many Arab states, which want greater governmental control, have been pushing to expand the treaty beyond traditional telecom operators.
Representatives from about 150 countries – members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency – have been negotiating for the past eight days in Dubai on the new treaty, which was last revised in 1988, before the advent of the web.
The Russia-led proposal could have allowed countries to block some Internet locations and take control of the allocation of Internet addresses currently overseen by ICANN, a self-governing organization under contract to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
An ITU spokesman said this plan had now been scrapped.
“It looks like the Russians and Chinese overplayed their hand,” said American cyber security expert Jim Lewis of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
US ambassador Terry Kramer welcomed the decision to withdraw the Russia-led plan. But he also said: “These issues will continue to be on the table for discussion in other forms during the remainder of the conference.”
China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates had co-signed the aborted proposal. The UAE insisted the document had not been withdrawn.
“It may come down to the wire,” said a Western delegate on condition of anonymity. “There are a lot of other (similar) proposals so I don’t think this represents a substantial conclusion and could be just manoeuvring.”
The ITU usually takes decisions by consensus, but the intransigence of both sides means it could come to a vote in which the United States and its allies might be in the minority.
The United States’ position is that the Internet has flourished with minimal state interference. It wants this to continue, arguing that many of the proposed treaty changes could allow governments to stifle free speech, reduce online anonymity and censor Internet content.
Russia and its allies have insisted they need new powers to fight cyber crime and protect networks.
Countries can opt out of parts of the revised treaty when it is finalized or even refuse to sign it. The talks are due to end on Friday.
UNITED NATIONS SLYLY INTRODUCES RESOLUTION TO GAIN CONTROL OF THE INTERNET IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
By Daniel Halper
In the middle of the night at a U.N. conference in Dubai, the presiding chairman of the International Telecommunication Union conference surveyed the assembled countries to see whether there was interest in having greater involvement in the U.N. governing the Internet. A majority of countries gave their approval.
With a sufficient majority supporting the U.N. becoming more active in controlling the Internet, the chairman put forth a resolution. The chairman, though, insisted the survey “was not a vote.“
The resolution was supported by Cuba, Algeria, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia; the United States opposed it.
The proposed resolution resolves that the secretary general of the U.N. “continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet,” according to a draft of the text.
“While it is our understanding that the resolutions made at the WCIT are non-binding, the Secretary-General might treat them as binding, which effectively creates a dangerous mandate for the ITU to continue to hold discussions about internet policy into the future,” accessnow.org writes, responding to this proposed text.
The pro-digital freedom blog writes, “Further, although minor in scale compared to the impact that defining internet in the ITRs and giving control of it to member states, as Russia proposed, this resolution problematically opens the door to further debate over internet policymaking within ITU fora, and away from multi-stakeholder bodies. As Access has made clear, the ITU is government-centric, lacks transparency, excludes key stakeholders including civil society, and fails to promote a multi-stakeholder approach to internet governance that was embraced by the world’s governments at the 2005 World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). And in a similar vain as this resolution’s recognition of the WSIS Outcome Documents and Tunis Agenda before it, future ITU documents will undoubtedly cite to this resolution as approving the ITU as a forum for discussing internet governance and justifying a further expansion of its role.”
The preliminary draft resolution also states, “To foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet … that, as stated in the WSIS outcomes, all governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the existing Internet and its future development and of the future internet, and that the need for development of public policy by governments I consultation with all stakeholders is also recognized.”
Accessnow.org explains the concern with this article:
it gives governments primacy in the development of internet-related public policy, which is contrary to Paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda – a provision cited twice in this resolution. Provision e’s wording could also be read to give preference to discussing internet policy in UN fora, because these are the only institutions that explicitly give “all governments… an equal role and responsibility…”
Provision a of the resolution further invites Member States to discuss internet policy issues in other ITU fora. While this provision is caveated to only refer to internet-related issues that are within the ITU’s mandate, which lessens the impact somewhat, Access does not believe that the ITU is an appropriate institution to discuss internet policy.
Given the shady nature of the middle-of-the-night introduction of the resolution, it’s unclear how ITU conference will proceed.
Nevertheless, they are expected to meet again early Thursday morning (local time), and will need to have the resolution finalized, if they decide to go further, before the conference concludes on Friday.
Here’s the full text of the proposed resolution:
PRELIMINARY DRAFT NEW RESOLUTION
To foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet
The World Conference of International Telecommunication (Dubai, 2012), recognizing
a) the WSIS Outcome Documents including Geneva (2003) and Tunis Phases (2005);
b) that the Internet is a central element of the infrastructure of the Information Society, has evolved from a research and academic facility into a global facility available to the public.;
c) the importance of Broadband capacity to facilitate the delivery of a broader range of services and applications, promote investment and provide Internet access at affordable to both existing and new users.;
d) the valuable contribution of all stakeholder groups in their respective roles as recognized in paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda to the evolution, functioning and development of the Internet.;
e) that, as stated in the WSIS outcomes, all governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the existing Internet and its future development and of the future internet, and that the need for development of public policy by governments I consultation with all stakeholders is also recognized,;
f) Resolutions 101, 102, and 133 of the 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference.,
invites Member States
1 to elaborate on their respective position on international Internet-related technical, development and public policy issues within the mandate of the ITU at various ITU fora including, inter alia, the World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum, the Broadband Commission and ITU-T and ITU-¬D Study Groups.;
2 to engage with all their stakeholders in this regard.,
resolves to instruct the Secretary-General
1 to continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet as expressed in § 35 of the Tunis Agenda;
2 to support the participation of Member States and all other stakeholders, as applicable, in the activities of the ITU in this regard.
UNITED STATES VS CHINA, RUSSIA IN BATTLE FOR CONTROL OVER THE INTERNET
BY JORDAN ROBERTSON | Bloomberg
DEC. 12, 2012
This could be a crucial week for the future of the Internet and who controls it.
At a conference in Dubai that ends on Friday December 13th, the United Nations could emerge with significant authority over key parts of the Internet. And as a result, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia could break apart the U.S.-led system for numbering and naming websites.
In other words, there could be a fundamental change in the way the Internet is governed, and some countries might win the power to control or tamper with the Internet in previously impossible ways.
Or: Little will change at all, which is more likely.
