The Coming Internet Power Grab
the past ten years the Internet and the World Wide Web have transformed
much of the world. New technology has ushered in a truly global
economy. Whereas communications overseas used to take weeks by mail,
or was very expensive by telephone, an email can travel halfway
around the world in a matter of minutes or less. The Web has revolutionized
commerce, moreover. Anyone with the know-how can put up a website
and sell items online. It is possible for a person in Italy to buy
from someone in Bangkok. A few weeks ago I purchased a CD from a
music store in Sweden off the store’s website. There are
people earning substantial incomes hawking their wares on eBay.
for our purposes is that the Internet has become the last highly
visible free speech zone in our increasingly politically correct
society. Although many companies monitor their employees’ email
and activities online, and Internet Service Providers often keep
an eye on the sites they host to ensure that no one on their servers
advocates violence, these are local controls. By and large the Internet
as a whole is unregulated. Thus with rare exceptions, free speech
is indeed free. There are sites advocating paleoconservatism, neoconservatism,
liberalism (both the classical and doctrinaire sorts), anarchism,
libertarianism, or socialism or communism or anti-Semitism. These
sites may each have their respective critics, but critics cannot
force them out of cyberspace. Since Matt Drudge set up the first
independent cyber-commentary site, the Drudge Report, and exposed
Bill Clinton’s trysts with Monica Lewinsky, Internet commentators
have been at the head of the pack. They sometimes scoop mainstream
media sources or report events and points of view that the mainstream
media steadfastly avoid.
on the Web can you read detailed criticisms of the legality of the
income tax, for example, or of the Federal Reserve banking cartel
or unlimited immigration. Only on the web you can find out that
NAFTA and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas are pseudo-free
trade agreements. Now that the Republican Party has fallen completely
into the hands of big-government centralists, only on the Web can
you read criticisms of the U.S. Department of Education (once on
the Republican chopping block, but not since the neocons took over).
Criticisms of government schools are around, but you’re most likely
to come into contact with these through something you’ve encountered
on the Web. They’re certainly not going to come to you through the
mainstream media which has been in bed with state-sponsored schooling
of us owe substantial portions of our writing careers to the cyber-community.
We most likely would not be published in most mainstream outlets;
our views are too (shall we say) adventurous. Moreover, as a struggling
academic philosopher (c.1987–1995), I had few readers. (No one reads
academic journals, after all.) Now, as an independent scholar and
Internet commentary writer, I have more readers than all but a handful
of academic philosophers. For whatever such numbers are worth.
Internet and World Wide Web have brought all of us closer together.
Some would say it has helped erase national borders, although what
it has done has encouraged genuine free trade along with the free
and open communication of ideas. I’ve received emails from readers
as far away as Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. The Web has grown and developed
spontaneously, as millions of people have put up websites on every
subject imaginable. More and more people are logging on every day.
As a highly decentralized medium for the exchange of goods, services
and ideas, the World Wide Web stands as absolute proof that you
do not need centralization to have order.
is true that the Web is not a toy. There is much on the Web that
is not for children. The onus is on parents to monitor what their
children and teenagers do online. Just type the word sex
into the search engine of your choice, and you’ll see what I mean.
There is nasty stuff on the Web, and it generates billions of dollars
a year. I would expect no less when a fallen people gets its hands
on such a powerful technology. No one, however, is forced to visit
pornographic sites on the Web. I for one am acutely uncomfortable
with the argument that the government ought to outlaw such sites.
Having tasted power, what will the censors want to eliminate next?
There’s also the email nuisance called spam. I admit I don’t
share the extreme antipathy to spam that some people do. Some of
it is actually interesting, some of the time. When I find it annoying,
I hit delete. I don’t go running to the government to pass
laws against it.
point is, at present we don’t have a committee of bureaucratic overseers
dictating what anyone does on the Internet. Today’s question: is
this about to change? Are we about to see a gradual erosion of the
freedom and spontaneity that characterizes Internet activity, commercial
past week (December 10–12) in Geneva, Switzerland, a globalist organization
within the United Nations called the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) hosted the first of two World
Summits on the Information Society (WSIS). The planning that
went into these Summits dates back to the late 1990s. In 2001, the
UN General Assembly endorsed the ITU’s framework for this first
is the challenge as the ITU defines it: "The modern world is
undergoing a fundamental transformation as the industrial society
that marked the 20th century rapidly gives way to the
information society of the 21st century. The dynamic
process promises a fundamental change in all aspects of our lives,
including knowledge dissemination, social interaction, economic
and business practices, political engagement, media, education,
health, leisure and entertainment." So far, so good; all this
should be obvious. But the passage concludes, "To benefit the
world community, the successful and continued growth of this new
dynamic requires global discussion" (emphasis mine).
