Written by William F. Jasper
In late September and early October of this year, huge demonstrations broke out in Hong Kong. The protesters were outraged by the decision of Communist Party leaders on the mainland to stack the deck for elections to Hong Kong’s chief executive post with pro-Beijing lackeys. Day after day, as the “umbrella revolution” in Hong Kong swelled from thousands to hundreds of thousands, China’s infamous “Great Firewall” effectively prevented most Chinese from even learning about the Hong Kong protests. China’s army of Internet censors, ably assisted by software and hardware from Western companies, worked furiously to block and scrub stories, images, and comments about the demonstrations from news sites, blogs, social media, and search engines.
Beginning on October 1, the propaganda organs of the People’s Republic began flooding China’s media — including the regime’s controlled Internet sites and social media — with stories extolling patriotism and images of parades and other events celebrating National Day, the PRC’s great communist holiday. When coverage of Hong Kong finally did appear on mainland television and Internet, it was to falsely present the largely peaceful demonstrations as violent and lawless. The man-on-the-street interviews presented by the Party-controlled media, not surprisingly, presented comments that universally condemned the Hong Kong protests and unanimously supported the “democracy” willed by the party leaders.
But the rigid control exercised by Communist China over the Internet does not merely encompass censorship of truths that the regime finds inconvenient. It also entails tracking down those who dare to dissent from the party line in cyberspace.
Who will control the Internet — and all of our personal and business data, communications, and activities that stream through it? The United Nations? The U.S. government? Multinational corporations? A hybrid consortium of governments, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, and corporations?
Those were the important questions under discussion and negotiation at the recently concluded Ninth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which took place September 1-5 in Istanbul, Turkey. Considering the magnitude of the issues involved — privacy, surveillance, cybercrime, national security, intellectual property rights, not to mention trillions of dollars in commerce — the UN-sponsored IGF summit received remarkably little coverage from the mainstream media. A Plenipotentiary Conference of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is taking place in Busan, South Korea, during the last week of October and the first week of November.
It was the ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12) in Dubai that touched off a worldwide reaction against the UN grab for control over the Internet.
China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, and other repressive regimes that already drastically censor and restrict Internet usage, while at the same time using cyberpolice to track and arrest dissidents, have been demanding that control over the Internet be “internationalized” under some sort of multilateral UN apparatus that would give governments Beijing-style controls globally. When the secret text of the ITU’s proposed Dubai “reforms” leaked out in 2012, it was clear that it reflected these statist influences.
On September 22, 2012, the U.S. Senate, in a rare show of unity, by unanimous consent passed a resolution introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) calling on the U.S. government to oppose United Nations control of the Internet. The U.S. House of Representatives, likewise, approved the same resolution by a 397-0 vote.
Other “stakeholders” — NGOs, corporations, think tanks, and Western governments — have been pushing for a “multistakeholder” mixed form of “global governance” for the Internet that appears, on the surface at least, to be a better alternative. But as is so often the case, surface appearances can be misleading.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration has already begun transferring stewardship of the Internet to a nebulous and evolving multistakeholder system that may prove little different from the UN’s multilateral model. Despite repeated pledges by President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other administration spokesmen of commitment to openness, transparency, privacy rights, and freedom of expression on the Internet, the reality is that the administration is moving toward more censorship, surveillance, and repression on the Internet.
On March 14, the Obama administration announced that in October 2015 the United States will relinquish all remaining control over the “root” of the Internet to an obscure, non-profit organization. That group, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), promises to create a new structure that will keep the Internet private, safe, and robust. From the start of the Internet in the early 1990s, a computer genius named Jon Postel managed the Internet from his office at the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, under the name Internet Assigned Names Authority (IANA). When Postel died suddenly in 1998 at age 55, his responsibilities were transferred to ICANN under the control of the Department of Commerce (DoC). But the contract under which ICANN has been operating ends in September 2015, after which ICANN will operate on its own. According to Larry Strickling, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) inside the DoC, the new ICANN management will not lead to control by the UN or any other international government agency. “I want to make clear,” said Strickling, “that we will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution.”
