There is an effort within the United Nations – led by Russia, China and a coalition of developing nations with authoritarian regimes — to control the Internet, and 2012 may be a crucial year for opposition to such a shift, a key U.S. overseer warned Thursday.

Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, told the Federal Communications Bar Association that “scores of countries, including China, Russia and India, are pushing hard for international regulation of Internet governance.”

In December 2012, the International Telecommunications Union, a U.N. agency, will host a meeting in Dubai to renegotiate a treaty signed in 1988. That treaty was responsible for what McDowell calls a “dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications,” which set about “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.” The Dubai meeting could conclude with an agreement to consolidate authority over the Internet under the ITU.

“While we have been focused on other important matters here in the U.S., the effort to radically reverse the long-standing international consensus to keep governments from regulating core functions of the Internet’s ecosystem has been gaining momentum,” McDowell warned.

Continue reading →