my friends, should cause the hairs at the nape of your neck to rise
just a little. Given the spontaneity and immense complexity of this
"new dynamic," what kind of "global discussion,"
and to what purpose?
follows looks like an effort to take over and micromanage the Internet,
bending it to the service of the globalists’ social goals. What
it says, piling euphemism on top of euphemism, is that "The
roles of the various partners (Member States, UN specialized agencies,
private sector and civil society) in ensuring smooth coordination
of the practical establishment of the information society around
the globe will also be at the heart of the Summit and its preparation"
purpose of WSIS: "to develop and foster a clear statement
of political will and a concrete plan of action for achieving
the goals of the Information Society, while fully reflecting
all the different interests at stake. The scope and nature of this
ambitious project will require partnerships with public and private
entities, and such partnerships will be actively sought in the coming
of the Information Society? I didn’t know such a diffuse and spread-out
entity could have goals. Silly me, I thought that only the individuals
participating in the Information Society buying, selling,
educating, communicating, etc. could have goals. But then,
I am not a collectivist. The very language in which the WSIS agenda
is presented betrays the collectivism driving its sponsors and participants.
And it betrays the worst economic mistake of our time, that economic
activity must be regulated by governmental entities, whether to
promote "equality" or prevent chaos or for whatever other
purpose. It will follow from this premise that if we have a global
economy we need a world government to regulate it.
participants plan to adopt a Declaration
of Principles and a Plan
of Action, existing in draft form. The main purpose is to steer
the Information Society alone lines compatible with the UN’s longstanding
development agenda based on Agenda
21, as well as with the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. From the Declaration of Principles:
"We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence
and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms,"
states the Declaration of Principles, which also reaffirms "the
principles of a democratic society, good governance (at all
levels) and the rule of law (in international as well as
national affairs), and sustainable development." This should
tell us what the powers that be in the UN and the ITU see as wrong
with the Information Society as it has developed without their oversight:
it isn’t egalitarian enough. It isn’t inclusive enough. It isn’t
nurturing and "enabling" enough. It doesn’t bridge the
"digital divide" between those nations and peoples that
have built the Information Society and those that have not. Thus
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) must be controlled
to correct all this.
always, much of the language sounds laudable, and that is the device
employed to get as many "stakeholders" on board as possible:
"We are resolute in our quest to ensure that everyone can benefit
from the opportunities that ICTs can offer…. [A]ll stakeholders
should work together to improve access to information and communication
infrastructure and technologies as well as to information and knowledge;
…" These goals include a kind of global affirmative action:
to "foster and respect cultural diversity; …" And, a few
paragraphs earlier: "women … should be an integral part of,
and key actors, in the Information Society…. To this end, we should
mainstream a gender equality perspective and use ICTs as a tool
to that end." This embodies the radical feminist idea that
men and women are completely interchangeable.
are countless references to the need to create an "enabling
environment." UN bureaucrats have become the globe’s ultimate
would-be "enablers." This is crucial in fostering a world
in which we are all interdependent, i.e., all individuals are dependent
on, and answer to, unelected committees of globalist bureaucrats.
Plan of Action picks up where the Declaration of Principles leaves
off. We are all to work together in a spirit of globalism and interdependence:
"All stakeholders have an important role to play in the Information
Society, especially through partnerships. Governments have a leading
role in developing and implementing comprehensive, forward looking
and sustainable national e-strategies. The private sector and civil
society, in dialogue with governments, have an important consultative
role to play in devising national e-strategies…. The private sector
is not only a market player but also plays a role in a wider sustainable
development context." In other words, the sustainable development
agenda trumps standard business practices. "The commitment
and involvement of civil society is equally important in creating
an equitable Information Society, and in implementing ICT-related
initiatives for development."
is a sampling of what the bureaucrats command (along with whatever
commentary seems appropriate):
at the national level a structured dialogue involving all relevant
stakeholders, including through public / private partnerships, in
devising e-strategies for the Information Society and for the exchange
of best practices." Frankly, I’m not sure what this says, but
at one time when government and big business worked together to
make policy it was called fascism; today, in UN-bureaucratese,
it’s called the public/private partnership. Further on:
of national e-strategies, including the necessary human capacity
building, should be encouraged by all countries by 2005, taking
into account different national circumstances." The forty-dollar
question here, of course, is: what is meant by human capacity
building? The document devotes a section to the subject. Among
its recommendations that are more than recommendations:
should have the necessary skills to benefit fully from the Information
Society. Therefore capacity building and ICT literacy are essential.
