Lots of worried voices have claimed that various large corporations such as Microsoft, Google, or others would restrict the freedom of the exchange of information on the Internet.
I have always considered these worries silly – and I will always count the people with a hardwired corporation-phobia to be hardcore communists. In particular, none of the IT or communication corporations has ever had a sufficient monopoly to stop the flow of the information – and most of the largest ones are literally motivated to support as diverse ways of exchanging the information as possible because their profit really boils down to these processes.
The free market works, stupid.
But here is a similar threat I find much more credible. Between December 3rd and December 14th, there will be a conference of the ITU, the 1865 International Telegraph Union (that changed the middle word to "Telecommunication" to create the illusion that its core has been modernized but it has not) which became a U.N. agency, in Dubai.
A majority vote behind the closed door may bring a radical power grab which could seriously cripple the freedom of the online exchange of information.
You may sign a Google Petition against the possible ITU power grab.
It may look like the civilized countries generally oppose the undesirable developments. For example, The European Parliament voted in advance to block an ITU power grab. But those things won't be decided by the European lawmakers.
The idea of a majority U.N.-style vote about important questions such as the freedom on the Internet looks somewhat worrisome to me. It's very easy to imagine that the anti-freedom-on-the-Internet countries represent a majority in the United Nations. Start with the obvious hardcore villains such as China and Iran and add softer governments of a remotely similar kind such as Russia. You may surround them with pretty much all the countries in the Muslim world, almost the whole remainder of Africa, some of their allies in Latin America, and so on. I think you will easily find out that the villains enjoy a majority in the U.N.
Now, when those folks get a majority U.N. support for such a similar plan, will the Western world's governments be sufficiently assertive to reject all truly sick policies (government approval of websites, custom duty or tariffs, and so on) that the coalition around China, Iran, and Russia could prefer? Will they really clearly say that they're ready to wage a nuclear war against the villains to protect the freedom on the most important information infrastructure of the early 21st century? They definitely should. But there are so many people who are hysterically afraid of a nuclear war that they could just prefer to say OK to the Chinese and Iranian comrades.
These mysterious villains behind the closed doors – and not the corporations skillfully controlled by the almost always beneficial invisible hand of the free markets – is what your humble correspondent is kind of afraid of.