He who has the gold makes the rules
Posted by aogWednesday, 16 November 2005 at 20:33 TrackBack Ping URL

Apparently the set of nations hoping to get the USA to enforce their preferred internet content restrictions have decided to save face rather than impact an unmovable object. It is strongly to President Bush’s credit that the USA took such a firm stand against letting oppressive governments decide what was “legal” content for the internet.

Of course, the point was always to control content elsewhere for those countries, such as China. There is absolutely nothing stopping China from dropping off the American controlled internet. The only reason servers in China ask the root servers in America about addresses is because the servers in China have been configured to do so. That configuration is trivial to change any time the ChiComs want to do so. Yet that doesn’t happen, because even now the economic impact on China would be immense (among other things, what Western companies are going to invest in a nation that doesn’t have internet access back to the West?).

The standard complaint about the current situation is American hegemony. But if one looks at, say, the UK, the USA says “here’s the top level domain ‘.uk’. Do whatever you like under that.”. It’s hard to see how much more control the UK would really want.

From this we can see that the only purpose of the UN conference would be to be able to apply Chinese restrictions on content to servers in the USA. Yet that never really worried me, because even the most craven of our elected officials would not want to be on the receiving end of complaints about why Joe Citizen needs the permission of the UN to set up a website about his favorite hunting dog. Moreover, the USA can simply ignore the UN as I noted above China could do. And other nations, when faced with the prospect of hooking up to the American internet or the UN one, will make the right choice.

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