For all the posturing surrounding the Worldwide Conference on International Telecommunications, there’s the distinct possibility that the Internet will emerge unscathed.
Whatever the outcome, the battle taking place in Dubai highlights the growing tension over a relatively obscure but vital system for making sure that people can surf the Web freely without government interference.
The conference is a product of the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency. The gathering’s stated aim was to update the technical standards that allow different countries’ telephone networks to work together. The last time they were updated was 1988.
The agency insists it won’t use the conference to increase the UN’s authority over the Internet. Nevertheless, the event has turned into a referendum on the role of the United States, and in particular, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, in managing the global Internet.
ICANN is an independent, U.S.-based organization that acts as a phone book for the Internet. It coordinates the names and addresses of sites globally to ensure that computers know to find each other online.
The group’s prominence is an outgrowth of the Internet’s roots in the U.S. and the need for a centralized body to oversee traffic instructions. Its primary function is managing the Domain Name System, or DNS, that underpins the modern web.
The ideas being floated would shift some control to the UN and allow individual nations to manage the Internet addresses in their own territories. On Wednesday, an eight-country group that is pushing for more sovereign control over web addresses resubmitted a proposal it had scrapped a day earlier, as my colleague Amy Thomson reported. The group includes China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.
While it might seem like an equitable idea, the Obama administration published a blog post Tuesday that argued that free speech and innovation would suffer if the UN were granted significant new powers. The proposal also faces opposition from Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden, which have all called for it to be tabled since they’ve agreed not to talk about regulating the Internet at the conference.
The threat is that if every country were allowed to manage their own Internet address books, sites seen as troublesome by the governments could be easily — and silently — eliminated by removing them from the index and making them permanently inaccessible to the outside world.
“The global consensus for a free and open Internet is overwhelming,” the White House’s post stated. “Millions in the United States and around the world have already added their voices to this conversation, and their position is clear: they do not want the WCIT to govern the Internet or legitimize more state control over online content. Our administration could not agree more – and will not support a treaty that sets that kind of precedent.”
That the Internet can be controlled at all may come as a surprise to some. After all, we often hear it described as the Wild Wild West of computing, where anyone can have a voice, viruses are unstoppable, and as the old New Yorker cartoon famously depicted, nobody knows who — or what — y0u are online, unless you tell them. And that countries don’t fully control their own corners of cyberspace is also little-known.
Yet there are ways that the Internet can be brought to heel. We got a fresh example two weeks ago when the Internet was shut off in Syria. Also, China’s censorship of what its citizens see online is longstanding and pervasive. Governments already have powerful tools at their disposal — namely, regulatory authority over telecommunications companies — that give them a lever for crippling the Internet when so desired.
The infrastructure for managing Web addresses has been a sore spot for some countries for some time. The origins of the latest power grab were outlined in depth in this Vanity Fair piece from May, which described it as a “war under way for control of the Internet.”
The deliberations are fast-moving, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about what comes next. By Friday, we should know a lot more.
NATIONS ARGUE OVER WHO WILL CONTROL THE INTERNET AT TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE
December 12, 2012
At the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and China have withdrawn their proposal for individual nation’s power over internet addresses and digital domains which would have decentralized power over web addresses.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) claims that the leaked version of the proposal was never officially given to them for consideration.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANN) control all web addresses. These are non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Terry Kramer, US Ambassador would like to see ICANN and IANN remain in power. Kramer said: “While this is a welcome development, these issues will continue to be on the table for discussion in other forms during the remainder of the conference.”
Kramer would like to see the control of the internet to remain in the hands of the NGOs that control it now. He also believes that the NGOs “are a much better place to talk about issues like cyber threats or issues of numbering. That conversation should be in a multi-stakeholder environment where they’re truly open, you have a variety of industry members there, you have non-profit organizations, civil society, governments engaged there and it’s an open inclusive process.”
Kramer asserts that China and Russia are pushing for the ITU to have oversight extensions to include the internet – as of now, they are solely governing broadband telephone communications and international calls.
Kramer wants the ITU to be constrained to its original charter and keep the internet separate to “stay pure to the focus on this conference which is telecom service providers.” Kramer goes on to say: “Fundamentally, the conference should not be dealing with the Internet sector,” and, more bluntly, that they’re interested in “Keeping the Internet out of this conference.”
It is the purpose of mainstream media to not only downplay the ITU’s advancement toward control over the internet, but also demonize Russia and China for this move toward a free internet controlled by sovereign nations and not one sole self-proclaimed governance such as the UN.
Mozilla has joined the opposition against the WCIT proposed controls over the internet. Developers for Modzilla said in a statement: “The issue isn’t whether our governments, the UN or even the ITU should play a role in shaping the Web. The problem is that they are trying to do it behind closed doors, in secret, without us. The Web lets us speak out, share and connect around the things that matter. It creates new opportunities, holds governments to account, breaks through barriers and makes cats famous. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s because the Web belongs to all of us. We all get a say in how it’s built.”
The secret draft for new recommendations entitled “Requirements for Deep Packet Inspection in Next Generation Networks” explains that certain issues must be addressed and dealt with at the ITU, such as:
• Application identification
• Flow identification
• Inspected traffic types
• Signature management
• Reporting to the network management system (NMS)
Under the direction of Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour, the ITU has moved incrementally toward internet-centered issues such as cybersecurity, censorship and digital content issues as well as managing the traffic on the Web.
At the WTIC, new regulatory rules are being discussed that provide more stringent restrictions as well as creating a money-making scheme for the UN.
Because all “calls” are ultimately digital, transmission control protocol (TCP) are used to oversee the beginning, middle and end of all transmissions; including the data that passes through in the middle. Internet users do not have control over TCP sessions because IP providers generate the system and apply the communications under their own authority. The ITU could intercept this process, instill a charge and the payment would be passed down to the customer. Remote connections would obviously become more costly, although it takes the same amount of data exchange to make all digital connections.
In addition, the ITU could have backdoor peering abilities as most ISPs do because the exchange of traffic on the internet occurs without exchange in the physical world, the ITU could be watching all movement on the Web without detection and claim fees based on observations that are not confirmable or verifiable.
It is expected that the ITU would begin a sort of taxation that international telecommunications corporations would be expected to pay for the ITU’s handling of web traffic as it flows across the world. ITU members would be privy to the new found cash flow that would be in the hands of international governance; which could begin to line the pockets of the UN in record time.
Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives voted against the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and their scheme to oversee an “increased government control over the Internet” that would “undermine the current multistake-holder model that has enabled the Internet to flourish and under which the private sector.” The European Parliament in England paved the way last month by passing an identical resolution.
The unilateral vote was 397-0 to approve the fight against the UN and their international move to control the internet.
UNITED NATIONS PUSHES FOR GLOBAL INTERNET SURVEILLANCE
Published on Dec 6, 2012
Members of the United Nations International Telecommunications Union have agreed to put in place standards for the Internet that would simplify eavesdropping on a global level. The motives behind the notion are to combat piracy and keep track of copyrighted material, but critics believe this is just a foot in the door to violating online privacy. RT’s Anastasia Churkina brings us more on the story.
ALERT: BIG WIN ON INTERNET REGULATION!
By Dick Morris
December 14, 2012
Thankfully, the UN negotiations on Internet regulation collapsed yesterday in Dubai when the U.S. and Canada announced that they would refuse to support or sign any treaty that gave the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) the power to regulate the Internet.
They specifically rejected the efforts of Vladimir Putin’s Russia to control the Internet through international treaty. Russia had sought to give each country the power to manage the Internet within their own countries and Putin’s ally Toure, the head of the ITU, sought to charge Google and other content sites for any videos used internationally. The goal in these charges was to make it prohibitively expensive for Russians to download video from foreign providers.
Russia had obtained support from a strong majority of world governments because each found it in their interest to suppress the Internet at home. Our hope was that the U.S. would block the treaty and it did!
The death knell of Internet regulation is particularly welcome to us at DickMorris.com. We have collected 100,000 petition signatures against the proposed treaty, which we first outed in our book Here Come the Black Helicopters: UN Global Governance and the Loss of Freedom. Our book was the first to explain the threat of the treaty, which had previously been negotiated in secret behind closed doors.
Coupled with the Senate rejection of the Treaty on the Disabled, these two new developments show success in rolling back the power grab of the UN.
Thank you for your help in blocking these treaties!
STOP THE UNITED NATIONS CONTROL OF THE INTERNET!
THE END OF THE FREE INTERNET?
Until now, the work of the UN negotiators who are pondering how to regulate the Internet has been shrouded in secrecy. But as 1,950 delegates from 193 countries gather this week in Dubai to consider 900 proposals to regulate the Internet, their game is becoming clear.
The Russian-educated head of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN body seeking to control the Internet, Dr. Hamadoun Toure says: “The brutal truth is that the internet remains largely [the] rich world’s privilege.” He adds that “the ITU wants to change that.”
The ITU wants to force companies — and eventually their users (us) — to pay for streaming video. The proposal is called “pay to stream” or “a quality based model.” According to the BBC, “This would see firms face charges if they wanted to ensure streamed video and other quality-critical content download without the risk of problems such as jerky images.” Presumably the revenues from this Internet Tax would go to building up Net infrastructure in the less developed world. And, undoubtedly, the cost will be passed onto the users throughout the world — including you!
But building up the Net’s third world infrastructure is not the real agenda here. It’s a facade.
Russia and China want firms like Google to have to pay to send streaming video into other countries, creating a charge that can be passed on to the users. The idea is to make it so expensive that nobody in their totalitarian countries downloads anything they shouldn’t which might open their eyes to the truth Moscow and Beijing want to keep out.
The ITU is now charged with regulating long distance phone services. But Moscow and Beijing, want to expand its power to dictate to the Internet and they have a willing tool in Toure who was educated in Leningrad and Moscow in the pre-glasnost era.
The delegates and would-be regulators have until December 14th to agree on which proposals to adopt. Russia and China are seeking a declaration that each nation has an “equal right to manage the Internet” to enhance its ability to block politically free sites.
Fortunately, the European Union’s digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes has tweeted that “the internet works, it doesn’t need to be regulated by ITR Treaty.” And Vinton Cerf, the computer scientist who co-designed some of the internet’s core underlying protocols, says “a state-controlled system of regulation is not only unnecessary, it would almost invariable raise costs and prices and interfere with the rapid and organic growth of the internet.”
Cerf notes that “only governments have a voice at the ITU…engineers, companies, and the people that build and use the web have no vote.”
And so it would be if these talks lead to a new treaty: Only governments will run the Net. God help us all!
(NONE of this is being covered by American media, whether cable, broadcast, or print). Please send this column around to your family and friends and encourage them to sign the petition protesting Internet regulation!)
SAVE THE INTERNET FROM THE UNITED NATIONS!
STOP THE UNITED NATIONS CONTROL OF THE INTERNET!
Russia, China, India and Brazil (the BRIC countries) have introduced a resolution to the General Assembly giving the United Nations control over the Internet. It is a bid by Beijing and Moscow to stop their own people from surfing the Net and finding information that their dictators want to keep hidden. In the process, it would give the United Nations control over much of the Internet.
According to The Hill, the proposal – which will come up for a vote at the U.N. conference in Dubai in December, “would give the UN more control over cybersecurity, data privacy, technical standards, and the Web’s address system. It would also allow foreign government-owned Internet providers to charge extra for international traffic and allow for more price controls.”
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold hearings this week on the proposal.
To give the UN control over web addresses will provide Russia and China with excellent tools for espionage. To give their governments the power to charge extra for international traffic will allow price censorship to wipe out what is left of their people’s freedoms. To give the UN control over the Internet endangers all of our freedoms and puts the worst possible regulator in charge of global free expression.
Please take a moment to sign this petition to Congress to vote for a resolution of disapproval of the UN proposal and to instruct the US to vote no. The resolution should also provide that the US will not abide by or recognize any UN regulation of the Internet and will word to encourage other nations to follow our lead.
We’ll add your email address to our Alerts list so we can keep you posted on progress and next steps.
NO SALES TAX ON THE INTERNET
Republican Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming is sponsoring a proposal to let states tax Internet sales. Aren’t we being taxed enough as it is? And think of the bureaucratic headache of having to pay sales taxes in fifty different states — especially on small web sites. And, after all, once they can tax, they can regulate and control.
Please sign this petition to keep the Internet free!
Please include your hard address so we can send it to Congress. We’ll add your e-mail address to our Alerts list so we can keep you posted on progress and next steps.
Click Here To Sign The Petition To Stop Internet Sales Tax!
