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  • Freedom of the net is safe – for the time being

    Posted by Helen on November 18th, 2005 (All posts by )

    The outcome of the Internet Governance summit in Tunis was a compromise. Luckily for all users of the net, it was a compromise that left the management and administration of the Domain Name System in the hands of ICANN. This organization, though non-profit-making, international in its board and staff, and not heavy-handed in its control, seems to have acquired the aspect of the devil incarnate as far as the opposition to “American control of the net” is concerned.

    The agreement in Tunis calls on the UN to establish an Internet Governance Forum next year. One hundred countries have signed up to the agreement and expect the Forum eventually to yield some kind of an international bureaucracy to plague the net users, whether they be big business or individual bloggers.

    So far, the forum, according to the agreement,

    “would have no oversight function and would not replace existing arrangements, mechanisms, institutions and organizations”.

    Furthermore, the new forum

    “would have no involvement in day-to-day or technical operations of the Internet”.

    This, as the Wall Street Journal Europe points out, is a victory for the American negotiators, supported as they were by certain allies, such as Canada and Australia. Britain, alas, as a member of the EU, who negotiated on our behalf, was on the side of the unholy alliance of tranzi regulators and tyrannical dictators, such as the Iranian mullahs, the Chinese party gerontocracy and, among others, President Mugabe. A truly wonderful line-up.

    The outcome of the Internet Governance summit in Tunis was a compromise. Luckily for all users of the net, it was a compromise that left the management and administration of the Domain Name System in the hands of ICANN. This organization, though non-profit-making, international in its board and staff, and not heavy-handed in its control, seems to have acquired the aspect of the devil incarnate as far as the opposition to “American control of the net” is concerned.

    The agreement in Tunis calls on the UN to establish an Internet Governance Forum next year. One hundred countries have signed up to the agreement and expect the Forum eventually to yield some kind of an international bureaucracy to plague the net users, whether they be big business or individual bloggers.

    So far, the forum, according to the agreement,

    “would have no oversight function and would not replace existing arrangements, mechanisms, institutions and organizations”.

    Furthermore, the new forum

    “would have no involvement in day-to-day or technical operations of the Internet”.

    This, as the Wall Street Journal Europe points out, is a victory for the American negotiators, supported as they were by certain allies, such as Canada and Australia. Britain, alas, as a member of the EU, who negotiated on our behalf, was on the side of the unholy alliance of tranzi regulators and tyrannical dictators, such as the Iranian mullahs, the Chinese party gerontocracy and, among others, President Mugabe. A truly wonderful line-up.

    In a sense, it was appropriate that the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) should have taken place in Tunisia, a country with a particularly bad human rights record when it comes to journalists and, indeed, users of the net.

    The aim of this Summit and, indeed, of the attempted power grab was supposed to be to overcome the digital divide between rich developed countries and others. But the digital divide, as we know, is between countries where people can use the internet freely and those where the government controls its use and punishes those who try to step outside that control. By a strange coincidence the impetus to move control of the internet from the USA to the UN came from the latter governments and has been, shamefully, supported by the EU, which speaks on Britain’s behalf.

    According to the ISN Security Watch:

    “The New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused the Tunisian government of detaining critical online writers and blocking websites that publish reports of human rights abuses in the country.

    The group stressed that Tunisia had made some progress in increasing access to the internet over the past few years, lifting bans on some websites, but that it continued to flout its national and international legal commitments to free expression, the right to access information, and the right to privacy by censoring the internet. The group said the government was still imprisoning writers for expressing their views online, and imposing undue regulations on its Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and internet cafés.”

    Entirely the right country in which the discussion about the digital divide should be taking place.

    Interestingly, the Summit was opened by the President of Switzerland, who made the following apposite comments:

    “It is, quite frankly, unacceptable for the United Nations to continue to include among its members states which imprison citizens for the sole reason that they have criticized their government on the Internet or in the media.”

