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  • The UN “Internet” Treaty: Why the Western World Withdrew
Technology Articles > Software > Network & Internet > The UN “Internet” Treaty: Why the Western World Withdrew

Some of the countries that belong to the United Nations (UN) signed a highly controversial treaty today. Many countries backed out of the treaty, however. Those that did not agree with the contents of the treaty include the United States, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Finland, and various others. Why did these countries back out and withdraw treaty support? The treaty that was drafted addresses the Internet. More specifically, Internet censorship.

Why 90 Nations Want Censorship

Even though a handful of countries did not sign the treaty, nearly 90 nations did. A clear divide could be seen between the Western world fighting against Internet censorship and developing nations seeking to control Internet activity at any cost. Governments looking to crack down on the freedom that citizens enjoy while using the Internet rushed into passing the treaty. In addition to the nations that refused to support the treaty (around 20) were many web companies.

Companies like Google fought against the treaty from the start. Google execs believe that the Internet should be a free place, but this is not the stance that countries like China have. Certain countries are seeking to filter material that is shared through the Internet, a move that would have had Western citizens up in arms.

With greater control over Internet content, keeping an eye on citizens will now be easier for those countries that did sign the treaty. In short, if a country like China does not want its citizens to have access to YouTube or some YouTube videos (for example), the site would be blocked.

Why The Treaty Was Drafted

The treaty in question is not a new document. The first treaty was drafted in 1988. Since then, many things about telecommunications have changed. The biggest change being, of course, the Internet. As such, the UN felt that it was time to update the treaty to include Internet happenings. One of the biggest issues on the table was email spam and how to regulate against it. As treaty talk began to develop, however, conversation was moved away from such matters as spam to bigger issues like governing the Internet as a whole.

Presumably, most Westerners will agree (and be proud of) with the stance of countries like the United States and Canada that backed away from the treaty. While the treaty might have included other factors that were not deemed detrimental, signing the treaty would have, in all likeliness, lead to further measures to push Internet censorship.

How will this treaty impact you? Well, it won’t. You won’t see much of a change in the way that the Internet is run. What might happen is a change in the way that countries communicate when it comes to the Internet.

Going forward, it is possible that some countries may begin to create their own Internet regulations, without UN support. It should be stated, though, that a UN treaty that doesn’t have the backing of the most powerful nations is likely a treaty that won’t hold too much water.