Who really controls the internet?

This article is pretty eye opening re the possibility of ICANN getting dis-mantled by disgruntled poorer countries. Can the internet really be divided into nationalistic fiefdoms and still work effectively?

Plan for UN to run internet ‘will be shelved’

Me and my fellow Stonecutters, of course!

Who controls the British crown?
Who keeps the metric system down?
We do! We do!
Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the martians under wraps?
We do! We do!

Sorry. Please continue.

I’d fight against any attempt to put anything of any value under control of the U.N., so this shelving makes me glad.

Instead of an over-reaching controlling body, subject to corruption and mismanagement and political whim, a better choice is just updated treaties which allow one nation to request assistantance of another in tracking down and prosecuting child-pornographers and spammers within the second nation’s borders. Then it comes down to decisions made by the two nations involved:

Nation 1: Is it worth our time and trouble to demand Nation 2 shut down spam servers affecting our country’s internet system, and can we back it up with threatened economic sanctions if they don’t comply?

Nation 2: Is it worth our time and trouble to regulate our citizens in this way, and is Nation 1 bluffing?

I find this more plausible and effective than anything the U.N. could ever do.

Not every nation on Earth is even a member of the U.N., so any U.N. regulation (assuming it was enforceable at all, which I doubt) would just prompt spammers to move their computers to some isolated hamlet.

Is your post still related to the OP, Bryan?

Control of Internet need not hinge on the prosecution of spammers; the one can and must go beside the other. Currently ICANN “controls” Internet in a limited manner, but lots of nations and organizations are busy with anti-spam measures. If we just agree to lock off all nations that don’t comply with anti-spam measures, and the same for national servers that host or aid spammers, wouldn’t the spam problem stop? Except for hacking, that is.

That will be just totally awesome. Simply by blocking all IPs coming from that place, all problems are solved.

If you’re talking about managing the Internet at a national level, I agree completely, we have seen that some national governments are too vulnerable to influence and corruption (just see the difficulties involved in passing meaningful anti-spam legislation). If you’re referring to the UN, bodies such as ICAO or ITU have a fairly good track record at regulating from on high.

I don’t imagine this working at all in any meaningful fashion. That’s because improper Internet use is a hydra with half a billion heads, and won’t be isolated in the manner you suggest – if anything, it’s becoming even more scattered.

Firstly, spam is significantly distributed geographically speaking, and while a lot of attacks may currently come from places such as China or Russia (where ISPs will take your money and ask few questions), they are often directed by American uber-spammers or people entirely removed but still with the right connections (and that often means corporate America, who is a huge sponsor of spam much like corporate everyhwere else). Spammers may be foul scum, but they aren’t stupid – at least not the able ones.

Secondly, problems such as child pornography are already addressed, albeit frequently incompetently, by bodies such as Interpol and local authorities. The chief difficulty is the snail pace at which these authorities move, though there are indications over the past years that things are speeding up. Again, though, there are serious obstacles, such as different censorship laws, different definitions, and varying age of consent when engaging in pornography: age of consent in Russia is 14 years, an age that clearly qualifies as child porn almost everywhere else but is legal there.

So right there you have significant problems particular to the Internet that won’t be solved easily, not even by an intricate web of cross-connecting treaties. The simple solution is to have one over-reaching authority to regulate the Internet as far as its most serious problems are concerned, and I would consider those to be spam, fraud, security (virus, denial of service attacks, hacking, etc.), and child pornography. Having a central authority to manage these highly significant problems could only be a good thing, since standards would hopefully be imposed across most if not all the globe with less regard for the voices of big business (as represented in the US by the powerful Direct Marketing Association, whose gaffes in trying to restrict the definition of spam for the sake of e-mail marketing were simply laughable but regardless succeeded in blocking or delaying important initiatives)

The above scenario is a lot better than the present situation, because at least then you’d have a clear and restricted target to approach with a solution, such as negotiating with the government in question and/or blocking the entire nation where the spammers are hiding (although blocking is usually a problematic practice). As things stand today, a spammer could reside in Illinois but have the dirty work done pretty much anywhere in the world – shutting down the servers he uses is at the most a brief fix because he’ll simply find more, sometimes even without the knowledge of the hardware’s owner.

I doubt we would have a tenth of the Internet abuses we have today if we had a central over-reaching authority regulating Internet use, as long as the authority sticks to fraud, spam, security, and child porn.