Wednesday, March 30, 2005
On this day:

U.N. Wants to Get Involved in Internet Governance

See this interview with Mr. Houlin Zhao, director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of the International Telecommunications Union, a U.N. agency. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

"The whole world is looking for a better solution for Internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation," Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said last year. Zhao, a former government official in China's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, has been in his current job since 1999.
When a Chi-Com talks about achieving a "better solution for Internet governance," there's lots to be worried about.

In a series of speeches over the last year, Zhao has suggested that the ITU could become involved in everything from security and spam to managing how Internet Protocol addresses are assigned. The ITU also is looking into some aspects of voice over Internet Protocol--VoIP--communications, another potential area for expansion.

Hmmm...I wonder if e-mails and instant messages condemning Chi-Com human rights violations would constitute "spam" in Mr. Zhao's view? Likewise, would he consider bloggers a "security" threat?

"Countering spam is just one of many elements of protecting the Internet that include availability during emergencies and supporting public safety and law enforcement officials," Zhao wrote in December. Also, he wrote, the ITU "would take care of other work, such as work on Internet exchange points, Internet interconnection charging regimes, and methods to provide authenticated directories that meet national privacy regimes."
Guess that answers the question. According to Zhao, protecting the Internet would include "supporting public safety and law enforcement officials" and "meeting national privacy regimes."

Here's more of Mr. Zhao, in his own words:

Anything which concerns the future development of the Internet will be part of the question of Internet governance. It covers a very wide range of topics not just related to technology development, service development, but also policy matters, sovereignty, security, privacy, almost anything...

On freedom of speech, I don't see it as a pure technical issue. In my opinion, freedom of speech seems to be a politically sensitive issue. A lot of policy matters are behind it. It's not in ITU's competence, but of course we can make some contributions...

People say the Internet flourished because of the absence of government control. I do not agree with this view. I argue that in any country, if the government opposed Internet service, how do you get Internet service?