Click Here to give me your thoughts and continue the discussion.
POLICE ASK CONGRESS FOR ACCESS TO YOUR PERSONAL TEXT MESSAGES
As if wiretapping and spying on your personal emails weren’t enough, the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association is now asking Congress for access to your personal text messages. With the communication method on the rise, the association has submitted a proposal to Congress requiring telecommunication companies to record and store your typed text for at least two years. RT’s Web Producer Andrew Blake breaks down the issue.
BROAD EMAIL SPYING IN AMERICA
Senate Bill Sets the Stage?
As provisions of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) are “updated” to better reflect the insatiable needs of our police state minders, law enforcement groups and corporate lobbyists are clamoring for greater access to our electronic communications.
While doe-eyed “progressives” claim that the reelection of war criminal Barack Obama portends an imminent “2.0 reset” by his administration, actions speak louder than words, particularly as they pertain to Americans’ constitutional rights.
Most recently the Hope and Change™ fraudster signaled his intentions by giving Israel a green light to murder Palestinians in the open air prison of Gaza. The silence from “progressive” quarters was worse than deafening as writers Chris Floyd and Arthur Silber pointed out.
What about other “liberal icons,” stalwart champions of civil liberties; what have they been up to since the election?
CNET investigative reporter Declan McCullagh informed us that “Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns,” and that a “vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.”
Among the proposals found in the Leahy revisions are the following:
• Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.
• Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.
• Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant–or subsequent court review–if they claim “emergency” situations exist.
• Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.
Although a follow-up CNET article reported that Leahy, reacting to widespread opposition, has now “abandoned his controversial proposal that would grant government agencies more surveillance power–including warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail accounts,” given Congress’s near universal embrace of the “Total Information Awareness” paradigm, it is a near certainty these measures will return in some form.
“It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach,” McCullough noted, one “which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications.”
But in the best tradition of “bipartisanship,” i.e., capitulation to the Security State, “after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation,” Leahy “pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday.”
The strongest objections to providing the public with privacy safeguards came, you guessed it, from officials within Obama’s Department of Justice.
Earlier this year, CNET reported that the DOJ “offered what amounts to a frontal attack on proposals to amend federal law to better protect Americans’ privacy.”
“James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, warned that rewriting a 1986 privacy law to grant cloud computing users more privacy protections and to require court approval before tracking Americans’ cell phones would hinder police investigations.”
During Senate testimony back in April, Baker claimed that requiring a search warrant “to obtain stored e-mail could have an ‘adverse impact’ on criminal investigations. And making location information only available with a search warrant, he said, would hinder ‘the government’s ability to obtain important information in investigations of serious crimes’.”
In other words, even when there is no evidence a crime has been committed the Obama administration is asserting that constitutional safeguards on email stored in the cloud would get in the government’s way and impose “an unnecessary burden” on state fishing expeditions by a multitude of law enforcement agencies.
Such fallacious claims come hot on the heels of administration efforts to convince Congress to rewrite wiretapping laws that would require internet firms such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to build backdoors into their infrastructure for government surveillance.
Earlier this month, Russia Today disclosed that although the FBI “has been adamant about withholding information about their plans to ensure the government can access any encrypted emails or messages sent over the Internet,” a federal judge ordered the Bureau to “come clean.”
“Washington,” RT reported, “hopes to eventually roll out a program that will see that the FBI and other federal agencies are allowed backdoor access to any and all online communications.”
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, in response to charges by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that a government stonewall hindered their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on the FBI’s “Going Dark” program, ordered the Department of Justice to conduct “further review of the materials previously withheld.”
Although the DOJ’s Criminal Division had located 8,425 pages of “potentially responsive information,” they only released “one page in full and 6 pages in part, and withheld 51 pages in full.” How’s that for “transparency”!
And with new Justice Department guidelines allowing “counterterrorism officials” to “lengthen the period of time they retain information about U.S. residents, even if they have no known connection to terrorism” as The Washington Post reported earlier this year, any and every scrap of electronic detritus generated by the billions of cell phone calls, text messages, emails and web searches made by Americans every day is considered fair game by government snoops.
The trend towards retaining more and more data by intelligence agencies and local police has accelerated with technological advances. As The New York Times reported in August, “not so long ago even the most aggressive government surveillance had to be selective: the cost of data storage was too high and the capacity too low to keep everything.”
“Not anymore.” According to to John Villasenor, a “senior fellow” at the elitist Brookings Institution, as data storage costs plummet “it will soon be technically feasible and affordable to record and store everything that can be recorded about what everyone in a country says or does.”
The Brookings analyst averred that “estimates … to store the audio from telephone calls made by an average person in the course of a year would require about 3.3 gigabytes and cost just 17 cents to store, a price that is expected to fall to 2 cents by 2015.”
“Tracking a person’s movements for a year, collected from their cellphone, would take so little space as to carry a trivial cost,” the Times averred. “Storing video takes far more space, but the price is dropping so steadily that storing millions of hours of material will not be a problem soon.”
But wouldn’t securocrats drown in these vast oceans of electronic data? Not really. A “parallel revolution in search technology” will soon allow even the dimmest bulb at DHS or the FBI “to efficiently find anything of interest in the data.”
This “parallel revolution” was hinted at by investigative journalist James Bamford. In his March piece in Wired Magazine, Bamford described efforts by the National Security Agency to build “super-fast computers to conduct brute-force attacks on encrypted messages.”
In 2009, “they made a big breakthrough,” a former “senior intelligence official” told Wired. “The NSA believes it’s on the verge of breaking a key encryption algorithm–opening up hoards of data.”
“That,” the former official noted, “is where the value of Bluffdale, and its mountains of long-stored data, will come in,” Bamford wrote.
“What can’t be broken today may be broken tomorrow. ‘Then you can see what they were saying in the past,’ he says. ‘By extrapolating the way they did business, it gives us an indication of how they may do things now.’ The danger, the former official says, is that it’s not only foreign government information that is locked in weaker algorithms, it’s also a great deal of personal domestic communications, such as Americans’ email intercepted by the NSA in the past decade.”
And if it can be intercepted, mined and stored, it can be searched, giving government snoops an unprecedented window into our lives.
More troubling still, with ECPA “reform” on the horizon, CNET disclosed that “Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies–including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission–to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant.”
