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Bruce Sterling says: Marry the UN and the Net

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the you-may-now-kiss-the-bride dept.

The Internet 343

An anonymous reader writes "SF writer Bruce Sterling is guest-posting on the global-eco-tech blog Worldchanging today and thinks we ought to marry the Internet and the United Nations. 'The UN has cumbersome rules, no popular participation, and can't get anything useful done about the darkly rising tide of stateless terror and military adventurism. The UN was invented to "unite nations" rather than people. The Internet unites people, but it's politically illegitimate. Vigilante lawfare outfits like RIAA and MPAA can torment users and ISPs at will. The dominant OS is a hole-riddled monopoly. Its business models collapsed in a welter of stock-kiting corruption. The Net is a lawless mess of cross-border spam and fraud. Logically, there ought to be some inventive way to cross-breed the grass-rootsy cheapness, energy and immediacy of the Net with the magisterial though cumbersome, crotchety, crooked and opaque United Nations.' It's obviously part tongue in cheek, but it does make you think."

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weee (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418463)

first...and drunk!!!

More leftist bullshit... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418466)

...from the Sons of Capitalists Rich Kid College Students in hickass western Michigan.

Re:More leftist bullshit... (0, Flamebait)

nickpdx (802566) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418473)

Nice capitalization, plus it makes a whole lot of sense too...

Re:More leftist bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418495)

It's more ambidextrious that leftist... still bullshit though.

Sure... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418467)

That'd be a good way to give more power to scientologists, moonists, environmentalists, etc... I think I'm gonna puke.

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418585)

Don't forget Alex Chiu [alexchiu.com] .

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418793)

Mod Parent Funny! This is the best site I've seen in days. It makes Slashdot look as entertaining as a book on Organic Chemistry!

One liner (-1, Redundant)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418469)

And what exactly can the UN do that the rest of the world isn't for the Internet?

Re:One liner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418800)

Provide a forum where you are have experience in trying to get a whole bunch of disparate boobs to agree on something? More funding? More representation by countries who are currently forced in to accepting a Mostly-English Net, thus preventing their contributions? Enshrining Open Source principles in stone? Getting together to formulate a worldwide legally accepted GPL-type standard? Most Important: A new way to spread Anti-Bush jokes

Another One liner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418829)

He who posts useless things just to be first should check his sentence before he posts.

Indeed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418479)

but it does make you think.

It makes me think Mr. Sterling may need his medication checked.

Re:Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418533)

" but it does make you think.

It makes me think Mr. Sterling may need his medication checked.
"

Typically when people say "it makes you think", they subconciously mean the opposite.

Re:Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418596)

It makes me think you are right.

Without the ICC, this won't work (4, Insightful)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418480)

Without the International Criminal Court (and the cooperation of every nation in the world), this kind of system simply won't work. It'd also bring up a lot of juristiction questions, such as whether it's okay for the Internet Police to make arrests in the United States, above the authority of the FBI and such. Also, who would watch them if they even had this power? Corruption in the Internet Police would be impossible to stop.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (-1, Flamebait)

DLR (18892) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418570)

The ICC subournes the rights of U.S. (and possibly other) citizens. Keep that POS away from the U.S. You show me some organization with full accountability to the world's citizens, that doesn't treat the Bill of Rights like a joke, and I'll think about it. Until then you can keep the that facist, socialist organization the Hell out of my back yard.

Again, no flames or troll intended, this is my heartfelt reaction to the above post.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (1)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418589)

Of course. I don't really have any opinion either way (re: ICC).

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418591)

Okay, you just said facist [sic] and socialist, adjectively combining them with a comma, in the same sentence. You, my friend, are a stupid, fucking idiot.

blah.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418599)

Apparently, no one knows the difference, so i'll somewhat educate. Really.. go to wikipedia.org... open two tabs/windows and search for socialism and fascism... You might be enlightened and not make the same mistake again.

or you might be an idiot.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (4, Funny)

zors (665805) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418606)

So its Fascist AND socialist?

Apparently the ICC so evil that one extreme just isn't enough for it, it needs both.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418625)

I can understand why you feel the ICC is illegitimate. After all, it is a court for no government that you have elected (the UN is not a world government). There are no obvious checks and balances. And it benefits small corrupt countries in ways similar to the way that US law benefits the RIAA.

But it has a clever name and a concept that most people think is right. For this reason it is easy for many people to judge others when they dismiss the ICC as absolutely insane as being pretentious by not wanting accountability for their government's actions. Unfortunately thats the way soverneity works. Having the US answer to France for its actions in Iraq are like having Microsoft answer to Walmart for its actions against Netscape. Without a world government the ICC is absolutely illegitimate. Saying that not wanting to join the ICC is a way of not being accountable for your actions forgets the entire illegitimacy of the ICC. Obviously there should be some accountability but the ICC can't do it.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (4, Insightful)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418686)

> that doesn't treat the Bill of Rights like a joke, and I'll think about it.

