Future of the Internet is up for discussion

Matthew Ahasay, Opinion Editor

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Sept. 4 kicked off an international meeting at the World Conference on International Telecommunications that could be the beginning of end of the Internet as we have come to know it.

While some claim that the meeting is an outlet for a U.N. grab at taking the Internet from America and imposing regulations, it is far from the true nature of the talks. However, there is still cause for concern.

With 190-plus nations in attendance the official reason behind the conference is to update the International Telecommunications Regulations overseen by the International Telecommunications Union which is an agency of the UN.

While the gloom and doom predictions of an internet “kill switch” is unfounded one of the worst fears stemming from the conference, that the session would lead to internet censorship, has already happened. However, the outcome of the two-week session isn’t likely to make much change, as no proposal will be accepted if not agreed to by all nations.

The danger that is likely to stem from the session is from the proposals of some European and Middle Eastern Nations that will affect how we access, pay for and are tracked on the Internet may very well change.

Essentially, what the countries are proposing is treating the Internet like a telephone service, charging a routing cost for the session’s destination.  So an American citizen attempting to read the Guardian online which is located in the U.K. would have to pay and additional international fee as well as decreased performance.

If that model were to come to fruition in the future it would be a serious encroachment on personal accessibility to the Internet and prove detrimental to the entire community.

“That model, in general, lends itself to fewer providers, higher prices, slower take-up of internet and slower economic growth,” said Terry Kramer, the head of the U.S. delegation.

While all of this might seem scary it is important to keep it in perspective. The U.N. is not trying to seize control, especially since the U.S. would fight tooth and nail to prevent such a power change. However, despite the odds being against any of this regulation coming to pass, the idea is being floated around.

If enough support is built and the relatively open and free becomes a burden of world powers we could see a shift in demeanor, even in the U.S. If more regulation is deemed necessary it isn’t a stretch to think that the Internet may be controlled by the U.N. in the future. With bills like SOPA being introduced, we, as users and beneficiaries of a free Internet must be vigilant in its defense. If not, we could be very well be searching an American Wide Web during  our lifetimes.

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