MediaFile

How the United Nations could ruin the Internet

The Internet has sustained some pretty intense assaults in the past couple of years. There was the heavy-handed attempt to stamp out content piracy with SOPA/PIPA, the Federal Communications Commission’s Net neutrality ruling, which many saw as splitting the baby, and that whack job who claimed to own a patent on the World Wide Web.

It is again open season on the Internet in Dubai, where the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency ‑ whose mandate includes global communications ‑ is weighing proposals from many of its 193 member nations. Some of these proposals ‑ such as decentralizing the assignment of website names and eliminating Internet anonymity ‑ would make enormous changes to the organization and management of the Internet.

The ITU meeting, which began on Monday, runs through Dec. 14. Its agenda, and even the fact the proceedings are taking place at all, set off alarms among the Internet’s guardian angels.

Among the most vocal critics are a founder of the Internet, Vint Cerf, and of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee. Theirs is not some misplaced paternal instinct or senior graybeard moment or cry for attention. These guys are worried. And if they are worried, we all should be.

Still not sure this is serious business? The U.S. House of Representatives, which cannot agree on anything, voted unanimously to ban ITU regulation of the Internet before it even happens. The European Union did that last month, before the ITU even met.

from Global News Journal:

Dream job or snake pit? UN appoints new spokesman

By Patrick Worsnip

It's not uncommon for journalists at some point in their careers to cross the barricades and become the people who dish out the news as spokespersons for an organization or firm, rather than being on the receiving end. It requires a different set of skills that can make the transition tough, and a stern test confronts former Reuters correspondent Martin Nesirky, who has just been appointed spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. After a high-flying career at Reuters that saw him fill senior editorial positions in London, Berlin, Moscow and Seoul, Nesirky has had some time to acclimatize to his new role by working for more than three years as spokesman for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), based in Vienna. But the move to New York brings much more formidable challenges.

Like any U.N. spokesperson, Nesirky, a Briton, will have to take into account the concerns of the 192 nations that belong to the world body. That's 192 different governments that can get upset by something he might say. But his chief problem may be his boss Ban, whose public image, to put it mildly, could take a little burnishing. Aside from his awkward use of English, which has television producers tearing their hair, Ban has had a rough ride from hostile media that have accused him of failing to use his position to end the world's conflicts and right its wrongs. (Defenders say he is more effective than he appears, works tirelessly behind closed doors, and has made at least some progress on such intractable issues as climate change, global poverty and the crisis in Darfur.)

Then there is the sprawling and ill-defined nature of the U.N. press and public relations operation, with different officials and factions competing for the secretary-general's attention and waiting to pounce on any mis-step by one of the others. The outgoing spokeswoman, Michele Montas of Haiti, stuck to the job for less than three years. In trying to stay close to the South Korean secretary-general, Nesirky could benefit from his knowledge of the Korean language from his time in Seoul. He is also married to a South Korean. But these advantages too could be a double-edged sword. U.N. diplomats have long complained that Ban is happiest in a Korean comfort zone and relies too much on a compatriot who serves as his deputy chief-of-staff, Kim Won-soo.

As a white male from a Western permanent member of the Security Council, Nesirky could also face suspicion from diversity lobbies and from the developing world, which already sees Ban as too much in thrall to the United States. (Ban's U.S. critics make the opposite accusation.)

It’s oh so quiet … Are tech/telecom trade shows done for?

“I remember 1999, there were five-storey booths here and every hall was packed”, Egypt’s communications minister Tarek Kamel complains.

He was speaking at the sidelines of ITU Telecom World, a global conference sponsored by the United Nations’ information and communications agency.

This year the meeting halls are filled with just enough people to not seem empty. But there’s no need to elbow your way through throngs of people eyeballing what’s hot and new in the telecoms world.