The ICC is a court, hence most aspects of the Bill of Rights don't even apply to the ICC. Otherwise, the court follows the international accepted rules [icc-cpi.int] of conduct, most of which are written of the Bill of Rights. Here the complete statute [un.org]

Concerning the aspect of undue punishment, the ICC is judging over war-crimes and genocide. What kind of punishment would the US [umkc.edu] impose on those crimes?

So, it seems to me, that your personal distrust for foreign and/or supranational entities is more the basis for your reaction than its legal framework.

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418771)

"Concerning the aspect of undue punishment, the ICC is judging over war-crimes and genocide. What kind of punishment would the US [umkc.edu] impose on those crimes?
So, it seems to me, that your personal distrust for foreign and/or supranational entities is more the basis for your reaction than its legal framework.
"

Undue punishment is not even a question being asked. The questions being asked are whether small countries like Iran suddenly charge than 50 US generals, 25 British generals, etc. have committed war crimes to stall larger countries from taking certain actions. Under the ICC false charges could temporarily imprison a large fraction of the military or political leadership. As I said in a previous post [slashdot.org] , the ICC is also illegitimate without a world government.

I'm not suprised by your knee-jerk response that the US doesn't want to be accountable for its actions. It seems to be the default answer for people who are pro-ICC (rather than emphasize its virtues to convince people they degrade people to try to force them to join--doesn't work with stubborn people; it just pisses them off).

Re:Without the ICC, this won't work (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418807)

Surely they would need some sort of credible evidence to make the charges, just as you need some evidence before you arrest someone for (say) murder. It's not as if I can accuse someone I don't like of murder and have them put in custody for a few weeks, and I don't see why it should be different with the ICC.

Fascist Socialists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418836)

This is an interesting combo that I see frequently on the Net coming from people who would greatly benefit from a more Socialist society and economy because they're typically lower class, uneducated types or at least trolling for that mentality. It inevitably leave you with the impression that the writer actually supports fascism just like the dupes in the thrities and for the same reasons, ie immigrant bashing, subtle racism --in the beginning anyway-- and an inflated image of national historical importance. Oh, and don't forget the vague references to religious or superstitious metaphors and, as we see in this post, a bit of straight-up paranoia.
Intriguingly, a take-off on this same technique of mixing up the incompatible, or doublespeak as Orwell would have it, was used in the thirties as we can plainly see from the acronym Z in the acronym NAZI which stood for Zocialismus or something like that. In this case, it was a case of co-opting the popularity of socialism at the time while mixing it with nationalism despite the fact the two were clearly incompatible.
So, the rhetorical strategy, crude as it is, remains the same basically. Just mix up anything that you imagine is popular or unpopular and use it as a blunt weapon to force your position by any means. The Republican Party has a staff that specializes in just such techniques and they've been remarkable successful in their efforts up to this point.
Where they fail, as we saw in the recent debates and here on Slashdot, is when they have to face criticism of their transparent techniques. As long as they can shout louder than anyone else, they can simply shove their way to the top, but when the forum is moderated, this is no longer possible.

That may not be a good combination (0, Troll)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418628)

Exactly.

The UN was created to unite countries, but it's largely ignored by powerful countries *cough* Iraq *cough* - and the Internet is beginning to being largely controlled by big corporations.

The goals of the UN are laudable, but quite honestly they are powerless to do just about anything substantial, except humanitarian and aid-work. What is the use of an International Body when you cannot keep aggressors at check?

From the Blog -

Then bride and groom would unite their virtues and overcome those gloomy vices gnawing at their vitals.

Hmm, what if it happened the other way around? Both of their negatives brought each other down?

Powerful corporations exist in powerful countries whose governments are controlled by powerful corporations.

It also provides for a single point of failure, if the so-called union did happen.

And oh, this is my 1000th comment. Yay!

I like that neologism (1)

midgley (629008) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418772)

Juristiction - the process of making a charge stick.

Addition to language noted.

The UN is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418486)

Isn't the UN just some tool of the US Federal Gov't, itself a tool of some secret group like the Skull & Bones?

Yeah, let's give the last remaining actual "freedom" we have left (the Net) over to the most corrupt and widely-policing Capitalist Authoritarian organization possible.

I think not.

-AC

Re:The UN is Evil (5, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418626)

Yeah, let's give the last remaining actual "freedom" we have left (the Net) over to the most corrupt and widely-policing Capitalist Authoritarian organization possible.

Too late. Your IP has been tracked and the CIA will be by shortly to assist your enrollment in a 're-education' program. You'll be wearing Nikes, bopping to Britney Spears, and taping Survivor in no time.

Don't worry, you'll still be allowed choices. Specifically "Coke or Pepsi" and "Doritos, Doritos Extreme and Lo-Carb Mega Doritos Extreme".

Ah, yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418489)

Hey! You got Native Americans in my Las Vegas there-is-no-mafia owned casino!
Hey! You got Las Vegas there-is-no-mafia casinos in my Native American "reservation".

Hey! You got GPL code in my closed source OS.
Hey! You got monopoly computer company IP in your GPL.

