Dark Days Ahead for the Internet?

Could one of the Internet's better kept secrets - the push by totalitarian countries to establish international control over the Internet - result in dark days ahead for the Internet?

There has been a movement afoot by the United Nations to seize control of the core Internet services. This movement, spearheaded by mostly the totalitarian countries, is taking aim at controlling what information citizens have access to, including news, historical information and social networking. For example, this movement could impact Twitter access, which would result in citizens not being able to tweet about showing up at a demonstration.

The United States has not participated in this movement, and has yet to appoint a person to lead the U.S. delegation that will be voting on this in the near future. According to a recent article written by Robert McDowell for the Wall Street journal, the current status is only 7 countries short of allowing this proposal to pass and allowing countries to cut off the Internet or various services to social networks services to citizens of their country as they see fit.

U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom
Top-down, international regulation is antithetical to the Net, which has flourished under its current governance model.

By Robert McDowell
The Wall Street Journal

On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year's end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish "international control over the Internet" through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices.

If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the Internet's flourishing regime, which has been in place since 1988. That year, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications. This insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly became the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.

Read the entire article online: http://on.wsj.com/AtFCnD

Presently the world is literally at anyone’s fingertips if they have access to the Internet. The current state of the Internet has driven a remarkable and unprecedented surge in new business models, and new businesses that has resulted in consumers having the upper hand in the consumer/vendor relationship. In addition, this has led to a complete transformation of how citizens gain access to news and information of interest to them.

If these regulatory proposals pass, the plugs will start getting pulled on the free exchange of information, causing the network and the Internet as we know it to start to crumble. For example, there will be a lot of links that instantly no longer work and access to some countries as well.

These new regulatory proposals risk what the Internet has become - the major driver of new economic activity and new job creation.

I urge everyone to contact your senators and congress people at the White House to keep the Internet open for business and for the free exchange of information.

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Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology. Ken attended Oxford and Southern Illinois Universities and earned degrees in Accounting and Business Education, with a minor in photography. Ken has designed payroll and accounting software and systems since 1981, is a frequent presenter for national association CPE seminars, a contributor of editorial content for well-respected accounting publications, and speaks at state and national accounting professional events.Ken's blog postings provide readers with insight into how technology trends (i.e. Google, Microsoft, Apple, the FCC, Verizon, the Internet, Web Apps, Web security, etc.) will impact payroll and accounting professionals and business owners.

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