    How sad. Because, of course, we have to accept that state of affairs and it is that very United Nations that is claiming the right to take over and run the internet (as well as, if not better than the way they ran the oil-for-food programme).

    While this was going on, the Tunisian police prevented a meeting of the Tunisian Civil Society summit and its spokesman’s attempt to describe the situation to ISN Security Watch by telephone was interrupted.

    And just to demonstrate quite definitively what that digital divide is about

    “Tests conducted between 2.30pm and 4.30pm using the 3S Global Net ISP found that the French and Arabic press releases for Human Rights Watch’s latest report on internet freedom in the Middle East were also blocked in Tunis.

    Users trying to access these pages received a page disguised to look like a French-language Microsoft Internet Explorer error page that read “Impossible de trouver la page” (“Impossible to find the page”).

    The results were consistent with the blocking behaviour exhibited in previous tests documented in a Human Rights Watch’s report.”

    These are the people who are demanding that the terrible American “control” of the internet should cease and they are the ones with whom we, in Europe, line ourselves up.

    So, what will the new forum be doing, assuming it will get past the inevitable international squabbles and behind-the-scene negotiations?

    The WSJE expresses the very sensible opinion:

    “As little as possible, one would hope. It would be most useful as a means of co-ordinating efforts to address such cyber crimes as e-mail fraud (also known as “phishing”) and cyber annoyances like spam.”

    As the forum will be under UN auspices, it seems unlikely that there will ever be a remotely useful activity along the lines outlined above.

    “Beyond that, it’s difficult to see how the forum differs significantly from ICANN’s existing Governmental Advisory Committee other than operating under the UN’s auspices. In this some participants – notably, the European Union – are inclined to see the birth of an entity that will evolve into ICANN’s successor.

    Others, led by the US, are confident that a forum envisioned in Tunis as “lightweight and decentralized” will remain so. Businesses and other parties interested in a red-tape-free Internet must be vigilant to prevent the scenario preferred by Europeans from becoming reality.”

    Indeed so. According to Deutsche Welle

    “The agreement would lead to “further internationalization of Internet governance, and enhanced intergovernmental cooperation to this end,” wrote the European Union in a statement.

    “In the short term, US oversight is not immediately challenged,” an EU source told Reuters. “But in the long term they are under obligation to negotiate with all the states about the future and evolution of Internet governance.””

    In other words, they have not given up. Deutsche Welle itself snarls about “United States’ single-handed control over the private body known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)”. Curiously, they omit to mention that no less a person than SecGen Kofi Annan, a man usually quoted with reverence by the European media, described the present arrangements as performing “fairly and adequately”.

    And what has that to do with anything? What matters is that it should not be in American or more or less American hands. The Hamburger Abendblatt put it fatuously but threateningly:

    “A world wide web should also be in the world’s control — not the only world power. The decision of what really happens in the Internet continues to be made by ICANN. It won’t be long before the problem is once again on the agenda of a world summit.”

    Well, we have all been warned. As abolitionist, orator and journalist Wendell Philips said: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” And that was before the United Nations or the European Union had even been heard of.

    Cross-posted from EUReferendum and Albion’s Seedlings.

     

    33 Responses to “Freedom of the net is safe – for the time being”

    1. James R. Rummel Says:

      This, as the Wall Street Journal Europe points out, is a victory for the American negotiators,…

      I don’t really agree. This summit is actually seen by some as being a legitimate discussion of the future of the Internet. Near as I can tell it’s a complete waste of time.

      We’re not going to give up control of the Internet to any international body until the entire world adopts our 1st Amendment. Snarky op-eds in foreign newspapers aren’t going to change our mind.

      What is the purpose of this summit, exactly? Did the delegates just want to get out of the office for a few days and get a free trip to Tunis? (HA!) Or are they divorced from reality that they think they could accomplish something concrete?

      James

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      It’s this simple:

      Eurocrats to US: Give up control of ICANN to the UN (where we, the EU, have more votes than you) or else!!

      US: Or else what?