Hey! You got ineffective "League of Nations" world government in my "Wild West" Internet.
Hey! You got "Wild West" Internet in my ineffective "League of Nations" world government.

I concur. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418498)

Most...

confusing...

post...

EVAR.

Re:I concur. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418537)

Gooville [google.com]

Chocolate Peanut Butter [tripletsandus.com]

Cats and dogs (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418501)

Cats meow and dogs bark. I know! Let's marry them and get an animal that can do both!

Re:Cats and dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418546)

Soda out of nose and onto keyboard. Damn you!

Smash the State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418506)

destroy authority.

Young Ones (1)

DrunkenTerror (561616) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418555)

[SCENE: In the cellar, Neil is hard at work with a pick-axe, while Rick is just poking at the floor, hardly moving at all. Vyvyan is standing over them.]

VYVYAN: Get on with it, Rick, you big poof!

[Kicks Rick aside and jumps in the hole, starting to pound with his head. Vyvyan and Neil alternate for a bit, then Vyvyan's head gets stuck in the hole, and Neil drives down with the pick-axe.]

NEIL: Oh, sorry, Vyv.

VYVYAN: [stands, with the axe stuck through his head] That's OK, Neil. It was bound to happen sooner or later. [Collapses]

RICK: [leans over] You all right, Vyvyan? Vyvyan?! [pause] Great! This is it! I've been waiting two hours for this. It's a revolution!

NEIL: What do you mean, revolution?

RICK: Blood runs! Flags wave! Come on, everybody, throw down your tools and knock down the barricade. Come on, run into the Winter Palace. Run into the Winter Palace and stand on tables, waving bits of paper at each other! Yes! Yes!! Hello, are you the Czar?!

[jumps up and down, excited]

Yes, I am, actually. [points a finger] Bam bam! Tough luck, fascist!!

[Neil takes out a tissue and starts waving it around]

That's what happens to people who aren't working class! Yes, Neil. Listen. I've got everything ready. In ten minutes time there's going to be a massive rock and roll benefit in the drawing room. And right at the climax, the oppressed working classes of this house, that's you, mainly...

NEIL: Right.

RICK: ...will rise up and seize control of the state! Brilliant! Revolution!

NEIL: Revolution.

RICK: Watch out, Norman Tebbit!

[The screen tumbles and fades out. It fades back in to find Rick and Vyvyan sprawled in the basement.]

RICK: God! I wish they wouldn't keep doing that!

NEIL: It's the passage of time, Rick.

[Vyvyan stands up, throws up, falls down]

Re:Smash the State (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418637)

destroy authority.

By what authority?

Why does this seem like a bad idea? (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418519)

The Internet should be for the People, by the People, and of the People. There has to be a better solution than having the U.N. get involved.

Re:Why does this seem like a bad idea? (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418545)

The Internet should be for the People, by the People, and of the People. Just to play a devil's advocate: why? It's not a natural right or anything.

I think the idea was not to involve UN per se, but to develop a single controlling body for internet regulation the operation of which resembles UN.

We are seriously overdue for an international "Internet Council" that would have the final say in internet legislation and its enforcement. We have no hope in curbing spam, for instance, as long as we hope it's dealt with at a national level.

Internet Council (2, Interesting)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418700)

If we did create an Internet Council, then perhaps some precautions to prevent abuse. One, don't allow current politicians to hold a position. Two, don't allow anyone who has held a political office in the past six years hold a position. Three, have term limits.

Re:Why does this seem like a bad idea? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418653)

The Internet should be for the People, by the People, and of the People. There has to be a better solution than having the U.N. get involved.

As the Internet gets more and more controlled, you'll see three forces at play.

1. Corporate
2. Government (ie: 1. Corporate)
3. The anarchy/democratic/social/liberty interests

Now, if you can get 2 to cede to the UN (a body that often finds it can't do anything much of importance), we'll still have a strong 3, and now a weakened 2. And with a weakened 2, 1 will have lost a major ally.

At least, that's one way to look at it.

Re:Why does this seem like a bad idea? (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418713)


That's an interesting point of view and I think there's some truth to it.

On the subject of three, it's interesting to consider that technologically the people do currently have control. The internet is a co-operative effort and to subvert it, the Powers That Be, need to subvert either people's control over their individual PCs (such as with Trusted Computing) or the connection (such as increasingly vicious legislation on the ISPs, making them responsible for their customer's actions).

We've been seeing movement on both these fronts.

Add to the list (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418529)

Sterling forgot to mention that the UN is as rife with corruption as its member states are.

Re:Add to the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418833)

Sterling forgot to mention that the US is as rife with corruption as its member states are.

How about this (2, Interesting)

quintessent (197518) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418538)

Take all the UN delegates and let them telecommute. Send them to the UN wiki sight, and let them go at it. Resolutions, pronouncements, the whole bit all resolved through wiki edit wars.

All the world's problems would be solved instantly. Or at least it would be entertaining to watch.

Re:How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418598)

All the world's problems would be solved instantly.

