The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 October 2005

Tell Kofi to bite a root

The United Nations is persuaded that it, and not those awful Americans, ought to have control of the Internet. Aside from being totally unfair to Al Gore, this is a generally bad idea, but it really can't be implemented:

ICANN, the corporation that distributes IP addresses and domain names, doesn't own the Internet, nor does the United States government. The Internet is a standard; anyone who's willing to communicate in conformance with that standard can come aboard. No one can own a standard, though persons can squabble, as the UN has been doing, over whose proposed alterations to it should be respected.

Imagine for a moment that the UN were to put itself forward as an alternative to ICANN, and were to designate its own collection of root servers and domains. Would that have any particular bearing on what standards we in the United States might choose to observe in our digital communications? Only this: it would compel us to choose between the root servers and domains that have been nominated by ICANN, and those put forward in their place by the United Nations Committee Overseeing Overall Linkage (UNCOOL). Inasmuch as the overwhelmingly greater part of Internet activity, particularly commercial Internet activity, is based in these United States, we would hold the whip hand regardless of any and all UN assertions or maneuverings to the contrary. It would simply be about which set of standards users would choose to employ.

See Beta vs. VHS for comparison.

John F. (comment to previous link) explans how UNCOOL would work:

The Security Council would require that posts critical of the UN or constituent government members be restricted in the interests of "amity".

UNCOOL would levy a "small" use tax to defray "administrative costs" necessary to support their "management conferences" in such internet hotspots as Tahiti.

Users would be required to register with UNCOOL in order to ensure that only "responsible" people had access to the internet. Registration approval could be expected (by snail mail) only a year after the necessary registration fees were paid (and paid, and paid).

UNCOOL would be forced to establish the Internet Police (UNIP) in order to ensure that internet regulations (UNIR) were complied with. Spamming would become a capital offense unless conducted within a certified third world country by an oppressed minority. Hackers would be shot on sight by UNIP thus saving the costs of unnecessary trials.

We could get the same results by turning the whole shebang over to the Mafia, and probably a hell of a lot cheaper to boot.

Posted at 7:43 AM to PEBKAC

... I could here the new AOL come on now ... "We have an offer you CAN'T refuse".

After all it's "just business" :)

Posted by: ron at 8:46 AM on 4 October 2005

The mafia, huh? I'm trying to imagine what effect this would have on the volume of porn and "pharma" spam I get in my inbox.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:00 AM on 4 October 2005

Hand the 'net over to the UN, and I think of what China, Italy, France, etc., will do to it. That speculation is worth a post in itself. But bottom-line, since we're playing with acronyms - If it ever happened, you'd have to change ICANN to ICAN'T.

Posted by: Mr. Snitch! at 9:40 PM on 9 October 2005