In addition to the SEC, civil subpoena authority would be granted to diverse agencies such as the “Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission,” McCullough wrote.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to infer that investigative digging by concerned citizens and journalists into the filthy shenanigans and “shitty deals” foisted on the public by banks, shady brokerage houses, mortgage lenders, defense corporations, petrochemical and mining interests, or unions out to “organize the unorganized,” would be viewed as a dire threat to the current corporatist set-up.
According to draft proposals leaked to CNET we learn that if passed the new law “would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reported last month, the organization “is seeking documents about DHS Internet monitoring that some Justice Department officials believe may ‘run afoul of privacy laws forbidding government surveillance of private Internet traffic’.”
“In February 2011,” EPIC disclosed that “the Department of Homeland Security announced that the agency planned to implement a program that would monitor media content, including social media data.”
The DHS initiative “would gather information from ‘online forums, blogs, public websites, and messages boards’ and disseminate information to ‘federal, state, local, and foreign government and private sector partners’.”
“The program would be executed, in part,” EPIC also revealed, “by individuals who established fictitious usernames and passwords to create covert social media profiles to spy on other users. The agency stated it would store personal information for up to five years.”
Ironically enough, in October the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a report, Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion Centers, which found “that DHS-assigned detailees to the fusion centers forwarded ‘intelligence’ of uneven quality–oftentimes shoddy, rarely timely, sometimes endangering citizens’ civil liberties and Privacy Act protections, occasionally taken from already-published public sources, and more often than not unrelated to terrorism.”
“Despite reviewing 13 months’ worth of reporting originating from fusion centers from April 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010,” Senate staff averred, “the Subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot.”
In their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against DHS, the privacy watchdogs obtained nearly three hundreds pages of documents which revealed that the sprawling bureaucracy “is monitoring political dissent.” According to EPIC, the documents described widespread surveillance by the agency and included “contracts and statements of work with General Dynamics for 24/7 media and social network monitoring and periodic reports to DHS. The documents reveal that the agency is tracking media stories that ‘reflect adversely’ on DHS or the U.S. government.”
Meanwhile, Senate Subcommittee investigators also found that the agency’s disbursement practices were so shoddy that “DHS revealed that it was unable to provide an accurate tally of how much it had granted to states and cities to support fusion centers efforts, instead producing broad estimates of the total amount of Federal dollars spent on fusion center activities from 2003 to 2011, estimates which ranged from $289 million to $1.4 billion.”
But as I have pointed out many times, the machinery of state repression is lubricated with cold cash bestowed by taxpayers on privileged corporate insiders. Earlier this month, Washington Technologyreported that “the top 20 contractors at the Homeland Security Department represent more than a third of all business done by contract at the department during fiscal 2011.”
According to the report, “DHS spent $5.1 billion with the top 20 companies, and $14.2 billion on all contractors,” with “IT and systems integration firms,” integral to constructing and running the secret state’s panopticon, topping the list.
Since the 9/11 provocation, intrusive surveillance of the American people by a host of shadowy government agencies and private corporations clearly demonstrates there is broad ruling class consensus for expanding authoritarian and dictatorial forms of rule under an unconstitutional “Unitary Executive.”
Recent revelations by The Washington Post that the Obama regime “has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix’,” starkly reveals that when the president can spy on or kill whomever he pleases, on his own initiative and without the checks and balances enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights is effectively a dead letter.
While we do not know what form a “new and improved” ECPA will take when it emerges from the bipartisan congressional snake pit, the prospects for ever emerging from America’s “friendly fascist” nightmare are growing dimmer.
NSA WHISTLEBLOWER: ‘EVERYONE IN THE UNITED STATES IS UNDER VIRTUAL SURVEILLANCE’
Americans Are The Most Spied On People In World History
More Spying On Citizens than in Stasi East Germany
In a radio interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin (who’s been one of the best at covering the surveillance state in the US) made a simple observation that puts much of this into context: the US surveillance regime has more data on the average American than the Stasi ever did on East Germans.
Indeed, the American government has more information on the average American than Stalin had on Russians, Hitler had on German citizens, or any other government has ever had on its people.
The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American.
Some also claim that the government is also using facial recognition software and surveillance cameras totrack where everyone is going. And – given that your smartphone routinely sends you location information back to Apple or Google – it would be child’s play for the government to track your location that way.
As the top spy chief at the U.S. National Security Agency explained this week, the American government is collecting some 100 billion 1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of all types per year.
He says that the government has collected all of the communications of congressional leaders, generals and everyone else in the U.S. for the last 10 years.
He further explains that he set up the NSA’s system so that all of the information would automatically be encrypted, so that the government had to obtain a search warrant based upon probably cause before a particular suspect’s communications could be decrypted. But the NSA now collects all data in an unencrypted form, so that no probable cause is needed to view any citizen’s information. He says that it is actually cheaper and easier to store the data in an encrypted format: so the government’s current system is being done for political – not practical – purposes.
He says that if anyone gets on the government’s “enemies list”, then the stored information will be used to target them. Specifically, he notes that if the government decides it doesn’t like someone, it analyzes all of the data it has collected on that person and his or her associates over the last 10 years to build a case against him.
The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.
As we’ve previously documented, the spying isn’t being done to keep us safe … but to crush dissent and to smear people who uncover unflattering this about the government … and to help the too big to fail businesses compete against smaller businesses (and here).
And as we point out at every opportunity, this is not some “post-9/11 reality”. Spying on Americans – and most of the other attacks on liberty – started before 9/11.
Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” into the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975:
Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny ….
We can debate whether or not dictators are running Washington. But one thing is clear: the capacity is already here.
TechDirt points out:
While the Stasi likely wanted more info and would have loved to have been able to tap into a digitally connected world like we have today, that just wasn’t possible.
That’s true. The tyrants in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Stasi Eastern Europe would have liked to easedrop on every communication and every transaction of every citizen. But in the world before the internet, smart phones, electronic medical records and digital credit card transactions, much of what happened behind closed doors remained private.
(And modern tin pot dictators don’t have the tens of billions of dollars necessary to set up a sophisticated electronic spying system).
In modern America, a much higher percentage of your communications and transactions are being recorded and stored by the government.
CONGRESSMAN PROPOSES 2-YEAR BAN ON BILLS ABOUT THE INTERNET
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
(CNN) – U.S. congressman Darrell Issa is proposing a two-year ban on all new federal legislation regulating the Internet.
Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California who has been an advocate for Internet freedoms, has posted online a draft of his legislation, the Internet American Moratorium Act of 2012. The bill would “create a two-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the Internet.”
Issa first posted the complete text of the bill Monday on Project Madison, the nickname for a crowdsourcing platform that allows citizens to amend individual passages of legislation by adding or striking language. On Tuesday, he posted a link to the bill on Reddit, the social news site, where users quickly voted it to the top.
“Together, we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet,” Issa said on Reddit, where he also invited users to suggest changes to the proposed bill. He said he will begin taking questions about it from Reddit users Wednesday morning.
Issa is one of the more tech-fluent members of Congressand was an outspoken critic of the Stop Online Piracy Act,which would have penalized websites that host pirated content. That bill died this year amid near-unanimous opposition from the technology industry.
It was not immediately clear whether Issa’s moratorium would apply to his own Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, which would seek to protect U.S. copyrights and trademarks from infringement by foreign websites.
Initial reaction on Reddit to his proposed moratorium was mixed. Some users were confused about what point Issa was trying to make, while others saw the move as a stunt.
“I have a problem with legislation that preemptively ties your hands for years at a time. You can’t know what the internet or society will look like in six months, let alone two years, and making it harder to respond to emerging threats or opportunities is an abdication of your responsibilities as a member of Congress,” wrote one Reddit user. “This just seems to me to be more cheap political theater, along the lines of Grover Norquist’s ‘We will never ever ever raise taxes for any reason’ pledge.”
“The answer is NOT to ban new regulation. We need regulation,” another said. “But, I don’t believe ANYBODY in Congress has the vocabulary, is intelligent in knowing how the internet or computers work, or has the foresight to put current trends and future technologies together in a context to create those new regulation that protect the internet and it’s users/consumers.”
Issa’s Reddit post had drawn more than 2,000 comments by early Wednesday.
Leslie Horn, writing for Gizmodo, also dismissed Issa’s idea.
“Open internet? That’s a good thing. But a law that keeps congress from governing? That’s not a good thing — the internet is a big place, and the language of this law is very broad,” she wrote. “As it stands now, IAMA is just a discussion draft, meaning it will be a very long time before it’s even close to a vote. And while we’re for an open internet, a blanket ban is a bad idea. Let’s think about this one a little more, Rep. Issa.”
When asked why the congressman introduced the bill, a spokesman for Issa told CNN, “After SOPA and PIPA (the Senate’s similar Protect Intellectual Property Act), it became very clear that we needed a cooling-off period to figure out a better way to create policy that impacts Internet users, job creators and all Americans.”
The spokesman, who asked not to be named, declined further comment Tuesday.
SENATE BILL REWRITE LETS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT READ YOUR EMAIL WITHOUT A WARRANT
Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans’ e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.
Sen. Patrick Leahy previously said his bill boosts Americans’ e-mail privacy protections by “requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.” That’s no longer the case. (Credit: U.S. Senate)
A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.
CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.
Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge. (CNET obtained the revised draft from a source involved in the negotiations with Leahy.)
It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boasted last year that his bill “provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.”
Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to “reconsider acting” on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.
One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy’s original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an “adverse impact” on criminal investigations.
Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said requiring warrantless access to Americans’ data “undercuts” the purpose of Leahy’s original proposal. “We believe a warrant is the appropriate standard for any contents,” he said.
An aide to the Senate Judiciary committee told CNET that because discussions with interested parties are ongoing, it would be premature to comment on the legislation.
Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that in light of the revelations about how former CIA director David Petraeus’ e-mail was perused by the FBI, “even the Department of Justice should concede that there’s a need for more judicial oversight,” not less.
Markham Erickson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. who has followed the topic closely and said he was speaking for himself and not his corporate clients, expressed concerns about the alphabet soup of federal agencies that would be granted more power:
❝ There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, SEC or FTC need to access customer information service providers with a mere subpoena. If those agencies feel they do not have the tools to do their jobs adequately, they should work with the appropriate authorizing committees to explore solutions. The Senate Judiciary committee is really not in a position to adequately make those determinations. ❞
The list of agencies that would receive civil subpoena authority for the contents of electronic communications also includes the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission.
Leahy’s modified bill retains some pro-privacy components, such as requiring police to secure a warrant in many cases. But the dramatic shift, especially the regulatory agency loophole and exemption for emergency account access, likely means it will be near-impossible for tech companies to support in its new form.
A bitter setback
This is a bitter setback for Internet companies and a liberal-conservative-libertarian coalition, which had hoped to convince Congress to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect documents stored in the cloud. Leahy glued those changes onto an unrelatedprivacy-related bill supported by Netflix.
At the moment, Internet users enjoy more privacy rights if they store data on their hard drives or under their mattresses, a legal hiccup that the companies fear could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless the law is changed to be more privacy-protective.
Members of the so-called Digital Due Process coalition include Apple, Amazon.com, Americans for Tax Reform, AT&T, the Center for Democracy and Technology, eBay, Google, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, TechFreedom, and Twitter. (CNET was the first to report on the coalition’s creation.)
Leahy, a former prosecutor, has a mixed record on privacy. He criticized the FBI’s efforts to require Internet providers to build in backdoors for law enforcement access, and introduced a billin the 1990s protecting Americans’ right to use whatever encryption products they wanted.
But he also authored the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which is now looming over Web companies, as well as the reviledProtect IP Act. An article in The New Republic concluded Leahy’s work on the Patriot Act “appears to have made the bill less protective of civil liberties.” Leahy had introduced significant portions of the Patriot Act under the name Enhancement of Privacy and Public Safety in Cyberspace Act (PDF) a year earlier.
One obvious option for the Digital Due Process coalition is the simplest: if Leahy’s committee proves to be an insurmountable roadblock in the Senate, try the courts instead.
Judges already have been wrestling with how to apply the Fourth Amendment to an always-on, always-connected society. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police needed a search warrant for GPS tracking of vehicles. Some courts have ruled that warrantless tracking of Americans’ cell phones, another coalition concern, is unconstitutional.
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies already must obtain warrants for e-mail in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, thanks to a ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010.
REVISED BILL HIGHLIGHTS
✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.
✭ Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.
✭ Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim “emergency” situations exist.
✭ Says providers “shall notify” law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.
