Bob Barr

While talk of the United States tumbling over a so-called “fiscal cliff” dominates news cycles in the nation’s capital and other major cities, on the other side of the planet, the United Nations is quietly but relentlessly pressing to take control of the Internet. It is being aided in this illicit endeavor by various totalitarian regimes, and by many smaller states that routinely use their strength in numbers to bash America.

The vehicle chosen by the internationalists for this power grab is the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), one of the many aged bureaucracies that long ago lost any degree of relevance in the modern world. ITU members, including the United States, are meeting in Dubai this week and next to consider the future of the “open Internet.” No good can come of this project, but the American representatives – as befitting the Obama Administration’s penchant for vagueness and conciliation in international affairs – has been less than aggressive in opposing the ITU’s brazen effort to gain control of the Internet.

In a single generation, the Internet has given to virtually every person on the face of the earth the ability to communicate with fellow human beings on virtually any topic, at any time, and in every nook and cranny on the globe. This magnificent invention has done this without succumbing to government control. The “open Internet” – reflecting standards and protocols set by the non-governmental Internet Society -- truly is “open”; and it is from this openness and independence from government that it derives its great power. Make the Internet subject to control by government, either directly or indirectly through meddling international bureaucracies, and it will quickly lose its magic and its inherent power to inform.

Yet this is exactly what ITU members such as China, Russia, Syria, North Korea and Saudi Arabia are attempting to accomplish in Dubai. They must not be allowed to succeed.

None of these governments admits publicly that among the real reasons they seek to vest control of the Internet in the United Nations, is to control the substance of information transmitted over it. They claim benign motives, such as seeking to protect the world’s citizens from terrorists and other “evil” persons and entities using the Internet to do harm. In typical U.N. double-speak, ITU's top official, Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, attempted to allay concerns by claiming the organization he heads is seeking only to institute “light touch” regulation.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.