Freedom and the free flow of ideas and information took a blow this week.
The Wall Street Journal reports that 89 nations signed a treaty to restrict and exert greater control over the internet at the recently concluded World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). Twenty countries, including the United States, refused to sign the new treaty. A new war has been ushered in by this decision. As Yoda would have said, “The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun the Digital Cold War has.”
The new treaty “extends control over Internet companies, not just telecoms” and allows the signing countries to “invoke U.N. authority to take control over access to the internet,” according to the WSJ. This includes “the U.N.’s blessing to censor, monitor traffic, and prosecute troublemakers.” The nations signing the new treaty represented the “authoritarian majority” of the United Nations and included Russia, China, Arab countries, Iran and much of Africa.
The WSJ reported that “authoritarian governments want to legitimize government censorship, tax Internet traffic that crosses national boundaries and mandate that ITU bureaucrats replace the nongovernmental engineering groups now smoothly running the Internet.”