ICTs can contribute to achieving universal education worldwide,
through delivery of education and training of teachers, and offering
improved conditions for lifelong learning, encompassing people that
are outside the formal education process, and improving professional
with much in these two documents, this sounds good on a first reading.
But cutting through the bureaucratese, what is it really telling
us? The second sentence reads to me like a proposal to extend government
schools worldwide under a kind of globalist School-To-Work agenda.
And "encompassing people that are outside the formal education
process" sounds very much like a version of No Child Left Behind
that proposes to pull everyone in the world into the system
whether they want to be in it or not.
on down, there is much about "e-literacy skills for all, for
example by designing and offering courses for public administration";
there are proposals to "ensure that young people are equipped
with knowledge and skills to use ICTs, including the capacity to
analyze and treat information in creative and innovating ways, share
their expertise and participate fully in the Information Society";
there are calls to "develop pilot projects to demonstrate the
impact of ICT-based alternative educational delivery systems, notably
for achieving Education for All targets." There are more affirmative
action-like calls for "removing the gender barriers to ICT
education and training and promoting equal training opportunities
in ICT-related fields for women and girls."
could continue elaborating what is said about developing "human
capacity building," but you get the idea. One sees nothing
in this globalized update on the School-To-Work model of schooling
that involves education in history, economics, Constitutional literacy
or philosophy or theology the subjects that enable a person
to gain perspective on his society and whether or not it is going
in the right direction. Rather than the graduation of educated,
independent-minded human beings, schooling along the lines proposed
in this model will result in collectivized drones ready to take
their places in a the high-tech equivalent of a beehive or anthill.
If you do not have a worker-bee’s mindset, then so much the worse
little is really said about the ruling elites themselves in this
model, but there are subtle hints among some of the suggestions,
and establish an international legal framework on information and
communication security under the auspices of UN system to prevent
illegal use of ICTs." Sounds very much like UN-sponsored world
government to me in the absence of a clear and different
definition of the sort of entity that could create and enforce an
"international legal framework" that would "prevent
illegal use of ICTs."
the Information Society, Intellectual Property Protection should
be construed in a way not to deepen the Digital Divide, taking into
account the need to universalize access for all. Intellectual Property
Protection can and should be interpreted in a manner supportive
to State’s rights to protect public policies, in particular, to
promote access to the Information Society." In other words,
under this system there will be no exclusive and unqualified private
property rights, which of course is the point of pulling the private
sector into all these partnerships with governmental and globalist
the systematic dissemination of information using ICTs on agriculture,
animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and food, in order to provide
ready access to comprehensive, up-to-date and detailed knowledge
and information, particularly in rural areas." Even, I suppose,
if the people directly involved in these activities are not using
ICTs and doing just fine without them. Throughout both documents
is the wild and unsupported assumption that information technology
is for everybody, and can be incorporated willy-nilly into every
human activity. This is the view that human beings are blank slates
at birth, to be molded, shaped and have their life stories laid
out for them by social engineers who somehow know what is best for
is not that these social goals are all bad. Of course, it would
be very nice to see third world peoples lifted or lift themselves
out of poverty. But the collectivist and micro-managerial
approach taken here cannot succeed. It can only drain the resources
of those countries (especially the United States) that have embraced
information technology. Eventually, the maze of rules and regulations,
along with the global tax that would doubtless be instituted to
fund the globalist system, will stifle new developments. We will
then see the progress achieved through the Information Revolution
halt and then begin to reverse!
UN is proposing to hijack the Information Revolution to service
a collectivist model of world order. They have no way to achieve
their goals without massive bureaucratic controls on information
and communication technology controls put in place at the
top and encircling the lives of every user. This means more, not
less, centralization, and at a level that would further erode national
sovereignty, not to mention privacy and private property. It cannot
be done without instituting global government long the dream
of promoters of a New
Internet has evolved into a global facility available to the public,
and its governance should constitute a core issue of the Information
Society agenda," the Declaration of Principles reads. "The
international management of the Internet should be multilateral,
transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments,
the private sector, civil society and international organizations.