      EU: WE will set up our own domain naming system and servers!

      I say go for it. Knock yourselves out. It goes without saying that I have no faith in a poisonous cocktail of petty dictators and eurocrats. And if Europeans continue to build tyanny upon tyranny for themselves, I won’t lift a finger or spend a dime to dissuade them. They aren’t worth it. May they rot in a hell of their own construction.

    3. Solipson Says:

      well, well, the net is a chaotic, unruly and unpredictable place. this can obviously not be left to such an unruly, chaotic and unpredictable organisation like the UN:-)
      Rule 1: Americans know better
      Rule 2: Rule 1 applies
      Rule 3: If Rule 2 doesn’t apply, revert to Rule 1
      Because remember: My assete bubble is bigger than yours.

    4. Helen Says:

      The problem with the UN is not that it is unruly or unpredictable. It is all too predictable as its track-record shows. It is seriously corrupt and wants everything run by transnational bureaucrats. Then there is the small problem of the number of member states who are run by oppressive, bloodthirsty kleptocrats and who will all want a say in the way the net should be run.

      But the pressure will be there, so I think it is worth following the saga rather than dismissing all pretensions as being laughable.

    5. Robin Goodfellow Says:

      Sometimes I imagine that it might be possible, and even worthwhile, to create some sort of under-network that was hosted covertly on worm infected machines (the point of the worm being to spread the under-network) which would be decentralized, individually private (through cryptography / steganography), and robust against any form of regulation or restriction. It might be tricky to make it fully decentralized and robust enough to be safe from almost all sorts of regulation but I think it could be done (with some kind of trust based system, for example). It’s an interesting thought experiment, at least.

    6. Solipson Says:

      Helen,
      you are right with your last sentence, the lid is off and from now on it will be a long rearguard action for the ICANN to cede control to where it belongs, the majority of the users.
      By the way, I think UN rule will be a very effective way of letting the dissidents in kleptocratically run countries to have a say. The kleptocrats will not be able to influence the way the net will be run, but the dissidents will.

    7. Helen Says:

      Sure, Solipson, the dissidents are going to have a great deal a lot of say. Like they do now in all those countries. The only way they can get any information out, with great difficulty, is because te net is not controlled by the kleptocrats, whether national ones or UN ones. On the other hand, I rather suspect you are being heavily ironic in your comments.

    8. Solipson Says:

      Helen,
      I am not ironic, at least not in the comment to your post. Am an unabashed Euro-federalist and great admirer of the UN idea. I agree the UN currently is an utterly corrupt and inefficient place, so is Brussels (and Washington). However, every project of this kind has this phase ( and let’s not forget, the current UN mess is a product of the cold war)
      Still, the net is too important to leave it to one country, especially with most the world not trusting the Americans. This will just inhibit progress.
      Make the dictators accountable. The Chinese are only able to supress information on the internet, because they do not particpate in running it. If they do, the free world, which is the large majority, will overrule them.
      easy as a mac.

    9. lindenen Says:

      ” I agree the UN currently is an utterly corrupt and inefficient place, so is Brussels (and Washington). “

      There is a dig difference between Washington and Brussels and the UN: elections and accountability. Two things completely lacking at the UN and Brussels.

      “Am an unabashed Euro-federalist and great admirer of the UN idea.”

      And I believe the EU is Big Brother incarnate and is half way to becoming the future of fascism in Europe.

      “If they do, the free world, which is the large majority, will overrule them.”

      Except the free world isn’t the majority. It’s most definitely a minority.

    10. lindenen Says:

      “Still, the net is too important to leave it to one country, especially with most the world not trusting the Americans. This will just inhibit progress.”

      This is so dumb. I’m just flabbergasted. I don’t mean to be rude but I feel like what you really said is “The best way to stop myself from being stabbed through the eye with a knife is to stab myself in the eye!”

      The feeding and clothing of children is incredibly important to society and yet we leave it to their parents. We must internationalise control of the feeding and clothing of children because children are the future! It’s too important to leave to parents!

