Battle for the Internet Update 2

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One of my first few postings (here and here)were about a recent spat between the US control over ICANN and pressure from the EU and UN (most vocally Brazil, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia) to bring control of ICANN, with a further rounds of meetings planned for November at Tunis.

Here are three updates – including our first correction!

EU’s New Friends on the Internet – Iran, China and Saudi Arabia

While taking lead charge against the US, EU has continously stated they wanted to take a middle ground calling for multi-latera approach, but not meddling with the Internet’s free access (which many folks worry that Iran, Saudi Arabia etc want):

But EU negotiators are adamant that they reject calls for state control of internet content. “None of this is about content and that is a big difference between the EU position and the position of China and Brazil,” one negotiator said. (Link)

While the stated intentions of the EU maybe true, what would the EU really do if the say China (a major economic power) and Iran demanded some greater control and access over the Internet through the proposed UN body? Could the U.S., EU and the Anglosphere stand behind adamently against a country that proposes possible restrictions of the Internet? Or would they be deterred by charges of “Western Neo-Imperialism”?

And is it strange that the biggest proponent of the UN control are the less then free countries? The former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt recognizes, such a problem as mentioned in his blog: “It seems as if the European position has been hijacked by officials that have been driven by interests that should not be ours. We really can’t have a Europe that is applauded by China and Iran and Saudi Arabia on the future governance of the internet. Even those critical of the United States must see where such a position risks taking us.”

According to the WSJ, some European telecom companies are also a little worried about EU’s position:

However, some telecom companies have objected to the European Commission’s latest move. “I’ve been getting urgent calls from our members, and they are upset,” says Michael Bartholomew, director of the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association, which represents 42 major companies in 35 countries. (”Europe Telecoms Object to EU Plan for Policing Web“)

EU Warns, “The Internet will break apart by November!” Not really

There has been articles lately with the headline “EU says internet could fall apart” and the like. But from what we can tell, here is the actuall quote (oddly, from the same article):

The European commission warned “that if a deal cannot be reached at a meeting in Tunisia next month the internet will split apart.” European IT commissioner stated that “countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and some Arab states could start operating their own versions of the internet and the ubiquity that has made it such a success will disappear.”

The phrase “the ubiquity that has made it such a success will disappear” is a huge cry from saying the Internet will break. What may happen in the short-run is that large pockets of the web will be invisible to one another with countries blocking rivaling nation’s web site.

Correction

Lastly, Strategy Unit would like to clearify some points we’ve possibly erred on : From what I’ve gathered, an organization like ICANN controls only two things: 1) IP addresses – a numerical address assigned to every device connected to the Internet 2) Top-Level Domain Names – like .com, .org etc and those of countries, like .au, .us, .jp etc.

Previously, I alluded to potentially blocking a specific web site, like say google.com. But, while I still see lots of articles establishing similar concerns, I cannot confirm if blocking a specific web site or IP-address (which every web site must have) is technically possible through ICANN? Anyone care to comment?