It should ensure an equitable distribution of resources, facilitate
access for all and ensure a stable and secure functioning of the
Internet, taking into account multilingualism."
the Plan of Action picks up where the Declaration of Principles
leaves off. In fact, the Plan of Action drops the verbal equivalent
of a nuke on the idea of a free and unregulated Internet:
ask the Secretary General of the United Nations to set up a working
group in Internet governance, in an open and inclusive process that
ensures a mechanism for the full and active participation of governments,
the private sector and civil society from both developing and developed
countries, involving relevant intergovernmental and international
organizations and forums, to investigate and make proposals for
action, as appropriate, on the governance of Internet by 2005.
The group should, inter alia, (i) develop a working definition of
Internet governance; (ii) identify the public policy issues that
are relevant to Internet governance; (iii) develop a common understanding
of the respective roles and responsibilities of governments, existing
intergovernmental and international organizations and other forums
as well as the private sector and civil society from both developing
and developed countries; (iv) prepare a report on the results of
this activity to be presented for consideration and appropriate
action for the second phase of WSIS in Tunis in 2005" (emphasis
mine). Following is a proposal for the internationalization of the
management and supervision of country code top-level domain names,
a process currently in the hands of an American organization given
that most of the computer power that drives the Internet and World
Wide Web is based in the United States.
this is not a recipe for a power grab of major proportions, after
which there would be no exclusive rights for any Internet or Web
user, I don’t know what would be. It all depends on the language.
What, after all, do phrases like "ensure a stable and secure
functioning of the Internet" boil down to? Suppose a bureaucrat
decides that cantankerous news and commentary sites like LewRockwell.com,
by virtue of their incessant annoying criticisms of centralized
government in all its manifestations, fail to "ensure a stable
and secure functioning of the Internet." Suppose, thinking
of the reference to "multilingualism," the criticism is
of our failure to write and publish articles in, say, Spanish. Or
Arabic, for that matter. What then? We could find ourselves mired
in such a quagmire of regulations that normal functioning becomes
impossible as opposed to a direct attack.
on the other hand, we could all be charged by globalist bureaucrats
with "hate speech," that amorphous and mostly undefined
stepchild of political correctness that is already a crime punishable
by imprisonment in some countries with full UN approval.
documents are permeated with references to the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Again, much of the language there looks
good on a superficial reading. It includes such things as "Everyone
has the right to life, liberty and security of person" (Article
3), "Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as
in association with others" (Article 17); "Everyone has
the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion …"
(Article 18); "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion
and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without
interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media and regardless of frontiers" (Article 19).
the third clause in Article 29 states: "These rights and freedoms
may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles
of the United Nations." Such escape clauses are the stuff of
potential tyranny. What, precisely, are these "purposes and
principles." If they are the eventual establishing of world
government, then all the above rights are essentially voided if
used to block the efforts and progress toward world government.
Which could eventually make free speech on the Internet including
articles like this one! criminal offenses in the global village.
turns on how the bureaucratese is interpreted. With an educational
system producing only technicians and more bureaucrats, there will
be no one with the critical thinking skills necessary to challenge
the interpretations of the bureaucratic overseers.
one thing we can be sure: the latter will work steadily to increase
their power. They have discovered a new set of tools, one that has
immeasurably enriched all its participants: information and communications
technology. This technology has developed without a center and without
officially-approved social goals, which is why freedom-oriented
sites can co-exist on it with communist sites (or with the UN’s
site). It has been identified as something to be used. The imposition
of the new social goals to be laid on top of the information revolution
is to done piecemeal, but should be well on its way by the second
WSIS Summit, scheduled for November 16–18, 2005, in Tunis, Tunisia.
centralize this technology and control all its players will not
erase the so-called digital divide. It will only bog down the efforts
at innovation that alone will improve the technology and make it
more user-friendly. It will not lift those on the wrong side of
the digital divide out of poverty but make their overall situations
worse while turning the Information Revolution dynamic in
this country into something with about as much efficiency as the
U.S. Postal Service and roughly the same capacity for education
as your average government school.
December 15, 2003
Yates [send him mail]
Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of Civil
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
(1994). He is currently at work on three books: In
Defense of Logic,
a philosophical treatise; Skywatcher’s
a science fiction novel, and This
Is Not the Country I Grew Up In,
a collection of past articles from LewRockwell.com and other
sources. He is an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute,
and next January will be joining the adjunct faculty of Limestone
College. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com