I take it you haven't been involved in a wiki edit war recently? ;-).

Re:How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418651)

"Take all the UN delegates and let them telecommute. Send them to the UN wiki sight, and let them go at it. Resolutions, pronouncements, the whole bit all resolved through wiki edit wars.
All the world's problems would be solved instantly. Or at least it would be entertaining to watch."

You seem to have forgotten that most people who engage in wiki edit wars have nothing better to do and don't have WMDs like aircraft carriers or Minuteman III nuclear missiles at their disposal. If I did and I was in a wiki edit war, I would write my proposal and through other methods ensure that it didn't change.

U.N. and the Tele (3, Insightful)

PerpetualMotion (550623) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418548)

Why not marry the UN and the telephone? That would make about as much sense. The United Nations is a government entity, the Internet is a service.

A service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418711)

Are you a nerd or Joe Sixpack? Calling the internet a service...

Re:U.N. and the Tele (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418810)

The United Nations is a government entity

That seems to be the common consensus in America.

Re:U.N. and the Tele (1)

Wanderer2 (690578) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418818)

Why not marry the UN and the telephone?

Do you mean like this? [wikipedia.org]

I don't know what you mean by "the Internet is a service", as it's more of a network over which services can be provided. Similarly, the UN provides a framework over which certain services can be provided.

This is a really bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418550)

The worst aspects of the UN and the internet would amplify one another.

One of the biggest issues with the UN right now is that the role it wants to play and the world, and the role the world wants it to play, is still not clearly defined. Moreover, the UN really hasn't shown that it is a useful mechanism for much of anything-- it's kind of usable as a voluntary system for forming consensus between countries which wish to do so, but it has a system which has ZERO proven ability to act as a governing body over anything whatsoever at all-- the UN has never done anything but coordinate activities in which all parties are acting consensually. The one thing that the UN does have going for it is that to a certain extent it's consistent. Give it some sort of authority over the internet and this all falls apart because suddenly it has direct authority over something where money is involved, meaning it's in the interest of those with money to start directly influencing it rather than simply buying its member nations.

Meanwhile if the idea is to go the other way and have the internet start to impact the UN, that's an even worse idea. That would mean that level of participation and influence in the UN a certain area has would be directly linked to its level of technologcal development and affluence.

Meanwhile, what *is* the appropriate role of the UN? The suggestions offered here would muddy that question even further, perhaps to the point where a clear answer to that question would never manage to emerge.

I'm from the goverment... (2, Insightful)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418551)

...and I'm here to help!

The internet is driven by it's users, the UN, the protoype world goverment, is driven by power.

The internet has intelligence at it's ends, the UN intellegence is centralised.

The internet routes around censorship, the UN is censorship.

He's from the goverment and all he does is cost money and fuck things up.

Re:I'm from the goverment... (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418580)

The internet is driven by it's users, the UN, the protoype world goverment, is driven by power.

Power, but I'd it politics. You know, it has been practised since foverer and is fundamentally a good thing? Internet is becoming way too important economically and politically to be left in the direct control of the "users" (citizens).

The internet has intelligence at it's ends

And this distributed intelligence you speak of has been just how successful in dealing with crap like spam?

The internet routes around censorship, the UN is censorship.

That's just silly. UN is not censorship.

He's from the goverment and all he does is cost money and fuck things up.

Remember that the next time you use any national infrastructure such as rescue services, health care or... (gasp!) the internet!

Re:I'm from the goverment... (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418718)

Politics has only really been around for about 15,000 years, not a long time in the evolution of man and certainly not forever. In fact we survived for a very long time with little or no politics. Only when our food supply was brought under lock and key did politics become neccessary.

The internet is doing just fine without the goverment why fuck with something that works? In fact it could be held up as a model for what happens when goverment leaves well alone. Every time control is applied to the net it changes and reacts in ways unexpected or intended. I wonder what beneifts you think a goverment could bring?

I have no problem with spam. I have a yahoo account on the odd occasion I get spam, I let yahoo know and they can then filter out that spam for others. Now what is the goverment proposal to stop spam?

The UN is politico organistation with aims and goals, they engage in PR. Do you think they publish every piece of information they recieve?

Where I live the emrgency services are paid for with my taxes. I would much prefer going back to a system that had no goverment involvement. Or are you going to tell me these services work and are worth money they cost?

The internet was up and running in the late 60s, how long did it take for the goverment to de-regulate it? Are you going to hold this up as a goverment success? I think you could speculate that an internet was bound to happen as soon as computers were cheap, look at the 80s BBS scene, look at WiFi now. The question is did the goverment help or hinder the development?

I do feel there is place for a goverment, but one that is smaller and more open than the one we have now. I would love to see anarchy, the lack of goverment, embraced. I just fear that anarchy like democracy or communisim would be a fleeting step before oppresion.

Re:I'm from the goverment... (3, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418787)

Only when our food supply was brought under lock and key did politics become neccessary.

