You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see something sinister in the ITU. The organization, which met most recently in Dubai, has the ear of dictatorial regimes around the world who would like nothing more than to censor the Internet to protect their political power. Nations including the US and UK walked out of the meeting to approve a new UN telecom treaty. The treaty was approved, but the US and other nations took a stand against it.
Google said in a statement that the ITU demonstrated that many nations want to regulate and control the Internet. Andrew McLaughlin, a former technology officer in the Obama administration said that the ITU is full of “soft corruption” and that the organization should be “killed off in its current form”, according to the Wall Street Journal. He pointed out that the organization is the “chosen vehicle” for authoritarian regimes in nations such as Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Iran and said that he hopes the Obama administration will take an opportunity to “kneecap” and organization that he described as “useless, inimical, bloated, bureaucratic and corrupt.”
According to critics, the authoritarian regimes around the world would certainly take advantage of any treaties that would give them the ability to monitor emails, to block networks and to tax foreign sites that they didn’t find, as stated in the WSJ article. The US and the UK leaving the negotiations certain took some of wind out of the sails of governments that were hoping to gain more control via a UN telecommunications treaty.
Meanwhile, in Washington, a rare moment of agreement between the dominant parties in the US—the Democratic Party and the Republicans—has manifested around resistance to the organization seeking to control the Internet and to censor communications.
You can add your name to the worldwide voices of objection to the ITU by visiting https://www.google.com/takeaction/. The site also gives a map showing the support that they’re getting from people all over the globe.
If you want to increase your own level of privacy, you can get a VPN service and make sure you always access USENET over an SSL-encrypted connection. This prevents anyone from being able to see the data you’re sending and receiving and is one of the ways that people in nations that censor the Internet manage to see the web as it was meant to be: free and open.