This page responds to one of the ten recommended laws proposed by C-Net to regulate the Internet.

  The problem:  The World Wide Web is indeed world wide.  Discussion of all of the laws on our list is at some level moot, since any law passed in the United States will be of little effect beyond our national boundaries--and in that case of little effect on the Internet.

The proposal:  "There should be an international governing body for the Internet--that is, a U.N. Net--whose members are empowered to implement Internet policies in their countries."

The survey:  At the time of my visit, 13,922 "netizens" had voted, with 57% supporting the proposal, against 43% opposing it.
Survey says....
  In some ways, this proposal is the cornerstone of the C-Net package; yet it is also the one garnering the least support.

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  Perhaps that surprises them; it does not surprise me.  I am aware that the concept of one world government means so many different things to so many people.  To some, it is the inevitable utopia; to others, the gateway to Armageddon.  There are those who see it as the logical and necessary solution to many problems faced by the world; yet others perceive it as the ultimate assault on the freedom and self-determination of the individual.  Just compare the Federation of Star Trek with the Federation of Blake's 7 (or the Empire of Star Wars), and you'll see the disparity that exists in views of what a unified world government means.

  But it isn't so easy as C-Net suggests.

  Under the Constitution of the United States of America, in order for something to become law it has to be approved by the majority of a hundred Senators, and by the majority of more than five times as many Congressmen.  It then must receive the approval of the President; if it doesn't, it has to go back to those Senators and Congressmen, this time to be approved by at least two-thirds of each group.  Under the complexities of the American political system--independent executive, bicameral legislature--it is frequently the case that groups with very different political ideologies control different stages of the process.  And even after it has gone through all of this and become law, it can still be challenged in the courts any time it is enforced, and determined not to be the law.

  If the law involves international interaction, it's a bit different--not a lot different, but different.  The President, aided by those he chooses to assist him (who must be approved by that legislature), is charged with negotiating all treaties and international agreements.  However, once he has come to an agreement, he has to submit this agreement to the legislature for their approval.  Once it is approved by the legislature, the President may sign it.  But domestic provisions of the treaty are still subject to the full process, including review by the courts, and can be struck down as unconstitutional.

  And any law which tries to bypass this process risks being ruled unconstitutional itself.

  This is the process in only one of the multitude of countries which have to ratify any agreement forged by the proposed U.N. Net.  The days when kings could send ministers to meetings and announce the results in edicts establishing the new law of the land are long gone.  But the desires of nations to maintain their individual sovereignty are still very much with us.  Few of the multi-national regulating bodies of the world work at all, and none work the way they were envisioned.  The proposal is a good idea, but probably not a workable one.

  Yet without it, the rest falls apart.  C-Net is right:  without some way of creating international law to regulate the Internet, there will be almost no law at all.  So I voted for it, because without some kind of multi-national authority to regulate it, the World Wide Web will not be regulated at all.

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