However, these and other assurances notwithstanding, there is more than ample cause for the freedom-minded to be concerned about the administration’s Internet policy. On October 1, 2011, President Obama signed the global Internet treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which, among other things, sets up international governing and adjudicating bodies and would allow foreign companies to demand that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) remove web content in the United States without any legal oversight. Typical of his modus operandi, President Obama has attempted to implement this treaty as an executive agreement, in clear violation of our Constitution’s requirement of congressional approval. In addition to ACTA, the Obama White House has also been simultaneously championing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate, both of which contain dangerous ACTA-style censorship and control provisions. Then, of course, there is Presidential Policy Directive 20 (PPD 20), which was secretly implemented by President Obama in October 2012, ostensibly as a security directive against cyberattacks. The American people didn’t find out about it until June 2013, when PPD 20 was leaked by Edward Snowden.
But the threat to freedom in cyberspace does not emanate only from the Obama White House and the United Nations. As with virtually every other effort to expand “global governance” over some vital aspect of our lives — energy, air, fresh water, oceans, forests, firearms, education, medicine — there is the usual convergence of socialist, communist, and authoritarian regimes with globalist think tanks, multinational corporations, and tax-exempt foundations, all aiming to centralize control over the Internet. Specifically, leading the charge in this push for control are the Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA), also known as Chatham House, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), also known as Pratt House, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Trilateral Commission, and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Soros Foundations.
In an essay entitled “The Strategic Significance of the Internet Commons,” former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff describes cyberspace and the Internet as a “global commons” that must come under “global governance.” The article by Chertoff (a Trilateral Commission member) was published in the Summer 2014 issue of Strategic Studies Quarterly, a journal published by the Air Force Research Institute. In it, Chertoff writes:
Cyberspace, much like the high seas, air, outer space, and Antarctica should be viewed as the newest global commons…. Cyberspace is a strategic resource that is essential to today’s global economy yet poses unprecedented risk and vulnerability. Like the development of global governance for the high seas and outer space, cyberspace needs global governance that preserves its freedom and openness while strengthening its security to protect the shared economic and utility value of all nations.
Chertoff & Chatham
Former DHS Secretary Chertoff (who now heads the high-powered Chertoff Group consultancy) is especially fond of the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), citing it several times as the model for dealing with the cyberspace global commons. This is revealing, inasmuch as LOST has been a cauldron of controversy for decades, since it would: a) challenge the sovereignty of our inland and coastal waters; b) give the UN pretended legal authority over “all ocean space”; c) give the UN a huge constant revenue stream from seabed mineral rights and sea lane taxes; d) subject our naval operations to UN interference; and much more.
Chertoff seems to speak with authority on this subject by virtue of the fact that he sits on the impressive-sounding Global Commission on Internet Governance. Sounds very official and important, right? So it might be fair to ask who commissioned this commission.
According to a press release from Chatham House on January 22 of this year:
Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, will chair a new Global Commission on Internet Governance, launched by The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).
The Royal Institute of International Affairs is the British cabal of globalists who serve as the de facto governing class of the U.K., in much the same manner that its New York-based sister house, the Council on Foreign Relations, operates here in the United States.
Bildt serves on the International Advisory Board of the CFR. Another CFR luminary serving on the new Global Commission on Internet Governance is Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Spence, author of The Next Convergence. And another is Joseph Nye, professor and former dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, former chair of the National Intelligence Council, current executive director at the CFR, and current North American chairman of the Trilateral Commission. As we’ve already noted, Chertoff is also a member of the Trilateral Commission, a very rarified group of one-worlders organized by David Rockefeller (former chairman of the board and current honorary chairman of the CFR, as well as founder and current honorary chairman of the Trilateral Commission). The CFR, RIIA, and Trilateral Commission form the top tier of globalist think tanks promoting world government. Notable allied outfits in this effort include the Brookings Institution, Aspen Institute, Peterson Institute, Club of Rome, Club of Madrid, Rand Corporation (of which Bildt is also a trustee), and a host of the big foundations, such as Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Gates, Soros, Hewlett, et al.
