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  • On this episode of China Uncensored,

  • with China playing a bigger role,

  • what will the Internet become?

  • Hi, welcome to China Uncensored,

  • I'm your host Chris Chappell.

  • The Internet!

  • Some of you watching may not have even been alive

  • at a time when the Internet wasn't everywhere.

  • But I remember such a time.

  • When computers were mysterious novelties,

  • completely misunderstood by popular media.

  • What's your preference?

  • Apple, Pear, Wang?

  • Oh listen, I don't know anything about computers?

  • Nobody does!

  • Electric Dreams was popular, right?

  • Anyway, the world has now changed in weird, wild ways.

  • Because Internet.

  • But at the beginning,

  • no one really knew what to do with computers.

  • Other than, you know

  • designing your own woman.

  • Okay, look.

  • You know how you're always talking about how you can

  • simulate all that stuff on your computer?

  • You know?

  • What's the difference,

  • why can't we simulate a girl?

  • The 80s were magnificent.

  • But clearly at that time,

  • no one really could predict

  • where this whole Internet thing was going.

  • Although it is largely still about finding the perfect woman.

  • Anyway, the point is, 20 years ago,

  • the Internet was still developing.

  • And so in 1998

  • the US government helped create the Los Angeles based non-profit,

  • ICANN.

  • To put it very simply,

  • there's a department of ICANN that's in charge

  • of the Internet's address book.

  • It makes sure users get to the website

  • they intend to visit.

  • Like when you type in YouTube.com,

  • it sends you to YouTube's website

  • so you don't have to type in the long string of numbers

  • which is YouTube's actual IP address.

  • It's like how you don't bother remembering

  • your mom's phone number anymore

  • because you can just go to your phone's Contacts

  • and click her name.

  • But you use ICANN way more than you call your mother.

  • ICANN is like if the entire world shared Contacts

  • for Internet addresses.

  • That's really important because

  • whoever controls the Internet's address book

  • also has the ability to censor the Internet.

  • Let's say ICANN removes the domain name youtube.com.

  • YouTube itself may still exist,

  • but would you know what numbers to type in

  • to get there?

  • 99.9% of people wouldn't be able to access it.

  • So ICANN is really important.

  • As the Economist puts it,

  • That is why,

  • as the internet grew up,

  • America decided not to hand control to the United Nations

  • or another international body steered by governments.”

  • But for the most part,

  • the US government has been pretty much hands off,

  • which let the Internet thrive

  • as the global depository of cat videos

  • we know today.

  • But something changed this past Saturday.

  • Because the US let its contract with ICANN expire.

  • As of October 1,

  • it will be run on a “multi-stakeholder model.”

  • In other words,

  • a “mix of corporate interests, government officials,

  • activists and experts

  • spread across four international bodies.”

  • Whew, this is getting complicated!

  • Can we go back to the old days for a bit?

  • Much better

  • You see,

  • the Internet was never meant to have a central authority.

  • And the less say that governments have,

  • the more free the Internet, right?

  • After all,

  • there are 3.6 billion Internet users,

  • so of course

  • the vast majority are outside the US.

  • And after Edward Snowden revealed

  • that the NSA was spying on the global Internet,

  • a lot of people called for the US

  • to give up control.

  • So did a lot of

  • major technology and telecommunication companies.

  • So the US did give up control.

  • Well, not completely.

  • the US will still have one seat

  • on ICANN's 171-member Governmental Advisory Committee.

  • In other words,

  • the US's position on the committee

  • will be theoretically equal

  • to a country like Barbados,

  • a country you think about so little,

  • that you didn't even notice that's not Barbados.

  • This is Barbados.

  • Oh, that is fun! No wonder John Oliver can't stop doing it

  • No wonder John Oliver can't stop doing it!

  • But just because Barbados has a population smaller than Wichita, Kansas

  • doesn't mean it shouldn't have an equal say

  • over how the Internet gets run.

  • But that's not the whole picture,

  • since in reality,

  • not all countries have equally small stakes

  • in how the Internet will be run.

  • Actually,

  • the US will still have lots of sway.

  • But you know who else does?

  • China.

  • A country I talk about so much,

  • you were wondering when I was going to get to it.

  • You see, China

  • or Chinese authorities to be precise

  • are very happy about the US giving up its control.

  • As one Chinese cyber security professor said,

  • China has the capability now

  • to set up international rules for cyberspace

  • and use our strategy and our rules

  • to influence the world.”

  • I mean,

  • who wouldn't want China's Internet rules

  • to apply to the entire world?

