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    The Big Picture Internet and US National Security?
    posted by Mueller on Sunday December 19 2004, @06:26PM

    Bruce Levinson is confused. If you care about the Internet you need to pay attention to the nature and implications of his confusion.

    Levinson is the sole proprietor of the web site ICANNFocus.org and a frequent submitter of articles from that site to ICANNWatch. Problem is, Levinson can't seem to make up his mind about whether he's for or against Internet freedom. In his latest series of articles, Levinson simultaneously warns of authoritarian foreign governments using WSIS and its Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) to interfere with the liberty of the Internet. And in the next breath - no, in virtually the same breath - he praises CIA spook George Tenet's call for subordinating the Internet to U.S. national security interests. Something's screwy here.



    In one of his latest contributions, which was (unfortunately) reposted here on ICW, WSIS is decried as "a move that is deeply at odds with American values and security interests." Note the interesting juxtaposition: "American values" AND American "security interests." That statement encapsulates the contradiction that grips so much Washington DC-based thinking about the Internet and international efforts to come to grips with its governance.

    To me, "American values" invokes democracy, freedom of speech, openness, free markets, unmanaged, robust dissent and expression, diversity, and tolerance. Sadly, the term "American security interests" has come to mean just the opposite: systematic surveillance, pre-emptive wars, secrecy, self-censorship and fear, pathetic legal rationalizations for torture, flagrant disregard for the Geneva conventions, and so on.

    If Mr. Levinson (quoting the more consistent and reputable organization Reporters without Borders) believes that "Holding a summit in Tunisia about the free flow of online information is...absurd," and that "holding a [WSIS] preparatory meeting in a country like Syria, where an Internet user is in prison for simply e-mailing a newsletter, is chilling," then why isn't it equally chilling to have U.S. spy agencies talking openly about the need for "regulation, control and governance" of the Internet? The US government's power vastly exceeds that of small-time dictatorships like Syria and Tunisia. However dreadful the control of those states may be to the people who must live under them, it pales in comparison to the power of the US state, which can invade countries, project its laws globally, and disable global Internet services with the issuance of a single command. Ask Dmitry Sklyarov who's a bigger threat to Internet freedom: the FBI or tiny Tunisia. Ask Indy Media whose arm is longer: China's or the USG's.

    Americans have a right to be suspicious and concerned about the attempts of authoritarian states to rein in the Internet. But they must not let their values be exploited and abused by hypocrites who divert their attention from an objective assessment of the real threats.

    But hey, maybe Levinson is not really confused. Maybe the illogical combination of attacking the authoritarianism of other states while promoting the right of one, very large and powerful state to subordinate the Internet to its own self-defined "security interests" makes perfect sense -- as a fundraising pitch in the age of George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, and other Big Government Conservatives and neocons, who have raised to a new level the craft of equating "American values" with the right of the American military and spy agencies to do whatever they please.

     
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      Related Links  
    · ICANNWatch.org
    · reposted here on ICW,
    · (quoting the more consistent and reputable organization Reporters without Borders)
    · Ask Indy Media whose arm is longer:
    · ICANNFocus.org
    · More The Big Picture stories
    · Also by Mueller
     
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    Internet and US National Security? | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 5 comments | Search Discussion
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    Something's screwy here
    by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Monday December 20 2004, @08:58AM (#14593)
    User #2810 Info
    Milton Mueller writes:
    In one of his [Bruce Levinson's] latest contributions, which was (unfortunately) reposted here on ICW...
    Why unfortunately? How would not publishing Levinson's latest contribution jibe with your call for freedom of expression and robust dissent? -g
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]


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