      I also think it’s amazing that so many seem to think they have the right to take away from someone else what they didn’t create. Talk about arrogance. Hey, that’s a nice painting you’ve made! It shouldn’t belong to you.

    11. Ginny Says:

      Take the dictators accountable. The Chinese are only able to supress information on the internet, because they do not particpate in running it. And what world is this in?
      What a touching vision, if dictators are given more power they will be more open.

    12. James R. Rummel Says:

      Make the dictators accountable.

      Like the US did with Saddam?

      After all, that’s the only way to make a dictator accountable. Send in the Marines, winkle him out of the empty septic tank where he hides, and put him on trial. And you have to do it while the UN and the EU tries to make you stop.

      And here we thought you were being serious when you said you were “an unabashed Euro-federalist and great admirer of the UN idea.”

      James

    13. Jim Bennett Says:

      ( and let’s not forget, the current UN mess is a product of the cold war)

      No, the previous UN mess was the result of the Cold War, specifically the idea that we could have something like the USSR and its client regimes in the organization and have it work.

      The current UN mess is the result of the idea that we could have something like Congo or Myanmar and similar regimes in the organization and have it work.

    14. Sam Says:

      As Michael Hiteshew alludes to, ICANN’s management of the domain name system is a bit overblown in many accounts.

      What I’ve been worried about is all this is really a ruse to gain control over IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, an organization within ICANN which manages IP addresses. You don’t have an IP address, you aren’t on the Internet. If IANA, say, reassigns the IP addresses assigned to Taiwan to China, either all backbone providers reroute packets and Taiwan drops off the face of the Earth, err… Internet, or mass chaos reigns on the Internet…

    15. Solipson Says:

      Lindenen, I am terribly sorry to forgot Rule 1:…. :-)
      I am so dumb that I forgot that computers were invented by the Germans, the World Wide Web was developed by a Brit in Geneva (I’m not an IT person, but I think a lot of what we talk about here is not DARPA-net but WWW :-)
      In addition, the property I like most about the web is that it does not belong to anybody. Not even the Yanks. By the way, let’s not forget, the world doesn’t need America, but America does need the world. Who else than the Asian cleptocrats and EU fascists should finance the US? :-)
      Talking about the EU fascists. May I enlighten the dear readers with the fact that it consists, apart from the brownshirts, of three main bodies. The so-called Council, which consists of the elected representatives of each EU member country. It is the one and only decision-making body. Like the Senate and the House. The Executive branch is known as the EU Commission, it is nominated by the, attention please: democratically elected Council. Get it? Something like the US Administration. Allright, then let’s move on to the EU Parliament. The EU population directly elects it. Doesn’t have a lot to say, but increasingly more. Which is a good thing. The EU as it stands is a terribly wasteful institution, tons of money for pork-barrel politics, problems in accountability, scandals, much like the US governance structure.
      To sum it up, the EU is a mess but democratically controlled. And I cannot see the brownshirts somehow:-)
      It took the US a couple of decades to get the nation united, we are halfway there. Give us another 50 years and it’ll be done.
      Talking about the accountability of dictators. (And I will not start discussing the Iraq war) Either you beat them up and make them accountable in this way. Like the US did with Saddam. Or they are too big to get beaten up, like China. Then you have to live with them and wrestle them down slowly. And make them accountable, which is in today’s world possible. This is the difference to the Soviet Union. They were too big to get beaten up, but they didn’t give a damn about the outside world. So the rest of the world had no leverage. Today the world has a lot of leverage with China. If China doesn’t grow by 10% for the next couple of decades, the regime has a problem, a really big one. Called revolution. Therefore the free world has leverage. A lot. Cause they need the Americans to buy their products and the Europeans to provide them with technology.
      Last but not least, a reminder to the UN bashers. The UN was a US invention. And was used to reign in the USSR during the cold war. And has not changed structurally since it was founded.

