Authoritarian States ‘Want to Control People’ by Censoring Internet: ICANN

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 23: Hundreds of supporters of Mark Meechan aka Count Dankul
Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Authoritarian governments across the world are looking to censor the Internet in order to “control people”, a senior official from ICANN has said.

David Huberman, a senior official within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has accused authoritarian governments across the globe of looking to fracture the Internet in the hopes of controlling people.

Legally registered as an NGO, ICANN is responsible for making the international system of IP addresses function correctly, with the organisation describing itself as being “dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable”.

Those within the organisation are now claiming that authoritarian governments are starting to get in the way of this goal, with Huberman telling the Cloudfest industry meeting in Germany that some states now aim to cut up the Internet in order to better control their populations.

“The potential fragmentation of the Internet is a worrying topic,” Der Spiegel reports the expert as saying, before discussing the impact that such governments could have on the Internet.

“They are authoritarian governments that want to control their people,” he said.

Although Huberman did not name any individual nation-states in particular as being involved in this effort to undermine the net, the report published by Der Spiegel goes on to name China, Iran, and Russia as being the three countries tech experts are primarily focused on.

However, many governments in the West are also now jumping on the bandwagon of splitting off and censoring the Internet, with authorities in the United Kingdom and European Union in particular now regularly taking potshots at the free transmission of information online.

Authorities in Brussels have so far been the most active in forcing Internet censorship on the people, blocking its citizens from accessing a number of Russian news outlets online in March last year.

Such material can now only be accessed by those residing within the bloc through use of a virtual private network (VPN), similar to how those living within Communist China must use such services to access many Western websites and media outlets.

Politicians in the United Kingdom appear to be just as keen on implementing widespread Internet censorship, with the country’s planned Online Safety Bill set to hand regulators widespread powers to force social media firms to censor content deemed to problematic.

As of the time of writing, such targets of censorship will range from already highly illegal content such as child pornography to perfectly legal material that simply upsets the progressive sensibilities of those ruling Britain.

The planned censorship regime has been widely panned by various tech firms as being set to end Internet privacy in the UK, with the bill set to render end-to-end encryption effectively illegal by mandating chat apps spy on their userbase using AI to make sure they are not doing anything illegal.

Multiple apps, including Signal and WhatsApp, have now threatened that they will withdraw their services entirely from the country should the bill become law, saying that the measures would completely compromise security and privacy on their platforms.

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