Not surprisingly, Chertoff’s views concerning Internet governance fit nicely with his un-American views of “homeland security.” In 2012, he co-chaired the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group, which produced a report entitled “Homeland Security and Intelligence: Next Steps in Evolving the Mission.” As to be expected, the Chertoff-led Aspen report advocated for evolution in the direction of centralized, nationalized control of police functions. That is always a given, for in the CFR-RIIA worldview, power — political and economic — must always “evolve” (with plenty of helpful pushes, shoves, and brow beatings by the CFR thought cartel) toward more concentrated and centralized power, first by breaking down checks and balances and transferring authority from the local to the national level, and then from the national to the regional and global levels.
Chertoff is getting an assist in this effort from former CIA Director General Michael Hayden, a CFR member, who is a principal of the Chertoff Group. General Hayden served as a member of the CFR’s Advisory Committee that helped produce the Council Special Report No. 56 entitled “Internet Governance in an Age of Cyber Insecurity.” The report was a project of the CFR’s International Institutions and Global Governance program, an ongoing project that is ever pushing for more centralized, concentrated global government.
Globalists, Socialists Unite
Among the many other key CFR hands in the Internet governance game are Senator John D. “Jay” Rockefeller and technology/investment guru Esther Dyson. Rockefeller is enthusiastic over the internationalizing of the Internet, stating,
Since 1998 the U.S. has been committed to transitioning management of the Internet’s domain name system to an independent entity that reflects the broad diversity of the global Internet community. This is the next phase in this transition.
Esther Dyson served, along with General Hayden, on the Advisory Committee that produced the above-mentioned CFR report. But Dyson’s role goes much deeper — she was the founding chairwoman of ICANN when it was established in 1998 to take over the Internet domain roots. And although she often is described as “an entrepreneur and philanthropist,” like many of her fellow global corporatist elites, she has an affinity for authoritarian (and totalitarian) regimes. Dyson, for instance, is a major investor in Russian tech companies and a big promoter of Skolkovo, Russia’s effort to build a competitor to America’s Silicon Valley.
We reported on Dyson’s infatuation with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin’s sock puppet, in an August 5, 2010 article entitled “‘Breathing Pixie Dust’ Investing in Russia”:
“Maybe I’m breathing the same pixie dust, but there’s real momentum for this,” says Esther Dyson, in a June 25 online article forForeign Policy magazine reporting on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to California’s Silicon Valley. Dyson, a globally celebrated technology guru, is a major promoter of Skolkovo, the ambitious project near Moscow that Kremlin leaders intend to make into a high-tech research and production center.
A one-time member of the Skolkovo advisory board, Dyson is the founder of EDventure holdings, which has invested heavily in Russian start-up companies. She sits on the advisory board of AmBAR, the American Business Association of Russian-speaking Professionals, which organized a major summit of American venture capital investors in Russia this past May. Dyson and AmBAR also were involved in facilitating Medvedev’s tech-shopping trip to the United States in June.
We also noted in the same article that Dyson had been appointed to the Presidential IT Advisory Council of Bulgaria, by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, who, like Putin and so many “former” communists now in power in central and eastern Europe, is a veteran “Chekist,” a member of the secret police. But CFR/RIIA globalists such as Bildt, Dyson, Hayden, Rockefeller, et al., have never had a problem consorting with tyrants.
It is worth noting that the venue chosen by the RIIA for its press release announcing the launch of the Global Commission on Internet Governance was the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. WEF/Davos is that annual glamorous soirée of globalist billionaires, bankers, butchers, dictators, politicians, and academics where the CFR-RIIA elites of the capitalist world hobnob and network with their communist and socialist counterparts. Thus the subsequent explosion of activity and propaganda in favor of “global governance” for the Internet.