    16. James R. Rummel Says:

      This is the difference to the Soviet Union. They were too big to get beaten up, but they didn’t give a damn about the outside world. So the rest of the world had no leverage.

      Last time I checked, the USSR crashed because thier economy was ruined trying to keep up with US defense spending. Seems to invalidate your position.

      Today the world has a lot of leverage with China.

      Yeah, that’s why they keep saying that war with the US is inevitable. ‘Cause we have leverage.

      Cause they need the Americans to buy their products and the Europeans to provide them with technology.

      If you mean the Chinese rely on the Europeans to illegally sell them military tech for the coming war with the US, then you’re right.

      So how come you think that we have leverage with China when we can’t get the Europeans to stick to their agreements? UN Oil for Food scandel, anyone?

      James

    17. Sandy P Says:

      You can softsoap it anyway you want, Solipson, the EUSSR is not going to work.

      As someone pointed out, I think on EU Referendum, the euros are going to require all planes which fly to Europe to be equipped w/Galileo and if they’re not, fine them.

      It was suggested we charge for ICANN.

    18. Lex Says:

      Let’s make it real simple. An organization which is based in the USA currently has a major degree of control over the Net. The Net has been good for the economy of the USA. The Net has been good as a vehicle of free expression in the USA and the world. There is no reason whatsoeverthat the United States should give any degree of control to its professed enemies — France, the UN, etc. — on something that is important to our economy and society. Period. This is about national self-interest on the part of the USA and efforts to damage our interests on the part of the rest of many foreigners. If I were them, I’d do the same thing — try to talk the USA into sacrificing an advantage it possesses. We would be stupid to do it. We should act accordingly. Some blunt talk from Mr. Bush would be nice, but that is too much to ask for.

    19. Ginny Says:

      Financially and culturally it is an example of the free markets of speech, press and economics in action. No wonder it needs controlling. It would seem a dangerous example of these forces?

    20. ArtD0dger Says:

      An organization which is based in the USA currently has a major degree of control over the Net.

      Lex, I agree with your sentiment, but I fear that this formulation hurts us by framing the debate in their terms. My understanding is that the role of ICANN is far more along the lines of administrivia than “control.” It would become a control mechanism if its services were restricted by bureaucracy and rent allotment, but that is the scenario we are trying to prevent.

      The recurring ploy of the incremental authoritarians is to say “Someone needs to be in charge of fill-in-the-blank, so I nominate so-and-so.” It is a fool’s game to resist this trend by saying “not your so-and-so, we want our so-and-so,” which is what we have done here. The proper response is “Nobody should have that authority.”

      As long as the U.S. is “in control of the internet,” they will pick at it like an open sore. We need to develop the narrative that nobody is or should be in control. Or at least embrace the nuclear option and flesh out the not-so-dire consequences of having multiple sovereign intranets rather that one transnational commons.

      To the extent that there really are centralized points-of-failure like root domain servers remaining in the technical workings of the net, we should be trying to figure out how to eliminate them and widely distribute their functionality. If there is a knob anywhere that controls the internet, some bastard will eventually figure out how to turn it.

    21. Helen Says:

      Right Solipson, you can maunder on about the joys of transnational government but get your facts right about the EU.

      The sole legislative initiative rests with the Commission, whose members are appointed. This is written into the treaties. Who they are appointed by is irrelevant, they are appointed and are completely unaccountable to anybody.

      The Council of Ministers is, indeed, made up of ministers from the member states but their decisions are not accountable to their own legislatures. Apart from anything else, the volume of legislation is too large for the various parliaments to keep track of them. The legislation is thus done by various negotiations behind closed doors, with no records, no transcripts, no voting records.

      The legislation may or may not go to the European Parliament (most of it is in the form of Regulations that are directly applicable and are not discussed in the EP). I say discussed because these are not debates in the real sense of the word, as anyone who has ever listened to them would know. In any case, the real decisions for the EP are taken in the committees and it is only those amendments that go to the plenary session. The voting takes place well after the “debates” had taken place and consist of a long queueue of votes that have to go through without a pause in the space of about an hour and a half. If there are divisions between the Council and the Parliament the legislation goes back to the Commission that decides.