  • I mean, first of all,

  • we'd get actual Internet police.

  • But that's just some professor

  • saying that's the plan.

  • I mean,

  • it's paranoid delusion to imagine

  • that China is actually considering setting up

  • its own rules in cyberspace.

  • Except that,

  • according to another guy,

  • China is considering setting up

  • its own rules in cyberspace.”

  • And that other guy is the Premier of China,

  • Li Keqiang.

  • So, maybe there is something to the idea

  • that the Communist Party might be trying to influence

  • the global Internet.

  • It's pretty well known the Chinese regime

  • has kept a tight grip on China's Internet

  • with two million people employed to police it,

  • so they can monitor what Chinese citizens do and say.

  • They also block access to websites

  • they consider subversive.

  • Like YouTube.

  • But over the past few years,

  • the Chinese regime been pushing to control the world's Internet

  • by filling the void left by the United States

  • as it steps back from ICANN.

  • But how?

  • Isn't there thatmulti-stakeholder model?”

  • Well, the Chinese regime has gotten pretty good

  • at manipulating international bodies

  • and foreign tech companies,

  • like the ones that will now oversee ICANN.

  • Take, for instance,

  • China's Technical Committee 260,

  • or TC260.

  • It was founded in 2002.

  • Yeah,

  • so they've been secretly planning this

  • for a long time.

  • China has been using the TC260 in part

  • toactively participate

  • in international rules and standards making in cyberspace,

  • so as to improve discourse and China's influence

  • and increase international adoption of China's standards.”

  • Now if the name TC260 sounds a bit like ED-209 from RoboCop,

  • well,

  • that's a not too far off.

  • Think of it like an ED-209

  • designed to make internet policy

  • instead ofurban pacification.”

  • The TC260 helps draft laws that focus on encryption,

  • big data,

  • and other cybersecurity issues.

  • And as the Wall Street Journal says,

  • it makes sure technology issecure and controllable.”

  • Secure and controllable?

  • By the CCP?

  • That doesn't sound too good.

  • But wait!

  • The TC260 is not just the CCP.

  • It's a committee.

  • Foreign tech companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and IBM

  • are members.

  • Surely,

  • they will help China move in the right direction

  • in terms of Internet freedom.

  • Except,

  • many companies in the West

  • get a little funny when access to the Chinese market

  • is dangled in front of them.

  • Like when IBM caved to pressure from the Chinese regime

  • and gave one of the world's biggest violators of Intellectual Property

  • access to their source code.

  • Or when Cisco sold routers to China

  • with the intention of helping the regime censor its citizens.

  • So my guess is these companies

  • aren't really going to change China,

  • as much as China is going to change them.

  • Anyway,

  • if you're worried about the TC260

  • drafting scary big brother Internet regulations

  • well, yeah.

  • But those regulations only apply to people inside China.

  • However,

  • the TC260 is also part of a broader plan

  • by Chinese authorities to exert control over the world's Internet.

  • The TC260 reports directly to the Cyberspace Administration of China.

  • And the Cyberspace Administration of China

  • just happens to report directly to report directly

  • to the Leading Small Group for Network Security and Information,

  • which is chaired by the leader of the Chinese Communist Party,

  • Xi Jinping.

  • In other words,

  • the TC260 ultimately reports to the head of the Communist Party.

  • And its goal is to influence international rules and standards for the Internet.

  • And that's just one example

  • of how the CCP is trying to influence Internet policy.

  • There's also a sort of related organization

  • called the CyberSecurity Association of China.

  • Its goal is to strengthen the CCP's control over China's Internet,

  • including how foreign companies can operate in China.

  • But while the CyberSecurity Association

  • has representatives from Chinese companies like Alibaba,

  • it has no foreign companies among its members.

  • Oh,

  • and its chairman is this guy

  • who created the Great Firewall of China.

  • So suffice it to say,

  • it's not pro-Internet freedom.

  • And its Secretary General is Li Yuxiao,

  • who once said this:

  • Now is the time for China

  • to realize its responsibilities.

  • If the United States is willing to give up its running of the internet sphere,

  • the question comes as to who will take the baton

  • and how it would be run.”

  • So if all of this seems a bit complicated,

  • it is.

  • That's the point.

  • The Chinese regime doesn't want people figuring it out.

  • And that's how,

  • under the radar,

  • the Chinese regime has spent a long time

  • carefully designing ways to influence the groups

  • that will be overseeing ICANN,

  • the world's Internet address book

  • that all of us use everyday.

  • Does the Chinese regime control the global Internet now?