A leaked document has shown that the United Nations plans to debate a plan in February that would see the biggest sites on the internet pay charges because of the large amount of bandwidth they use. The plan would effect firms like Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
The move, which was introduced by the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association, would apply to large US content providers and charge them for providing content to users outside the United States. The move will be discussed by the International Telecommunication Union, which is a body within the United Nations.
The move, which is being pushed by the large European data carriers, has caused much outcry among politicians and those that know the tech industry. It would form a complete change to the way in which the internet is used and could have disastrous effects world wide.
The only major beneficiaries would be the carriers while millions would suffer from the resultant structure. The creation of a structure by which internet companies have to pay to reach their users could completely cut off users in countries where there is little revenue generation.
This means the developing world would suffer disproportionately if the plan were to be enforced. Removing the internet as a tool in poorer countries where it has done so much good in the last ten years could be disastrous for the future of many in those countries.
It would also raise questions about government control ans censorship of the internet. The plan will be debated alongside numerous others from countries around the world that could result in the internet becoming a very different place. Last week both Republican and Democratic members of Congress cried out against the moves.
This tax would create a repressive stranglehold on the internet that would slow down innovation and reduce the globalism of internet services. It would affect the poor disproportionately and increase problems in the developing world.
That having been said it is extremely unlikely that any of these proposals will be adopted and if adopted even less likely they will be enforced. The United Nations has little power to enforce laws around the word as can be seen from the organization’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is breached constantly.
Legislation tracking and controlling the internet will be a hard sell to many member States and the United States in particular. International control of the internet is unlikely this Winter. What this move does show however is that there are many who wish for that control and vigiliance is key in keeping them from it.