Uh. No. The moment there was more than two people together, there was politics. With the emergence of the first shamans, wise-men, tribal leaders and priests, the fight for socioeconomical control within the group just became more formalized. You're right in saying that the way how politics works has changed during our social evolution, but as one of the fundamental ways of how we organize ourselves, it will never go away.

I have no problem with spam.

I do and it has nothing to do with my mail-box getting clogged by spam. It hinders my work, because these days when I send critical work related information to someone by e-mail, I also have to fax it and sometimes even phone the recipient to make sure that he/she has got the information. Where do the e-mails go then? They disappear into spam filtters or simply get accidentally deleted when the recipient is purging his mailbox manually. The e-mail as a means for communication is getting more and more useless every year.

Saying that spam is not out of control or that it isn't costing the infrastructure money is just wrong. Hiding your head in the sand won't make the problem disappear.

The UN is politico organistation with aims and goals, they engage in PR. Do you think they publish every piece of information they recieve?

Of course not. Why should they? It wouldn't serve any purpose. Withholding sensitive information from people who're not entitled to it is not censorship, but common sense. Any government does it and it's a good thing. If you want direct access to such information, get yourself involved in politics - if, like me, you don't want to do that, you'll just have to trust your elected representatives.

Or are you going to tell me these services work and are worth money they cost?

Where I live, they work and I would be willing to pay even more taxes to expand them. It would be horrific to live in a society where you'd be denied medical help just because "you haven't paid the last installment as specified in your contract with MediCorp(tm)".

The question is did the goverment help or hinder the development?

The Finnish internet backbone (funet.fi [www.csc.fi] ) is a state sponsored infrastructure into which all the stream from private ISPs eventually flows. I'd say that the government involvement has significantly helped our access to the internet.

Re:I'm from the goverment... (4, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418826)


Amen.

To those who believe that the distributed intelligence of the internet (the users at its ends) is insufficient to manage itself, I'd say that the evidence is to the contrary. It is not the government that has provided us with ways of dealing with spam, of effective encryption and VoIP. It is smart individuals and groups that move much faster than governments.

And if the users, who are not in fact users as the grandparent termed them, but actually comprise the internet itself, were insufficient to manage themselves, then there is an alternative to taking the control away and centralizing it, and that would be to increase the education level of these "users."

More than any other systems, democracies and anarchies, require intelligent and educated people. Right now the internet is an anarchy and long may it remain so.

Tongue in cheek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418558)

Yes, it does make me think...about the horrible crimes and abuses of the system that will occur. I acknowledge things are pretty bad right now, with individual countries trying to enforce ineffectual laws, often limited by jurisdictional issues. But that will be nothing compared to the hell-hole it will be if the UN ever sinks its claws into it.

"Help you take down that {child pornography} to protect the children? Son, our mandate says we are here in a security role only, unless the shots are aimed at us, we can't fire back."

UN involved in terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418572)

The UN forces assisted the Hizballa, a fanatic muslim organisation in Lebanon, by covering up for them in the abduction and murder of 3 Israely soldiers. UN vehicles were spottted by a UAV transporting Kasam-rocket launch crews in the Gaza strip, belonging to the fanatic muslim group called Hamas. Are we supposed to trust the UN with something as precious as the Net?

Re:UN involved in terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418612)

So, I take it you don't have any proof for your conspiracy theories at all, then?

Some links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418715)

Soldiers abduction 1 [wordiq.com] - scroll to the October 2000 part.
Soldiers abduction 2 [mia.org.il]

Amunition carrying ambulances etc. [wnd.com] [WorldNetDaily]

As for the rockets, the footage is a day old, so I couldn't find a link. Sorry about that.

Jello (1)

chaffed (672859) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418586)

The tighter you squeeze Lord Annan, the more networks that will slip through you grasp.

It would be like a fist full of jello. The tighter they try to make the controls the more you'll see independent and censorship free networks rise. Such as Area Wide Wireless Networks and sub networks like freenet.

Confused (4, Insightful)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418608)

I'm confused here. Is Sterling proposing that the Internet be regulated to carry only the lowest common denominator of traffic? No political dissent, because China vetos it on the Security Council? No pr0n because a coalition of Moslem states raise a motion forbidding it, then use their block vote and the implicit threat of terrorism to force it through? RIAA and MPAA running hog wild because the US ties humanitarian assistance to acceptance of its IP agenda?

Sterling really ought to stick to the novels, tho' having said that, apart from Difference Engine I haven't been impressed by any of his work.

Re:Confused (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418804)

No pr0n because a coalition of Moslem states raise a motion forbidding it, then use their block vote and the implicit threat of terrorism to force it through?

PLEASE STOP WITH THIS MUSLIM == TERRORISM CRAP!!!

A slashdot story the other day showed the CHRISTIAN party in Australia trying to force pr0n censorship on the Australian people. Yes that's right, the EXTREMIST CHRISTIAN party.

You media brainwashed types sicken me!

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418849)

Yeah, it's not like moslems are committing terrorist acts in Indonesia, United States, Russia, Israel, Spain, Germany, France, Afghanistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey...

