Senator Coleman’s red flag

In today’s Wall Street Journal Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman raises the red flag over next month’s United Nations meeting in Tunis later this month: “Beware a digital Munich.” Here’s his opening:

It sounds like a Tom Clancy plot. An anonymous group of international technocrats holds secretive meetings in Geneva. Their cover story: devising a blueprint to help the developing world more fully participate in the digital revolution. Their real mission: strategizing to take over management of the Internet from the U.S. and enable the United Nations to dominate and politicize the World Wide Web. Does it sound too bizarre to be true? Regrettably, much of what emanates these days from the U.N. does.

The Internet faces a grave threat. We must defend it. We need to preserve this unprecedented communications and informational medium, which fosters freedom and enterprise. We can not allow the U.N. to control the Internet.

The threat is posed by the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society taking place later this month in Tunisia. At the WSIS preparatory meeting weeks ago, it became apparent that the agenda had been transformed. Instead of discussing how to place $100 laptops in the hands of the world’s children, the delegates schemed to transfer Internet control into the hands of intrigue-plagued bureaucracies.

The low point of that planning session was the European Union’s shameful endorsement of a plan favored by China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Cuba that would terminate the historic U.S. role in Internet government oversight, relegate both private enterprise and non-governmental organizations to the sidelines, and place a U.N.-dominated group in charge of the Internet’s operation and future. The EU’s declaration was a “political coup,” according to London’s Guardian newspaper, which predicted that once the world’s governments awarded themselves control of the Internet, the U.S. would be able to do little but acquiesce.

I disagree. Such acquiescence would amount to appeasement. We cannot allow Tunis to become a digital Munich.

Senator Coleman proposes a Sense of the Senate Resolution:

Responding to the present danger, I have initiated a Sense of the Senate Resolution that supports the four governance principles articulated by the administration on June 30:

• Preservation of the security and stability of the Internet domain name and addressing system (DNS).

• Recognition of the legitimate interest of governments in managing their own country code top-level domains.

• Support for Icann as the appropriate technical manager of the Internet DNS.

• Participation in continuing dialogue on Internet governance, with continued support for market-based approaches toward, and private-sector leadership of, its further evolution.

I also intend to seek hearings in advance of the Tunis Summit to explore the implications of multinational politicization of Internet governance. While Tunis marks the end of the WSIS process, it is just the beginning of a long, multinational debate on the values that the Internet will incorporate and foster. Our responsibility is to safeguard the full potential of the new information society that the Internet has brought into being.

As Matt Drudge would say, developing…

UPDATE: Readers Peg Kaplan and Fred of Del Mar writes to advise that the Online Journal is free this week.

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