      National parliaments, who are elected and are accountable to the electorate have no right to throw European legislation out. This was decided by the ECJ back in the sixties and is written into the European Communities legislation of the countries that joined since then.

      EU legislation unrolls in five and ten year plans that carry on regardless of elections, changes of governments or, even, changes of balance in the European Parliament. In fact, legislation does not dies because there is a new Commission or a new lot of MEPs, as it would do in any democratic system. It just carries on.

      This is a very general outline but if you think that is democratic accountability, you probably do not understand the meaning of those words. Or, possibly, you do not really know how the EU works.

    22. Solipson Says:

      Helen,
      thank you for your detailed explanation of the supposed workings of the EU. Next time please separate facts from fiction.
      James,
      as I said the USSR was outspent by the US, not beaten up. And no I did not mean military hardware, I mean proper technology. The Chinese get their military secrets from the DOE don’t they:-)
      Sandy,
      no comment, you’re not in my league
      ArtD0dger
      great comment, and let’s get back to the basic point of this discussion.

    23. A Scott Crawford Says:

      Robin,

      I kept a partition open for just such a contingency, but then hit a patch of very nasty (if effective) hackery out of a benelux corporate server that set off a Brit trojan (timeo Britannicuos et dona ferentes). The fact that I was in Brazil made it all the more fascinating, as both were very aggressive… maybe four or five minutes to kick me off even cold, factory reinstalls. I was very impressed, but annoyed at the timing (heaven knows what the Brazilians thought of it).

      The interesting part is that the benelux nasty was feeding to and from RIPE (the European managed part of IANA) reserved addresses that were supposed to go to a civilian airport, yet somehow were busy walking right over a lightly protected Brazilian (hotel type) ISP (&etc). As I was doing a friendly technical review on a product for a Brazilian media startup, it was pure accident that I stumbled into the benelux group trying to pirate their licensed content (the legit license holder is from their own Country!).

      That’s my anecdote as to why the the US should tell the UN and EUrocrats to get real. Not only did both bureaucracies have their manicured fingers all over the Oil for Food slush funds, they gormlessly abused the good faith of the Californians by letting (heh) benelux pirates hijack civil IP addresses. And if I recall correctly, Paris has already censored web content and trading. Sure, they’ll say, “we don’t want Frenchmen buying Nazi armbands and such”, but censoring the thing just makes it more valuable to those who want it. Nor is censoring web access to foreign content other than a slippery slope for a Government to start down.

      Additionally, RIPE manages the central Asian and part of the middle easts IP addressing. So if the EUros are serious about handing over control of IP assignations to a “world body”, why don’t they just have RIPE pass the non-EU addresses over to the sub-regions or UN directly. I doubt that IANA would object to the EU leading by example and showing the US how well meaning international citizens behave. If the Eurocrats are sincere, there’s no reason to delay, and were RIPE to actually cut off it’s non-EU sub-regions and hand them over to the UN BEFORE the scheduled meeting, they’d avoid being dismissed out of hand by the US.

      Otherwise, it’d be difficult not to suspect that this whole anti-US internet PR push is merely a cynical ploy to redirect all that EU domestic anger over to the US and Iraq.

    24. Jonathan Says:

      Helen,
      thank you for your detailed explanation of the supposed workings of the EU. Next time please separate facts from fiction.

      I take it you are unable to explain why you think Helen is mistaken.

      [. . .]

      Sandy,
      no comment, you’re not in my league

      (See my comment above.)

    25. Solipson Says:

      Jonathan,
      as you assume that I am unable to explain things, I will not. This is as well the main flaw in Helens reasoning. She repeated what I said about the basic structure of the EU and then assumed, that because of the flaws that she described, the system is not democratic. I said it is flawed but not broken, Helen said it has to be broken.
      By the way, the EU is not meant to be perfect. It is one big work in progress, probably the biggest ever. Stretching decades, perhaps hundreds of years.