The timing of the RIIA announcement at the WEF was not accidental. The organized one-worlders targeted 2014 as the critical year to advance their agenda to seize the Internet with the NETmundial conference in Brazil in March, the IGF summit in Istanbul in September, and the ITU conference in South Korea in October-November.
At the Istanbul summit, the WEF proposed that its elite “grass tops” membership is the perfect partner for the “grassroots” activist organizations supporting an open, transparent, freedom-promoting Internet. It is noteworthy that “grass tops” is a term the WEF has adopted to describe the cozy relationship that its uber-rich elites enjoy with the street activists.
Alan Marcus, head of IT and telecommunications industries at the World Economic Forum, told IGF participants that the WEF-ICANN NETmundial initiative is intended to “bring our ‘grass tops’ community to the issues of internet governance,” and “bring their resources and identifying solutions and convening coalitions around those solutions to move some of our collective challenges forward.”
Of course, many of the so-called grassroots groups attending the IGF summit are actually “AstroTurf” organizations that already are financial beneficiaries of the WEF “resources” to which Marcus made reference. The WEF is based in Geneva, Switzerland, which makes for easy collaboration between its grasstops members and the multitude of UN agencies headquartered in that city, including the International Telecommunications Union.
The September IGF confab in Istanbul was noteworthy on several other accounts, not the least of which is the irony (or mockery) in selecting Turkey for the venue. After all, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, embroiled in one scandal after another, has resorted to extreme repressive measures to prevent exposure of its corruption via the Internet and social media. Turkey’s notorious Law No. 5651 on the Struggle Against the Crimes Committed on the Internet has been used to block YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Blogger, and, reportedly, thousands of other websites. According to the liberal-left Freedom House, the government of Turkey also is “the world’s leading jailer of journalists.”
But the despot pedigree of the IGF conference didn’t begin and end merely with the host country. Befitting an event sponsored by the UN, the Istanbul Internet Governance Forum was presided over by Wu Hongbo, under-secretary-general of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Comrade Hongbo, besides representing the UN, ultimately answers to his real bosses in Beijing, the leaders of the Communist Party of China. The communist Beijing regime, of course, is notorious for brutal repression of all human rights, including rigid censorship and aggressive policing of the Internet. Under-Secretary-General Hongbo issued the UN’s official invitation for the IGF confab “on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” Ban Ki-moon.
Comrade Hongbo had plenty of help at the IGF from fellow Communist Party members, who attended as “official participants,” as well as members of the IGF’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG). China’s representation includes Professor Liang Guo of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Lee Xiaodong, CEO of CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center, an agency of China’s Ministry of Information); and Chen Hongbing, China’s permanent representative to the UN office in Geneva. These are the folks that have helped build and maintain China’s shameful “Great Firewall” that the communist regime uses to spy on, censor, restrict, and police Internet usage.
In addition, there is the High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms, which has had a huge hand in forming the agenda for the IGF. Among its members is Liu Qingfeng, director of the National Speech & Language Engineering Laboratory of China.
Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin had their representatives at the IGF/Istanbul as well. One of them was Robert Aleksandrovich Schlegel, a member of Russia’s State Duma, where he is deputy chairperson of the Committee on Physical Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs. Schlegel is also a spokesman for the Russian Internet Governance Forum, where his official bio unabashedly admits (or perhaps boasts) that he was press director of the “Nashi” movement, Putin’s version of the Hitler Youth.
So, American taxpayers should be happy to know that Secretary of State John Kerry (CFR) was so impressed with the potential of this conference that he allocated $350,000 to the IGF to boost their “reform” effort.
“As part of the United States efforts to ensure a continued open, interoperable, and secure Internet through global, multistakeholder participation, the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs is providing $350,000 as a one-time contribution for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) from its 2012 International Organizations and Programs (IO&P) budget,” the Department said in a press release.
