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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ministry of Information

How do you feel about a former minister of communication in Communist China running the U.N.'s Internet authority? And how do you feel about that authority now seeking greater regulatory powers?

Hat tip: Instapundit

Posted by Ezra Levant on March 30, 2005 | Permalink


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Tracked on 2005-03-30 8:14:47 PM


The ITU is an international body that has been involved for many years co-ordinating complex government policy in telecommunications and radio communications. Preventing radio interference for example, or preventing the interference with orbital satellites by ground transmissions, all fall within the co-ordination efforts at the ITU. Even Amateur Radio is governed around the globe by the ITU.

The radio frequencies used for commercial broadcast radio stations, both FM and AM as well as television stations are all governed by the ITU. Even the type of television signals used by various countries in their overlapping border areas are governed by the ITU.

In fact, the ITU is rather like ICAO that "governs" civil aviation. The ITU was behind making FAX machines work compatabily around the globe even when the telephone systems themselves were not compatable.

The issue of regulating the Internet is already part of the ITU whether you realize it or not. Things like "country codes" for telephones or email (Canada is *.ca) is all part of the kinds of interference avoidance standards that the ITU promotes.

Quite clearly the ITU will react on a complex question of "spam" which national governments will move increasingly to suppress in the future. It has become "useless" even for advertising because most people today discard it without reading it. Rather like "junk mail" that people throw in the fireplace without reading.

There is another closely related area of Internet regulation and that is in relation to the Paris Convention on Copyright and the misuse of the Internet to violate the copyrights of authors, and musicians and artists.

And there is also an interest by the state in monitoring the Internet, much as it monitors telephones, for terrorist messages, highly secret communications by spies, and other illegal and illicit use of the Internet for illegal or criminal purposes (such as propagating child porn for example).

You may even see a new kind of "postage" for email, where you have to pay perhaps $0.01 per email to have it sent somewhere in the world.

Generally speaking however, the elected head of the ITU cannot dictate to the member states what it will adopt. In this respect the ITU is rather like the United Nations itself. National adoption by a member state is rather like agreeing to a treaty.

I would be far more concerned if the Communist Chinese were heading the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations frankly, then co-ordinating civilian telecommunications policies. Not much room for mischief at the ITU actually.

In fact, if you check back through history, Canada and Poland signed a "memorandum" on amateur radio at the height of the Cold War.

So the sky is not falling.

Posted by: Joe Green | 2005-03-30 4:44:17 PM

The internet seems to be getting along just fine without additional regulation. If we can tolerate junk mail in the post, we can tolerate junk mail in the ether.

Posted by: lrC | 2005-03-30 6:05:34 PM

While some may think that Joe's perspective is the best, remember that as Voltaire said, "The best is the enemy of the good."

Posted by: Tony | 2005-03-30 8:39:32 PM

IrC prefers anarchy. He has a point.

With the ITU regulations, you can transmit a signal from Northern Canada to the South Pole on 7 meters with about 100 watts of power. Without it, anyone can be anywhere, so you need enough power to override whoever gets in your way. Usually a 2000 watt transmitter will walk over weaker transmitter, but then "neocons" love that sort of thing with the "survival of the fittest" or in this case, the most powerful.

Why keep the airwaves clean when you can pollute them as you see fit.

My choice is to use electronic warfare with spread spectrum signals. Pump out even more equivalent power, perhaps 10,000,000 watts. I mean, who gives a shit about anyone else, when its every man for himself. And it sure does feel good to shut down the little guys that stuggle in vain with QRP with a couple of watts.

Its all about the brawn to brain ratio. With dinosaurs its very, very large.

Posted by: Joe Green | 2005-03-31 12:37:53 AM

Now: "Venona Project"

"The Global Left's Vision of Blogging"



"Lenin's Pravda" (Truth)


Lenin's screeds include: "Russians and Negroes" & other agit/propaganda; all consigned to the garbage heap of history.

Ozymandias: "Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Shelley (1792-1822)

Posted by: maz2 | 2005-03-31 12:40:28 PM

I figured out your claim to be an engineer was as unlikely as your claim to be a former CF member a while back, Joe, but I didn't think you were so technically illiterate as to compare wireless to wirebound.

Posted by: lrC | 2005-04-01 12:33:13 AM

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