    26. Jonathan Says:

      Solipson, if you want people to consider your position it helps if you explain why you think your critics are mistaken. This you have avoided doing, which may explain why most of the critics have given up on having a discussion with you. Your pseudonym is well chosen.

    27. lindenen Says:

      “By the way, let’s not forget, the world doesn’t need America, but America does need the world.”

      hahaha Honey, it’s mutual. Who do you think buys most the crap the world makes? Don’t delude yourself.

      Also, last time I checked Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity and the Pentagon was more than a little involved. Even if I put together a product building on knowledge and technology devised by people in many different countries, I still own the blooming product.

    28. Anonymous Says:

      You are going to have to do a little more to explain your position than slag off Helen, who is a respected and knowledgeable writer in this field and knows what she’s talking about. You appear to be fixated on a grand socialist dream, which is what the rest of us are hoping to bludgeon to death. Helen is correct when she says it has to be broken. Whatever it takes to shatter it, that is what has to be done.

      Whether you like it or not, Americans developed the internet and we are all free to use it. The EU sees a control opportunity. Ever-tightening screws.

      The EU is the most monstrous project ever undertaken on earth. You say it is wrong to state that it is not democratic. Anyone capable of writing a lie of this magnitude missed his calling when the USSR was still, vaguely, grotesquely, among the cwic.

    29. Verity Says:

      That was me above. I keep forgetting …

    30. Solipson Says:

      ok, ok, ok, i accept that I can be called maundering dumb socialist here for having a different opinion, but that I cannot refuse to answer to somebody who calls the region I was born, raised and live in “EUSSR”.
      I came here because the great people your blog refers to have influenced my life a lot. I have studied a Hayek’s last faculty, have spent a year writing my thesis about Coase. I thought that I could meet a couple of like-minded people here and discuss things.
      What I have found instead is a bunch of triumphalists, who are only interested in padding themselves on the back. And slag off everything else.
      I have spent the last ten years in the US and the UK. One of the main reasons I went back to Europe is this growing autistic reflex of calling everything “socialist” that people don’t agree with.
      Get real Boyz, you’re sitting in a house of cards, if the Chinese decide to stop giving you money, you’re in for a little depression. No, not a recession.
      And a couple of facts: It is easier, to sell something from Germany to the UK, than from Illinois to California. If you know what I mean.
      Not? Ok.
      Our economy is bigger than yours. By 20%. We buy more from the rest of the world than you and we sell even more. That is called a positive trade balance. Yes. These socialist things exist :-)
      Our public debt is lower than yours.
      Talk about superior US technology? Hmm, yeah, ahemm, Cars? Aeroplanes? Chips? Mobile Phones? Computers?
      Don’t get me wrong, I am exagerating. I love the US, really admire your country, am greately influenced by a lot of great American thinkers.
      Allright, you’ve slagged me off, I ranted about you.
      Peace?

    31. SparcVark Says:

      I think it’s a little bit insane for anyone to assume that the US will cede control of the root servers to anyone. Why would any country take an action that goes so much against their own self-interest? Certainly I don’t see the EU, or any member state thereof, surrendering a similar advantage.

    32. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      What I have found instead is a bunch of triumphalists, who are only interested in padding themselves on the back. And slag off everything else.

      “Whoa! Hold yer horses there pardner”, as we cowboys like to say. You came in here attacking the US. That we then defend ourselves is triumphalism? Where did you learn such doublespeak? Do you think in doublespeak?

      One of the main reasons I went back to Europe is this growing autistic reflex of calling everything “socialist” that people don’t agree with.

      Is that because you keep proposing socialist ideas?

      …if the Chinese decide to stop giving you money, you’re in for a little depression.

      The Chinese are giving us money??

      And a couple of facts: It is easier, to sell something from Germany to the UK, than from Illinois to California. If you know what I mean.
      Not? Ok.