Lest one may think that the Istanbul IGF conference was a one-off, unique affair, as far as providing a venue that is unfriendly to freedom is concerned, consider the 2012 IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan, hosted by the ultra-repressive regime of Ilham Aliyev. Aliyev inherited his position as “president” from his father, Heydar Aliyev, the KGB chief and Communist Party dictator of Azerbaijan under the old Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, Schlegel, Hongbo, Xiaodong, and others of similar ilk are not rare outliers; they are representative of the prevailing makeup of the UN, the IGF, and the Internet governance “reform” effort. One of the most ominous signals that this UN-led effort is fatally tilted against freedom is the dominance of the process by leaders of the Socialist International, which traces its lineage to the First International founded by Karl Marx.
The Socialist International (SI) is a massive, globe-straddling organization of 168 political parties and organizations from all continents, including 60 member parties that currently are running national governments. Its members are completely at home inside the United Nations and are comfortable collaborating with representatives of communist regimes. In fact, many Communist Parties of the former Soviet bloc have simply renamed themselves (as socialists or democrats) and are now member parties of the SI. Speakers at Socialist International confabs address each other as “comrade,” and the SI still maintains the old Soviet organizational structure, governed at the top by a “Presidium.”
Prominent SI members have dominated many of the UN’s agencies, departments, commissions, and conferences for decades. Currently, former Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson serves as deputy secretary-general at the UN, second only to Ban Ki-moon in the organization’s hierarchy. Eliasson is a member of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, which is a member party of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Socialist International.
Estonian President Toomas Ilves serves as chairman of the aforementioned High-Level Panel on Global Internet Cooperation and Governance Mechanisms. His Estonian Social Democratic Party is a member party of SI, and when Ilves served as a member of the European Parliament, he sat with the Party of European Socialists group. Also on the Panel is Thorbjørn Jagland, former Norwegian prime minister and leader of the Norwegian Labour Party, an SI member party.
The most significant person in the SI orbit regarding “global governance” of the Internet may be High-Level Panel member Nitin Desai. A former UN under-secretary-general and former secretary-general of the UN’s World Summit for Sustainable Development, Desai has been in the forefront of the globalist effort to place the Internet under “international” control. Desai, who was appointed in 2004 by the UN secretary-general to chair the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), has been an active participant in many SI activities. During the 2012 Rio+20 Earth Summit on sustainable development, Desai penned an op-ed attacking the United States for failing to jump on board the UN’s global-warming bandwagon. “The American way of life — and, for that matter, the way of life everywhere — has to be up for negotiation,” opined Desai. “This is because climate change is the mother of all externalities — global, long-term and potentially catastrophic in its impact.”
Other high-level Socialist International agents within the UN system include former Irish President Mary Robinson and former prime minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland. Robinson, who was previously appointed UN high commissioner for human rights (1997-2002), now serves as UN special envoy for climate change. Brundtland, a former SI vice president and former director general of the UN World Health Organization, now, along with Robinson, also draws a lucrative salary as UN special envoy for climate change.
The Socialist International’s many hands are especially evident in the hijacking of Internet “reform” in the service of “sustainable development,” that favorite all-purpose term the United Nations finds ever useful in its efforts to usurp new powers. In 2003, the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society declared its challenge “to harness the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) to promote the development goals of the Millennium Declaration.” Those Millennium Development Goals have been the centerpiece of the UN’s plan for global wealth redistribution for the past decade-and-a-half. Naturally, the high-flying, high-living UN plutocrats intend for the dwindling middle classes of the United States and Europe to foot the bill for this trickle-down program, which, incidentally, will never result in any appreciable level of aid actually trickling down to those genuinely in need.
Despite the continuing rhetoric from the Obama administration and many of the leading advocates of the new “multistakeholder governance” system, the entire future of the Internet has been put in jeopardy. Very clearly, many of the top globalists in our government, the corporate world, and the think tank/foundation world are, for the most part (if not entirely), comfortable with the authoritarian/totalitarian regimes that use the Internet to enforce Orwellian conformity and tyranny. That means that actions taken by netizens to influence Congress in the next weeks and months may well determine whether cyberspace will continue to offer a window of freedom for communication and expression, or whether it will become the new tax and surveillance arm of Global Big Brother.
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