Thursday, March 27, 2014

Obama: Surrendering The Internet, Too

As if American foreign policy wasn't enough of a joke under the Obama administration, what with all the bowing and spineless bluster of unenforced red lines, the latest big story to be horribly underplayed by the sycophantic media is the fact that Obama is planning to give away control of the Internet.  Don't laugh, it's a much bigger deal than you might think:
When it comes to the Internet, there's never really been much question about who owns, operates, and influences it the most: The U.S. does.

But that will all change in 2015, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) cedes U.S. control to a global amalgam of Internet groups.

ICANN is the entity that controls assigning and administration of top level domain names--the .coms and .nets and .orgs with which Internet users are so familiar.

As a result of the changes, you and your business may face higher prices, less Web security, less consistent service, and, potentially, less freedom of speech.
Keep in mind the fact that this is coming from a business-centric website rather than a political one.  That's how mind-bogglingly obvious this mistake is.  Not that business websites can't play in politics, of course - they just don't do it very often.  By taking a political stance on anything, you almost invariably alienate half (or at least a significant portion) of your customers.  It's just not worth it most of the time.  So, it's all the more poignant coming from this source.

Let's look at some specifics of how it will affect you:
While ICANN has operated like a monopoly for decades, it's been a fairly well-regulated one, Rosenzweig says. So when ICANN announced in 2012 that it would release 2,000 new domain extensions, prices to obtain them did not spin wildly out of control, Rosenzweig says. That could change with more members controlling ICANN.

That's particularly important to business owners, because when you buy your domain name, you usually have to buy all the others related to your brand, to prevent competitors from muscling in on your territory.

To illustrate how expensive it can be already for companies to purchase new domain extensions, when ICANN released the new domain extensions two years ago, Google submitted applications in four categories, such as trademarks (.google), core businesses (.docs), subsidiaries (.youtube), as well as domain names they thought had creative potential (.lol). It spent an estimated $18 million for those.

Similarly, Amazon reportedly spent $14 million acquiring new domain names two years ago.
Plan on buying anything online?  Plan on paying more for it after this transition giveaway takes place.
Another concern is how well-managed the technology around naming will be going forward. The technical management provided by Verisign for the past 14 years has generally been efficient, without significant service outages, experts say. The new ICANN will have to decide who runs this function, and could possibly put it out to bid for another company, or companies, to handle. And the switch could cause service interruptions, or worse. ...
Technology entrepreneurs like Tejune Kang, founder and chief executive of Six Dimensions, a small business that offers mobile and Web content management as well as cyber-security solutions to other businesses, worries that security breaches could become more common as well, should Verisign's role be phased out, or handed over to multiple parties.

"A hacker could get in, figure who the domains and IP addresses belong to, and the hierarchy and blueprint for the whole Internet could be exposed," Kang says.
Who else has the infrastructure in place to run a global technology network like what we're used to?  No one besides us.  Giving control to anyone else will be an invitation to both security breaches and simple failures making the unholy joining of Comcast and Time Warner Cable look rock solid.  We're used to the Internet simply working, all the time.  Kiss that goodbye.

And here's the biggie, if you ask me:
Additionally many countries have more restrictive attitudes toward freedom of speech, and that could cause some problems with certain domain names themselves under new management.

"The Internet is the forum for free speech today, so who will [ICANN] bind themselves to, to protect free speech, and openness, and not ban .gay or .islam?" Rosenzweig says.
Or what about content?  How long will it be before Communist-style censors start shutting down websites because they openly endorse political or religious views that the reigning governments don't like?  Not that anything like that would happen under Obama's watch, of course.

Still, take a look at any attempt by a third world dictator to quell an uprising in the populace, and you'll see one of the first things that happens is that pieces of Internet access -- if not the whole thing -- are severely choked or cut off.  That's because it's an open medium that inherently promotes free speech and transparency.  Our own government is bad enough, but just imagine how open and transparent the Internet is going to be with Russia, China, or pretty much any Middle Eastern/Islamic nation holding serious influence over policy.  Syria, for example, seems to have made a habit of cutting off Internet access when the people get too greedy for pesky little things like political freedom and discourse.  In fact, they did it again just a few days ago.  Even Turkey, that supposed bastion of Islamic tolerance and sophistication, that gateway nation that joins the best of Islam with the best of the West in what gives delusional liberals optimism for a willing dhimmitude in our, my, my, they just cut off Twitter a few days ago because the political discontent bouncing around the social media platform hit a little too close to home.  Perhaps they'll be on the governing committee of the new ICANN...?

There's even a formal organization, Reporters Without Borders, dedicated to preserving Internet freedom around the globe.  The NSA's recent activities have landed the U.S. on the Enemies of the Internet list for the first time this year, but it's a simple enough task to reform the NSA and clear the air (though Obama isn't about to do that).  Still, if you question the assertions in this article about many nations throttling Internet access for political gain, just take a spin through the list (here) and you'll see that this happens constantly, and if anything, the article actually downplays the danger.

Has American stewardship of ICANN and the Internet been perfect?  Of course not.  Should things be reformed in the light of the recent NSA spying messes?  Definitely.  Is giving away control like this the right answer?  You'd have to be a complete mind-numbed idiot (or a liberal Obama supporter) to think so.  The correct answer is a resounding no, for many reasons.

Now you're informed.  You might consider contacting your Senators and Congressman to give them your thoughts on the subject.  Sure, it's down the road a ways, but there's no reason to even let this proposal survive to see an actual attempt at legislation.  Sound off now, and hopefully we won't have to fight it back later.

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