      Not. No explanation. No figures or facts. Just an assertion. Accept it.

      Our economy is bigger than yours. By 20%. We buy more from the rest of the world than you and we sell even more. That is called a positive trade balance. Our public debt is lower than yours. Talk about superior US technology? Hmm, yeah, ahemm

      Do I detect triumphalism? Padding yourself on the back? Why do Europeans constantly accuse others of those things of which they are most guilty? What prompted this attack of yours? Was there something specific you actually wanted to discuss? ICANN maybe?

      To bring this discussion back on track, can you make a persuasive argument for why the USA, with the strongest free speech and free press laws in the world, should give control of a major communication medium to the UN? Has France experienced political interference in its’ internet access as a result of its’ political stands against the US? France is practically a declared enemy of the US, as is Syria, as is Iran. Have any of these countries been blocked? They haven’t? Imagine that. Are you simply angry that Europe doesn’t control it? Can you be so willfully blinded by your ideals of how the world “should” run that you actually trust the UN with possibly the single most important development in person to person, unfiltered communication since the printing press?

      PS: Everyone here understands Europe’s contributions to the modern world. The industrial revolution started in the UK. The Enlightenment and Renaissance were born in Europe. That does not, however, mean that every great new idea born in Europe is beyond debate or above criticism, much as some Europeans, like you apparently, believe. That great tyrannies of the modern world were also born in Europe, the worst outposts of which, like Marxist-Lenninist-Stalinist North Korea, have yet to be overthrown.

      One final note. As long as you’re expanding your reading list consider Of Paradise and Power . Like Hayek, Kagan is brief and insightful.

    33. Solipson Says:

      Michael,
      had a look at the Amazon excerpt and it sounds really interesting. And I fully agree with the excerpt content. The description sums up pretty much the situation. The key fact is the historical development of the different attitudes to war etc. Thanks for that, have ordered it.
      With regards to your opening statements, I said in my post that I was ranting. I did not come in here to attack the US. Not at all. I made fun of some positions, declared my sympathy for the EU and it went downhill from that point onwards:-)
      To repeat my main issue, I am of the opinion that the lid is off the question whether the US should keep control of ICANN or not. In the end it doesn’t matter whether I or you or anybody else thinks it is right or wrong. Up until now it wasn’t a discussion and everybody was happy about the situation. Now, the politics have started and they will not stop until something has changed. Or, to use Coases theories, the costs of supervising the internet will increase in the current structure until a new structure has been found which operates at lower costs.
      Regarding the Chinese, I am just repeating the position of most of the economists I know, the fact that the Asians in general and the Chinese in particular are financing the US current account deficit. On the one hand they have to, as not buying Treasuries with all the greenbacks Wal Mart et al is providing them with, would mean selling dollars. This in turn would lead to their currency appreciating, which they cannot afford to do, as it would threaten their exports and therefore growth. On the other hand they cannot continue increasing their stock by hundreds of billions of dollars each year forever. All of this means that right now the US and China are in a mutual beneficial relationship. But even a slight change in Chinese or US politics could change that. The Chinese moving more of their reserves into Euros. One big buyer of Treasuries gone and interest rates going up. (They have announced this, but not enacted yet) A power struggle in Beijing, Problems in Taiwan, and, and , and.
      The US is in this respect in not the best position, because the equation: I buy your merchandise and you buy my Treasuries, could be cut off centrally and therefore effectively from their side, but not from the US as the merchandising buying private sector could not decide to stop buying Chinese products (because a lot have integrated operations there). The effect: The US has to pay more for federal debt, interest rates go up, the housing and other asset bubbles deflate, people are left with a lot of negative equity in their assets, this forces them to reduce consumer spending.
      And here comes the double whammy, the Chinese currency goes up, dollar goes down, Exports from China become more expensive and the earnings of many US companies go down as they rely a lot on products from their operations in China. I don’t think it will ever happen, but you never know. I hope this was detailed enough:-)