Hey Bruce... (-1, Troll)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418616)

Why don't you marry your sister [metroactive.com] . She's obviously hot and you're obviously smart. Think of the smart cute children you could have.

Nice idea, but ... (1)

svin (803162) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418621)

It is a nice idea, and it is in accordance with one of the purpose statements [un.org] made by the UN:

3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

However in reality giving the UN control of the internet is a dream:
  • It would require all countries to give up their own laws regarding computers placed in their country (eg. Germany could not forbid nazi-propaganda spread by german servers). A sacrifice few governments will make - and even fewer to the UN.
  • It would require the UN to make (many & complex) laws about theese sort of things. Seing how hard it is to agree on something in the UN now, this could not be done.
As I said: nice idea, but ...

Reverse that... (1)

NEOtaku17 (679902) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418652)

"Germany could not forbid nazi-propaganda spread by german servers"

Who says that the UN will change Germany's law and not just outlaw nazi-propaganda anywhere on the internet?

Re:Reverse that... (1)

mattkinabrewmindspri (538862) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418745)

That's exactly why we shouldn't add another form of government. The internet should be unregulated by any new body.

The laws of the country you are connected in already apply. More crooked politicians is one of the last things this world needs.

The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (4, Insightful)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418624)

Before too many people start saying "the UN is powerless", please think what the UN actually is.

The UN is a place to discuss problems between countries, to discuss world-wide problems. It is a place to organise solutions with regarding to global problems. It is an umbrella under which people can operate without having to worry from which country they are coming.

The UN consist of, included but not limited to, the Security Counsel, UNICEF (childrens fund) and the UNHCR (refugees). Don't judge the whole UN by the (in)capabilities of one section.

The UN itself doesn't have much power, they have as much power as the contributing countries give them. If the world cries "UN, help them!", but the countries don't give men and material, the UN can't help.

The UN is a place to resolve problems if everybody wants to resolve them, it is not a power which can resolve problems on its own.

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418681)

You're mostly right, but you're forgetting an important point -- UN is useless if it is powerless against powerful agressors.

Germany grew to be powerful, and when it attacked, most countries did nothing to stop it. You may go ahead and draw the analogy.

Sure, the UN does a lot of other things, such as provide aid and what not. Mind you, so did the League of Nations [wikipedia.org] - which was founded after WW-1 to prevent agressors. UN could no do anything to prevent the Cold War, and neither can it stop aggression today.

It's quite pointless when you are not solving the bigger problems -- Dictatorships across the world, Human Right abuses in a nation that's a member of the Security Council and aggressive nations that attack soveriegn nations with no respect to International borders on various pretexts.

So yes, although the UN indeed *does* do a lot of things, it is quite useless in my eyes.

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418707)

...Human Right abuses in a nation that's a member of the Security Council ...

Be prudent, you risk to infuriate all american slashdot readers.

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418716)

I think he was referring to China...

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418736)

Wait, he was not speaking of Russia, nor USA, nor England, nor France ?
Tell me of one contry where there is NO human right abuse...
The fact to officially have atomic bombs has nothing to do with uttermost repect for fellow humans. One can even think the opposite is true.

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (2, Insightful)

MavEtJu (241979) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418801)

UN is useless if it is powerless against powerful agressors

That's mostly a problem of the participating countries which do not want to solve it.

It's quite pointless when you are not solving the bigger problems

The UN is helping in this. But you expect it to happen overnight. That's not going to happen.

Education and medication is a first step in helping people. Once people understand what is going on in their world, they will take care of their dictatorship-based governments themselves.

It is not that Europe (not to hassle Europe, it's the continent I have most historical information about) has always been peaceful. Think about the Roman Empire which stretched from left to right. Think about the Spanish Empire which stretched from bottom to top. Think about the L'Empire Napoleonien, which stretched from left to right. And think about the Deutscher Reich which stretched from left to right. They all existed, and they all dissolved when it was their time.

That is what rulers, governments and empires do: they come and go. Sometimes you can do something about it (think about Greater Iraq which existed for about six months), sometimes you can't do anything about it (think about the fourty years for before 1993 in Eastern-Europe).

The UN is a global organisation which can survive empires, which can survive governments and which can survive empires because they are not one. As long as the participating countries want it, it can exist.

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (1)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418843)

The UN is not a entity which has power in itself. It is only as powerful as its members empower it.

But even then, the task of the UN is not to tell how a nation is to be run. (Or do you think the USSR or China would have agreed and participated in such an organisation). The UN is a public forum of the nations.

Instead of private meetings between various ambassadors, you have a public discussion. And the behaviour of the nations representatives are judged by other nations.

And I'd say that is quite powerful in itself.

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418749)

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418758)

when you want to present proofs on the subject :
1) choose some video with a common codec
2) don't give an address in Israel

Re:The UN can't do anything unless you want it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418803)


This video was recorded by an unmanned Israeli Air Force aircraft. I don't see any reason not to offer the original source video with no modifications.
Oh, and by the way, it's pretty cool. Kinda reminds me of Grand Theft Auto.

