Today’s internet is open with very few border controls save for a few media restrictions such as YouTube videos and similar media that are annoyingly region restricted. However, if the United Nations has its way, then the internet will lose this freedom, becoming closed, monitored and controlled Big Brother style by various countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries.
Websites such as Legit Reviews would certainly be affected, mainly in the form of censorship over what we could report in our news stories (controversial stories like this one would most likely be a no-no or very watered down) and potentially product reviews too, due to vested interests exerting their influence.
One way they aim to do this is by copying the “sender party pays” model used for making analog phone calls and applying it to the internet – a real crushing, regressive step if ever there was one. This means that instead of worldwide internet communication being free as it is now, it would cost major American internet household names such as Google, Amazon and Facebook real money to serve web pages and other functionality eg cloud backup to residents of foreign countries. They could effectively stop these sites from communicating with other countries by making it prohibitively expensive. Perhaps the ITU could even legislate against communicating with other countries, making it a crime to do so? Proposals for the new ITU treaty are more than 200 pages long, so this is just one small example of what’s in store.
Whether this could be implemented effectively with the distributed, packetized nature of the internet is debatable, but since restrictions can already be placed, it’s certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that much stronger technical and legal restrictions and sanctions could be devised and forced onto websites such as these, preventing the likes of third party proxy sites from getting around the controls. Can you imagine Legit Reviews being restricted to just the US and sanitized to fit this new totalitarian regime? Unthinkable!
It’s perhaps now more important than ever that digital freedom organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are given as much support as possible by having the ordinary person like you and I join them.
Google has started an online petition for a “free and open Internet” saying: “Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future.” The State Department’s top delegate to the Dubai conference, Terry Kramer, has pledged that the U.S. won’t let the ITU expand its authority to the Internet. But he hedged his warning in a recent presentation in Washington: “We don’t want to come across like we’re preaching to others.”
To the contrary, the top job for the U.S. delegation at the ITU conference is to preach the virtues of the open Internet as forcefully as possible. Billions of online users are counting on America to make sure that their Internet is never handed over to authoritarian governments or to the U.N.