Confirmed: Majority of UN member nations aren't big on freedom of information

The United States and an alliance of Western democracies spoke up against Russia, Iran, China, and others’ proposals to restrict the ease with which the Internet currently operates across international borders during the United Nations’ telecom conference over the past couple of weeks, but it was apparently too little, too late. Funnily enough, it turns out that the many authoritarian and oppressive regimes that belong to that oh-so-august body of international ‘peacekeepers’ are actually pretty much fine with cutting down on their people’s freedom of speech and access to information.

Gordon Crovitz aptly calls the whole thing a sort of Digital Cold War, and unfortunately, the more nefarious world powers that be just won that particular battle, at least in part:

At the just-concluded conference of the International Telecommunications Union in Dubai, the U.S. and its allies got outmaneuvered. …A majority of the 193 United Nations member countries approved a treaty giving governments new powers to close off access to the Internet in their countries. …

The result was 89 countries in favor, with 55 against. The authoritarian majority included Russia, China, Arab countries, Iran and much of Africa. Under the rules of the ITU, the treaty takes effect in 2015 for these countries. Countries that opposed it are not bound by it, but Internet users in free countries will also suffer as global networks split into two camps—one open, one closed.

The U.S. delegation never understood this conference was fundamentally a battle in what might be called the Digital Cold War. Russia and China had long been lobbying for votes, but U.S. opposition got serious only at the conference itself. …

Well, that’s nice — China gets the United Nations’ esteemed blessing to keep doing what they’ve been doing and other oppressive regimes have the go-ahead to follow suit. Remind me, why are we still providing funding for this forum for the legitimization of dictators and freedom-crushers?