How the UN could ruin the Internet

Other proposals have a similarly power-hungry bent. One is a call to individually identify all Internet users — ideal for an autocrat’s retribution streak and surely on the wish list of every regime that sees the Internet as a metaphysical threat.

Politics aside, the most insidious proposal is one that nations can try on their own, and yet the countries are still seeking a U.N. imprimatur. It’s a proposal, championed by some African countries and India, that introduces a new revenue stream by imposing what amounts to a tax on Web publishers.

That scheme would have a chilling effect. As it stands, I pay for broadband — the door-to-door Internet pipe that gets, say, a Netflix video to my screen. Under the proposed scheme, Netflix would be subject to a new fee if the amount of data it streams (because I ask for it) exceeds some carrier-set bandwidth limit. That would be like sending Netflix the bill when you go over your smartphone Internet plan. It would definitely cause Netflix to rethink a few things.