As certain countries ask for the internet to be pryed from U.S. control, advocacy groups argue this may diminish free speech.
Just this month the U.S. Department of Commerce loosened its grip on ICANN, allowing for a review in 18 months to determine if the entity should become free of U.S. oversight.
But apparently that isn’t enough for some of the world’s repressive countries, whose dictators feel freedom of speech on the internet is undermining their stability. A top United Nations official lashed out at U.S. control during a U.N. summit in Athens, Greece, reports CNET.
But human rights groups don’t want to see some of the world’s worst dicatators having a say in internet governance:
Human rights groups, however, have warned that many of the nations most critical of the current arrangement–Tunisia, Cuba, Iran, China–rank among the world’s most repressive. The worry: If those governments have their way, the current, virtually limitless amount of free expression on the Internet may come to an end.
The Paris-based advocacy group Reporters Without Borders last week called those reform proposals alarming and asked: “Do we really want the countries that censor the Internet and jail cyberdissidents to be in charge of the online flow of information?” (The group also noted that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights counted, as members, nations such as Libya and Sudan, no champions of human rights themselves.)
Similarly, Amnesty International has sent a delegation here to the Internet Governance Forum to emphasize the need for protecting free speech. “The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is bothered about free expression online and willing to stand up for it,” said Steve Ballinger, part of Amnesty’s delegation.
In the 2006 Domain Name Wire survey of over 500 people, only 38% of respondents favored handing control of ICANN over to an international body. 83% of the respondents lived outside the United States.