November 12, 2012 – News.com.au
AN unfettered internet, free of political control and available to everyone could be relegated to cyber-history under a contentious proposal by a little known United Nations body.
Experts claim that Australians could see political and religious websites disappear if the Federal Government backs a plan to hand control over the internet to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
A draft of the proposal, formulated in secret and only recently posted on the ITU website for public perusal, reveal that if accepted, the changes would allow government restriction or blocking of information disseminated via the internet and create a global regime of monitoring internet communications – including the demand that those who send and receive information identify themselves.
It would also allow governments to shut down the internet if there is the belief that it may interfere in the internal affairs of other states or that information of a sensitive nature might be shared.
Telecommunications ministers from 193 countries will meet behind closed doors in Dubai next month to discuss the proposal, with Australia’s Senator Stephen Conroy among them.
The move has sparked a ferocious, under-the-radar diplomatic war between a powerful bloc of nations, led by China and Russia, who want to exert greater controls on the net and western democracies determined to preserve the free-wheeling, open architecture of the World Wide Web.
The battle for control has also seen a cartel of telco corporations join forces to support amended pricing regulations changes which critics warn will pave the way for significant increases in the cost of day-to-day internet use, including email and social media.