✭ Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.
An excerpt from Leahy’s revised legislation authorizing over 22 federal agencies to obtain any Americans’ e-mail without a search warrant signed by a judge.
Fourth Amendment — Protection from unreasonable search and seizure. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
PRIVACY BILL WILL DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE
Published on Nov 20, 2012 by RTAmerica
RT America has been covering the topic of cybersecurity for over a year and with millions of people taking their private and personal information to the digital world there has been legislation that could deeply influence confidentiality online. RT’s Adriana Usero breaks down ten reasons why you should care about your cybersecurtity.
CYBERSECURITY: TEN REASONS TO BE WORRIED
Published on Nov 23, 2012 by RTAmerica
Congress has tried to pass cybersecurity legislation with no avail, and the White House’s own efforts have been shrouded in secrecy. Despite Washington’s uneasy approach to getting computer laws on the books, many Americans aren’t paying attention. RT’s Liz Wahl explains why a cybersecurity discussion needs to occur, and how personal finances, privacy and even power are all in jeopardy.
SENATE READIES FOR FIGHT OVER CYBERSECURITY SURVEILLANCE
Sen. Joe Lieberman says his cybersecurity bill is necessary to prevent terrorists from dumping “raw sewage into our lakes.” But privacy groups call it a big step toward Big Brother.
Sen. Joe Lieberman is hoping for better cybersecurity luck this time around. (Credit: CBS)
Sen. Joseph Lieberman spent years fighting unsuccessfully for a so-called Internet kill switch that would grant the president vast power over private networks during a “national cyberemergency.”
Now Lieberman (I-Conn.), who did not seek re-election, is hoping a more modest version of his proposal will be approved before he leaves office in January. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has inserted the cybersecurity bill into the Senate’s post-election calendar, and a vote could happen as early as this week after debate on a proposal to open more public land for hunting and fishing.
That move has reignited a long-simmering dispute over privacy, regulation, and cybersecurity, with Republicans saying Lieberman’s bill is overly regulatory, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calling it deeply “flawed.” Civil liberties groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation oppose Lieberman’s bill on privacy grounds, warning that it gives “companies new rights to monitor our private communications and pass that data to the government.”
“What we hope changes this time is that Sen. Reid will not block amendments like he did last time,” a spokesman for Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, told CNET yesterday. “A lot of people have good ideas for improving/changing the bill, but they were all blocked from offering their amendments for a vote last time — despite Sen. Reid’s public pledge that the bill would be ‘subject to as fair, thorough, and open a process as is conceivable.’”
During a vote in August that fell largely along party lines, Republicans blocked Lieberman’s Cybersecurity Act of 2012 from moving forward. It received a vote of 52 to 46, but under Senate procedures, a 60-vote supermajority was required.
Neither Reid nor Lieberman responded to requests for comment from CNET yesterday. An aide to Sen. Tom Carper — a Delaware Democrat who is co-sponsoring Lieberman’s bill and is expected to take the lead on cybersecurity topics next year — said Carper is ready to work with critics to address their concerns, but the Senate shouldn’t put off addressing cybersecurity threats any longer.
One significant development since the failed vote over the summer: President Obama’s threat to bypass the Congress by implementing part of Lieberman’s bill through an executive order.
Many Democrats like that idea. In a letter to the White House in September, Delaware Sen. Christopher Coons and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal say it’s time for an executive order “directing the promulgation of voluntary standards” by the Department of Homeland Security. A few weeks later, Lieberman recommended much the same thing.
This could ratchet up the pressure on Republicans to agree to Lieberman’s approach. On the other hand, an executive order wouldn’t get Democrats everything they want, so they have an incentive to try again in the Senate.
A spokesman for Sen. Daniel Coats (R-Ind.) said yesterday that:
It is imperative that Congress pass a balanced cyber security bill this year given the threat of cyber attacks against our government and key sectors of our economy. An Executive Order simply cannot provide the statutory authorities and protections needed to address the serious danger posed by cyber attacks. This critical issue demands the input of both Republicans and Democrats, White House and Congress, and the public and private sectors. It would be a disservice to the American people if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plays another game of political football with cyber security legislation as he did in August when he abruptly cut off bipartisan negotiations.
In 2010, Lieberman proposed handing Homeland Security emergency powers to seize control of or even shut down portions of the Internet, including the authority to issue directives to broadband providers, search engines, or software firms. “Our economic security, national security and public safety are now all at risk from new kinds of enemies — cyber-warriors, cyber-spies, cyber-terrorists and cyber-criminals,” he said at the time.
That idea didn’t exactly meet with universal applause, especially after Egypt’s government provided an impromptu demonstration by trying to pull the plug on the country’s Internet links. By early last year, Lieberman’s original proposal had morphed into a slightly revised version, with increased judicial review, that was designed to assuage critics’ concerns. It didn’t work.
Lieberman’s latest version removes an explicit kill switch. Instead, it allows Homeland Security to “intercept” any telecommunications traffic that is “transiting” federal networks. It also grants corporations more legal authority to monitor and block their customers’ activities. And it imposes new regulations on companies deemed by a new National Cybersecurity Council to be “critical cyber infrastructure.”
In remarks in July, Lieberman called on his colleagues to join him because otherwise terrorists could “dump raw sewage into our lakes, rivers and streams.” It’s a question, he said, of “how best to protect our national and economic security in this wired world where threats come not from land, sea or sky, but in invisible strings of ones and zeroes.” (See related CBS News video.)
Opposition to Lieberman’s bill hasn’t fallen entirely along party lines. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has emerged as the Senate’s leading defender of privacy rights, said he voted against the bill because it “does not sufficiently safeguard Internet users’ privacy and civil liberties.”
EFF says the Cybersecurity Act is “dangerously vague,” especially because it mentions “modify[ing] or block[ing] data packets,” which the group believes could lead to results like “blocking Tor traffic entirely under the guise of operating cybersecurity countermeasures.” The ACLU said the good news is that the bill doesn’t include a kill switch, but “the bad is that it permits companies to share American internet use data with military agencies like the NSA.” (The ACLU felt more warmly after some pre-vote tweaks.)
The GOP-drafted Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, would permit Internet companies to hand over confidential customer records and communications to the National Security Agency and other portions of the U.S. government. It’s designed to trump all existing federal and state laws, including ones dealing with wiretaps, educational records, and medical privacy.
