Friday, November 16, 2007

Libertarian Glenn Reynolds supports US government control of the World Wide Web

He writes:

I CALL THIS PROGRESS: "A U.N.-sponsored Internet conference ended Thursday with little to show in closing the issue of U.S. control over how people around the world access e-mail and Web sites."

International resentment about U.S. control of the domain name system is sure to grow, and I can understand that. But on the other hand, while my trust in the U.S. government is not extensive, it's infinitely greater than my trust of the Russians, the Chinese, or the United Nations. And the longer that the internet remains relatively open and uncensored, the harder it will be for them to put the genie back in the bottle later. Some related thoughts can be found here.

As a simplification, I believe there are good libertarians who support liberty beyond our borders, and [ungood] ones who don't.

UPDATE: Fred Thompson agrees:

But countries like China aren’t happy about U.S. control of “the tubes.” They’d rather have the U.N. run it. I wonder how the U.N. would’ve handled the situation in Burma recently when the government cut off all Internet access to all anti-government protesters, or how it would’ve handled the imprisonment in China of dissidents and reporters who emailed news out of the country.

My hunch is that we’d see the same level of management of the Internet from the U.N. that we’ve seen when it came to peacekeeping operations in Africa. Or its management of Saddam Hussein’s “Oil for Food” program. Or its monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if when you look up “fool’s errand” in the dictionary, you find: “Role for United Nations’” as the definition.

It's a bit sad that the U.N. makes the U.S. government--with all of its pandering, corruption, and unintended consequences of policy--look good by comparison.

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