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[ NNSquad ] Touting Snowden, Russia Again Demands UN Takeover of Internet

        Touting Snowden, Russia Again Demands UN Takeover of Internet


It was only late last year that freedom-loving Internet users around
the world were transfixed with concern regarding a possible United
Nations takeover of the Internet -- largely pushed by Russia and other
repressive regimes.

A massive effort to fight back against this was triggered, including
this strong campaign by Google, which I supported: 

http://j.mp/11PbHgQ ("Take Action" / Google)

The threat from the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
was fought back for the moment -- and we all gave a sigh of relief.

But now, in a clear demonstration that actions do have consequences,
often unintended ones, "The New York Times" reports that Russia is
again demanding a UN Internet takeover of exactly the sort repressive
governments around the world have long been lusting after, and using
Edward Snowden's continued presence in Russia as a foundation for this
new thrust. ( http://j.mp/11PbN8j )

Acting as a catalyst for a crackdown against freedom of speech on the
Net was certainly not Snowden's intention -- quite the opposite, it's
reasonable to assume.

But even many of Snowden's most dedicated supporters have seemed
increasingly uneasy at his continuing presence in Russia, under at
least the putative control of Putin -- in a country where you can
spend years in a forced labor camp prison for the crime of blasphemy,
and where freedom of speech is still largely an unfulfilled dream.

And while Snowden's supporters and Snowden himself suggest -- with
considerable merit -- that the focus should be on global intelligence
agencies and not on Snowden himself, the fact is that the way events
have unfolded, Snowden has become the center of attention, and
continues to be in the spotlight.

This puts him -- we can assume unwillingly -- in something of the
position of an "international pawn" to be played by the various powers
with their complex agendas, like icebergs, mostly hidden below the

It may well be the case that Snowden saw no practical alternative
other than fleeing to Russia and asking for asylum there.  This course
of action may yet well serve his needs.

But it would be naive for anyone -- for any of us -- to assume that
Russia would not attempt to leverage a situation like this for their
own purposes of Internet control.  Whether or not they succeed is a
wholly different question, and all of us will have a say in that, one
way or another.

Yes, planned or not, incidental or not, actions do have consequences,
and it would be ironic indeed if Edward Snowden's stated quest to
promote the cause of freedom around the world, had the unintentional
effect of helping to crush Internet freedoms at the hands of his
benefactors of the moment.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org/pfir-info
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
 - Data Wisdom Explorers League: http://www.dwel.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren / Twitter: http://vortex.com/t-lauren 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
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