Add another name to the list of critics concerned with attempts to rewrite the International Telecommunication Union to give governments control of the Internet: Silicon Valley’s Mozilla now officially opposes the ITU.
Mozilla, the makers of the highly successful Firefox Web browser for Macs, PCs and smart phones, have come out to condemn a top-secret meeting in Dubai this week that could lead to changes with how the world is wired to the Internet.
The details of the closed-door discussions being held between members of the United Nation’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) this week in the United Arab Emirates remains a secret, and that’s exactly why Mozilla is speaking up. In a plea posted on Mozilla.org, the developers write, “The issue isn’t whether our governments, the UN or even the ITU should play a role in shaping the Web. The problem is that they are trying to do it behind closed doors, in secret, without us.”
“The Web lets us speak out, share and connect around the things that matter. It creates new opportunities, holds governments to account, breaks through barriers and makes cats famous. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s because the Web belongs to all of us,” insists Mozilla. “We all get a say in how it’s built.”
Now in order to raise awareness of what the WCIT can do by rewriting the ITU, Mozilla has released an “Engagement Kit” in order to get people around the globe talking about what could happen to the Web without their input ever being considered.
“Mozilla has made it our mission to keep the power of the web in people’s hands,” the developers say.
Mozilla now joins a list of major Internet names opposed to the ITU talks, which in recent days has added both Vint Cerf and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, two computer scientists widely regarded as instrumental figures as far as getting the world online goes.
Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, spoke openly against the ITU just recently while attending the WCIT, warning that rewriting the international treaty to put Internet regulation in the hands of government is not just unnecessary, but would cause a “disruptive threat to the stability” of the Internet as we know it.
“A lot of concerns I’ve heard from people have been that, in fact, countries that want to be able to block the Internet and give people within their country a ‘secure’ view of what’s out there would use a treaty at the ITU as a mechanism to do that, and force other countries to fall into line with the blockages that they wanted to put in place,” Berners-Lee said.
Leaked documents from the WCIT meeting suggest that shot-callers from across the globe have floated the idea of adopting a new standard for the Internet that will implement deep packet inspection, or DPI, essentially allowing all traffic sent across the Web to be reviewed by a governing body.
“It’ll be the biggest power grab in the UN’s history, as well as a perversion of its power,” blogger Arthur Herman wrote of the proposal.