Exactly (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418790)

It isn't just true for the UN but for peace in general. Wether it is organisations like the EU, the benelux or for that matter the United States of America, all of them can only work if all the members want it to work.

Even peace can only work if both sides want peace. After WW2 the european nations more or less decided that there were to be no more wars (on european soil between european nations, the rest of the world was still open season) and because all of them decided it it happened. Even though spain and england have a dispute over the rock of gibraltar. Even though Ireland and England are in dispute. Even though most of the nations have a long long history of war with each other there has been peace.

But even in europe there are still wars, Northern Ireland and Baskenland, because in those cases one side doesn't want peace.

Or maybe I am using the wrong word. It is not so much a case of wanting or not wanting peace. It is a case of the various sides wanting or not wanting things but not considering war to be a way of achieving those wants.

Simple example. Drugs. The Netherlands has a rather liberal policy on it, France does not. In the past the frence goverment wanted holland to change its policy but not so badly as to go to war. Unlike america wich has gone to war over drugs.

The UN can only work if all the sides involved consider war not really to be an option. It is like those pub fights were arguments flare up and things get out of hand. In some cases both the fighters can't back down but really want a third person to step in and stop the fight allowing both to save face. If however one in the fight really wants the fight to happen the third party is powerless.

Of course the world is not a pub. In a pub you got maybe 4 sides, the two fighters, those who want to watch a fight and those who don't. The world has got close to two hundred countries with each country often having conflicting intrests. The fact that the UN still exists may be considered an achievement.

Bureaucracy (1)

felesii (673184) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418658)

The Internet is still "cool" because it has that lawless wild west sort of feel to it. The useless bureaucracy that is the UN would only make it un-fun. Sure it may be "dangerous" if you dont know what you're doing, but why would anyone wander around the wild west if they didnt know what they were doing.

Bruce is an idiot. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418662)

Seriously. He gets more air time then he deserves.

I can see it now... (1, Insightful)

Bill_Royle (639563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418663)

I can see the charter now:

1. Notice spyware problem.
2. Announce commission to study spyware problem.
3. Approves resolution condemning spyware problem.
4. Watch as spyware problem continues.
5. Repeat steps 3-4

Re:I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418751)

1. Notice spyware problem.
2. Announce commission to study spyware problem.
3. Approves resolution condemning spyware problem.
4. Watch as spyware problem continues.
5. Repeat steps 3-4
and 6 occurs after a short period of time
6. US decides to unilaterially solve the spyware problem by invading several countries with big oil wells

Re:I can see it now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418799)

More like this:

6. Spyware base discovered to be in Greenland.
7. US decides to invade Antarctica to disarm of spyware. When no spyware found it claims it is there to save the penguins.

US owes the UN Money (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418666)

Has it ocurred to anyone that the reason the UN "can't get anything useful done" is that the US owes close to $600 Million in dues? The US also routinely withholds money whenever it feels it can gain leverage on an issue.

Add to this the fact that the US has veto power over most issues (meaning it can skew any issue to suit its' purposes) and refuses to recognise the need for anything like an International Criminal Court and you have a recipe for a dysfunctional organisation.

The UN fails in its' role due to the often devisive action (or inaction) of the US. Perhaps if the US were a better global citizen the UN might have a chance of actually working?

my 2c

Re:US owes the UN Money (1)

rautell (531390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418845)

Speaking of being a "better global citizen" [timesonline.co.uk] ..

Start from scratch (1)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418680)

Using the existing institutions is not an option, as they are thoroughly corrupt, for otherwise they would have been unable to exist through the last few decades. The credibility of the UN to do anything has been forever ruined after the preventable genocide in Rwanda [visiontv.ca] .

If you want world democracy, start from scratch. A political party entirely ruled through direct democracy and consensus is possible. That means that even if the party becomes part of a state or national government, all its political decisions are made by the whole membership. This in itself gives people an incentive to join the party, creating a snowball effect. The key to making the whole thing work is to tie the process of voting on ideas to the process by which people arrive at judgments about ideas, i.e. to connect democratic media and democratic decision-making. That way you avoid the common pitfall of direct democracy, ill-informed voters. You could in fact make participation in the democratic media a requirement for participation in the voting process.

This is not an unsolvable problem. It's just that there aren't enough people who care about solving it. Yourparty [yourparty.org] is similar to what I describe here, IIRC, although I'm not sure they're doing the democratic media side of things.

It gets more complex when you try to address the major problem of centralization, which has potential for abues. Then you soon get into discussions about replacing the web itself ..

vundabar... (1)

Obliterous (466068) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418691)

as if the 'net isn't getting screwed up enough with over-regulation. put the UN in charge of it, and you wount be able to do ANYTHING that might concievably offend someone else...
the UN needs to be abolished.

Well, the internet is missing something... (2, Interesting)

CdotZinger (86269) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418695)

...the millions of corpses that only a government could provide.