CYBERSECURITY ACT OF 2012 EXCERPTS
“There is established a National Cybersecurity Council… The Council shall establish procedures under which each owner of critical cyber infrastructure shall report significant cyber incidentsaffecting critical cyber infrastructure… The term ‘critical cyber infrastructure’ means critical infrastructure identified by the Council…
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law…[Homeland Security] may acquire, intercept, retain, use, and disclose communications and other system traffic that are transiting to or from or stored on agency information systems and deploy countermeasures with regard to the communications and system traffic…
“The Secretary may enter into contracts or other agreements, or otherwise request and obtain the assistance of, private entities that provide electronic communication or information security services to acquire, intercept, retain, use, and disclose communications and other system traffic or to deploy countermeasures…”
OBAMA’S CYBERSECURITY DIRECTIVE COULD ALLOW MILITARY DEPLOYMENT WITHIN THE UNITED STATES
Published on Nov 19, 2012 by RTAmerica
Last week, Congress rejected the Cybersecurity Act of 2012. The legislation was aimed at thwarting the threat of a cyberattack, but many believe if legislation like this were to pass Americans would lose their digital privacy. According to reports, President Obama has taken the matter into his own hands and signed Presidential Policy Directive 20 which at the moment is unclear on the powers the government will have over the Internet. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has already put in a request demanding President Obama reveal what is in the directive and Amie Stepanovich with EPIC brings us more on the case.
OBAMA EXECUTIVE ORDER ON CYBERSECURITY COMING IN JANUARY 2013
Details of secretive directive still unclear
Dec 21, 2012
Washington insiders say it is almost certain that Barack Obama will once again bypass Congress in the coming weeks and issue an executive order on cybersecurity, a prospect that has worried privacy groups.
The order is expected to place new demands on private companies to share information with the government, intelligence agencies and even the military. Watchdogs fear that the order will allow the federal government to wield excessive power over areas such as water plants, financial systems and the electric grid.
A permanent legislative solution has not been reached, with the latest effort falling flat in August. Obama was expected to issue the order in December. However, insiders say that the economic crisis has stalled those plans.
“It’d be reasonable to say that releasing the executive order now would irritate Congress and might create an unnecessary burden for reaching a deal on the fiscal issues,” said James Lewis, director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Every day they get closer to Christmas it makes less sense to put it out, unless you want to hide it,” Lewis said.
“With attention on [the] fiscal cliff and the holiday season, it is hard to imagine getting all the agency approvals in place in the next week,” said Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, a partner at Monument Policy Group and former general counsel on the House Homeland Security Committee.
Without specifically commenting on the executive order, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden noted “We have been reaching out extensively to both the private sector and Congress to seek their input, and are continuing our internal deliberations,”
“Given the gravity of the threats we face in cyberspace, we want to get this right, in addition to getting it done swiftly.” Hayden said in a statement.
As we recently reported, the National Security Agency has refused to release details of a secret presidential directive Obama signed off in October which experts believe could allow the military and intelligence agencies to operate on the networks of private companies, such as Google and Facebook.
The directive is also believed to widely expand NSA’s spying authorities.
“The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism.” the Washington Post reported last month.
In response to the move, lawyers with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (PDF) demanding that the Obama administration make public the text of the directive.
The NSA responded to the FOIA request with a statement arguing that it does not have to release the document because it is a confidential presidential communication and it is classified.
“Disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.” the NSA response read.
“Because the document is currently and properly classified, it is exempt from disclosure,” the statement noted.
Attorneys for EPIC say they plan to appeal and force the text of the secret directive to be publicly disclosed.
“We believe that the public hasn’t been able to involve themselves in the cybersecurity debate, and the reason they can’t involve themselves is because they don’t have the right amount of information,” EPIC attorney Amie Stepanovich said.
In an official statement to Congress earlier this year, EPIC explained that the NSA was a “black hole for public information about cybersecurity.”
EPIC is also involved in ongoing lawsuits involving the secret nature of the NSA’s relationship with search engine giant Google, and a similar secretive presidential directive issued in 2008 regarding the NSA’s cybersecurity authority.
As we have also noted, the latest secret directive appears to also legally enable the US military and the NSA to use newly created computer viruses to attack any organisation or country deemed to be a cyber threat. Obama has already shown the willingness to carry out such attacks, as new details surrounding the 2010 stuxnet attack revealed earlier this year.
OBAMA’S SECRET DIRECTIVE ON CYBERSECURITY PROMPTS LAWSUIT
Lawyers say ruling may enable “military deployment within the United States”
Nov 16, 2012
Lawyers with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (PDF) demanding that the Obama administration make public the text of a secret directive on cybersecurity, fearing that it could allow the military and intelligence agencies to operate on the networks of private companies, such as Facebook.
As we highlighted yesterday, a report in the Washington Post, cited several US officials saying that Obama signed off on the secret directive in mid-October.
“The new directive is the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an “offensive” and a “defensive” action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism.” the report states.
EPIC attorneys Amie Stepanovich and Ginger McCall say that Obama’s secret law may enable “military deployment within the United States” to oversee network security at communications companies such as AT&T and Comcast, social networks such as Facebook, and information centers like Google.
“We don’t know what’s in this policy directive and we feel the American public has the right to know.” McCall commented yesterday.
“The NSA’s cyber security operations have been kept very, very secret, and because of that it has been impossible for the public to react to them,” Stepanovich added. “[That makes it] very difficult, we believe, for Congress to legislate in this area. It’s in the public’s best interest, from a knowledge perspective and from a legislative perspective, to be made aware of what authority the NSA is being given.”
“Our concern is buttressed by an earlier FOIA request that we submitted, when [NSA Director] General Keith Alexander had been asked a few questions [during his confirmation hearing] that he did not answer publicly,” Stepanovich told news website Raw Story.
“He submitted answers in a private, classified supplement, which we also do not have publicly available. There was a question about the monitoring of private communication networks. Whatever answer he gave is not public, but it may implicate now what the NSA is attempting to do.” Stepanovich added.
As we noted in our report yesterday, the secret directive appears to also legally enable the US military and the NSA to use newly created computer viruses to attack any organisation or country deemed to be a cyber threat. Obama has already shown the willingness to carry out such attacks, as new details surrounding the 2010 stuxnet attack revealed earlier this year.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.