Monday, December 05, 2005

Rulers of the Net

There was a push by the EU to move control of the internet away from US hands a while ago. But out comes Condoleezza Rice swingin', bitch slapping the EU with a letter about internet governance and thus the control of the internet is still in US hands. And now, that letter she wrote has been published. As the article notes, it's pretty stern language for a diplomatic letter and was instrumental in defusing debates about inter-governmental control of the internet. The delegates from the EU were reported as being somewhat miffed to be handed such a slap and, on the other hand, glad that at least they walked away with a box of Rice a Roni, the San Francisco Treat. So thank the Lord and Condoleezza the internet is still in control by the Land of the Free. Amen.

Or wait. Is the Land of the Free, which houses ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ), without its own influences? It was proposed that a .xxx domain be made available for all sites providing pr0nography (euphemistically "adult content") and for a while, it seemed like it was going to happen. With all porn sites restricted to this domain, average users of the internet would much less likely run into a p0rn site accidentally (remember anyone?) and could easily block out all the pr0n spam. Seems like a great idea right?

But then ICANN delayed the plans because the Bush administration opposed it. It's fine to be conservative and to want to protect your kids from the pervasive smut out there but isn't that what .xxx helps us do? How does an argument like "n0rp shouldn't have its own domain. That would be like glorifying it." make sense when faced with, oh I don't know, REALITY. So ICANN is in the land of the free but not free from crazy puritanical influences.

And apparently not free from pride either: ICANN again dropped the plan beginning of this December, supposedly because they didn't want to portray the addition of a .xxx domain as a flaw in the existing internet architecture, which would look bad in front of the EU who does want to get control away from the Americans.

Of course, relatively speaking, the US is a pretty darn good place of governance for a decentralized entity such as the internet and yet it is obviously not without its flaws. It's fine to get on the moral and philosophical high ground to berate others in order to maintain control (it's politics after all), but perhaps such criticism should be applied to ourselves at some point in the near future.

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