Deadline approaches for Russia and China-led U.N. Internet takeover

Thursday, May 24, 2012
By Paul Martin

Josh Peterson

The State Department is expected to finally name a lead negotiator next month for high level international talks with the U.N. in December that would decide the fate of the Internet, a senior U.S. official told Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio last week.

The nomination would come nearly a year after then-Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin announced in June 2011 that he and his allies sought to establish international control over the Internet. At the time, Putin had “reaffirmed” Russia’s support of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) — a little-known U.N. agency responsible for the international regulation of long-distance calls and satellite orbits — as his preferred instrument to bring about international cooperation on cybersecurity and Internet issues. Russia is a co-founder of the ITU, dating back to 1866.

Following Putin’s announcement, Russia, and several of its authoritarian allies – China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – submitted a document entitled “The International Code of Conduct for Information Security” to the U.N. in September 2011. The document was hailed by the Chinese government as “the first relatively comprehensive and systematic document in the world … to formulate international rules to standardize information and cyberspace behavior.”

The Daily Caller first reported in December 2011 that FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell warned the Federal Communications Bar Association of the effort by China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes to upend the Internet from its current model — a voluntary multi-stakeholder process, loosely governed through various U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations.

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