Our glorious, progressive 20th century institutions gave us about a hundred and fifty million real, rotting bodies to enjoy, while this vile anarchic 21st century internet has given us a only few hundred pictures of corpses--and most of them are the same old dead people from the 1900s!

It's just uncivilized.

Projecting from today's numbers, the internet will have produced not even a dozen violent deaths by century's end. Something must be done to end this lawless barbarity before it corrupts us all!

Re:Well, the internet is missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418808)

Even if the UN 'married' the Internet it wouldn't make any difference to how things are conducted in 'Rogue' states such as America, the UK and Australia. ... Bring it on right-wing pinkoes!

Whatever he's been smoking ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418701)

...I don't want any. Ever.

Just what we need: a bunch of flame warriors [winternet.com] trying to run the world.

You almost got it.... (3, Informative)

Japong (793982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418742)

Did any of you RTFA? This is more about implementing a system for UN diplomatic underlings to get work done online than having the UN "take over" the internet. The concept of having a secure, government to government electronic communication system probably would be faster, cheaper and more effective than gathering in Geneva every time we want to discuss the price of cod fish.

Exactly what I expected from an Idealist. (3, Interesting)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418744)

How Idealism works:

1. Point out things you are unhappy with, no complaint is to small to be totally blown out of proportion. Make sure you compare whatever exists to a perfection that need not be possible to attain.

2. Propose solution! The solution is to always get rid of the evil conspiracy holding back progress, because the answers to how to do really complicated things on a large scale are clear to everyone and all that stands in the way is the conspiracy.

3. Leave all the details for later (and there are a lot of details). Explain that you or your favorite know-it-all organization have to be in charge of things before you'll even bother with figuring out the details.

4. Get in power, screw up far more than what was there already and blame it on the continuing legacy of the conspiracy.

5. Propose even stronger more drastic reforms. Continue from here to step 4 until people are totally sick of you and tell you to get lost or you've totally destroyed what you were trying to fix to the point that nobody cares about it anymore.

Re:Exactly what I expected from an Idealist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418775)

Google is currently at its peak, and for the next few years will be THE search engine in terms of Global search but more Local searchers will be established and make it harder for google to gain into those markets. Look at WWW.Renjo.com to see what i mean. Its a fairly new search engine that uses lots of complex algorithms that offer something else to google and its proved popular compared to google but then again arent they all. For one of the Newly minted Google people, id say take the money and go for it yourself and start your own, go to school, do research, retire whatever.

Oh boy oh boy... (2, Funny)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418766)

Erm, nevermind the UN, but the net...

Getting married with her sure sounds exciting!

**Maybe I can have flings with PCs and Macs when the net is busy transiting to IPV6 too!

Charlie Stross, another tongue in another cheek (1)

midgley (629008) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418781)

(Unix geek, radical and English author living in Scotland for anyone who didn't know - you'd enjoy "The Atrocity Archives" if you like /.))

In his novels Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise Suggested that after the Spike/Singularity/quite a while the IETF would be the only vestige of current political institutions and be the UN.

I think it was just a throwaway, like having a door dilate, but it entertained.

Hard Going for Google from here on (1)

Freshjada (818623) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418782)

Google is currently at its peak, and for the next few years will be THE search engine in terms of Global search but more Local searchers will be established and make it harder for google to gain into those markets. Look at WWW.Renjo.com to see what i mean. Its a fairly new search engine that uses lots of complex algorithms that offer something else to google and its proved popular compared to google but then again arent they all. For one of the Newly minted Google people, id say take the money and go for it yourself and start your own, go to school, do research, retire whatever.

How the Internet can be like the UN... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10418791)

Yes, and the internet can work just like the UN: put Microsoft, SCO, the RIAA, the MPAA etc. on the "Software Rights" Commission. It would be analagous to Lybia and such being on the "Human Rights" Commission.

What about state terror? (-1, Troll)

hopethishelps (782331) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418797)

The UN ... can't get anything useful done about the darkly rising tide of stateless terror and military adventurism

I'm more concerned about acts of terror committed by states than about stateless terror. Non-state terror, like the attack on the WTC, rarely takes many lives. The WTC attack killed about 3000, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime event. The US attack on Iraq, on the other hand, has killed about 10,000 people already, almost all of them either civilians, or people just trying to defend their country. Unlike the WTC, this is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. Increasingly, it's seen as the kind of thing a US President can do to increase his approval ratings.

He fails to understand why they are anatgonistic (1)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10418814)

The UN is about government force. It chooses by politics, pull, and muscle. It operates by coercion, subtle or overt. To the extent it has any high minded ideals, they operate like laws: instructing everyone how to behave, and threatening punishment for disobedience.

The internet is about freedom and choice. Partly, it works because of mutual cooperation for mutual profit. Partly, it works because of the liberty to NOT cooperate, be a maverick, and invent something new (which might be better), and sell it on its merits. Just like the free market, basically.

It's no surprise they won't mix, they're FUNDAMENTAL OPPOSITES.
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