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Cerf surfs again in the troubled water of Internet

Vinton Cerf is credited with developing the protocols and structure of the Internet and the first commercial email system. He has been loud against the shifting of Internet’s control to ITU and effectively nationalizing it. He wrote an op-ed in New York Times and passionately testified before the U.S. lawmakers. Cerf has recently denounced ITU and its control-freak members in the harshest language:

These persistent attempts are just evidence that this breed of dinosaurs, with their pea-sized brains, hasn’t figured out that they are dead yet, because the signal hasn’t traveled up their long necks.

Yesterday Vinton Cerf has further unmasked these “dead dinosaurs” in CNN:

Some of these governments are trying to use a closed-door meeting of The International Telecommunication Union that opens on December 3 in Dubai to further their repressive agendas. Accustomed to media control, these governments fear losing it to the open internet. They worry about the spread of unwanted ideas. They are angry that people might use the internet to criticize their governments.

The ITU is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old treaty that was focused on basic telecommunications, not the internet. Some proposals leaked to the WICITLeaks website from participating states could permit governments to justify censorship of legitimate speech — or even justify cutting off internet access by reference to amendments to the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs).

Cerf has simplified the dire consequences of Internet being nationalized:

Several authoritarian regimes reportedly propose to ban anonymity from the web, making it easier to find and arrest dissidents. Others have proposed moving the responsibilities of the private sector system that manages domain names and internet addresses to the United Nations. Yet other proposals would require any internet content provider, small or large, to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders.

The upshot? The next garage-based phenomena would face a steep and probably insurmountable financial hurdle in its effort to become the next YouTube, Facebook or Skype.

Is Vinton Cerf a UN-basher? He clarifies:

Let us be clear: We do not advocate for an end to the ITU. The UN agency has helped the world manage radio spectrum and wired and wireless telephone networks, bringing much needed investment to the developing world.

But this inter-governmental agency is the wrong place to make decisions about the future of the internet. Only governments have a vote at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.

The full article of Vinton Cerf in CNN is here.

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