Robert Mugabe: Internet expert

Comic relief time. Robert Mugabe made a ponderous speech to WSIS on the subject of “How Western states abuse the Internet”. Zimbabwe was concerned, he said,

that information communication technology (ICT) continues to be used negatively – mainly by developed countries – to undermine national sovereignty, social and cultural values.

The President also challenged the still undemocratic issue of Internet governance, saying one or two countries insisted on being world policemen on the management and administration of the Internet, a worldwide network of computers which facilitates data transmission and exchange.

The admiring report of his speech in the Harare Herald (written by the appropriately named Innocent Gore) goes on to say that

the Internet was developed by an American company called Internet Corporation on Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the company managed it in consultation with the United States Department of Commerce.

Developing countries were proposing that this function be managed by an inter-governmental authority, but the US government was against such an arrangement as this would result in it losing control of the Internet and all revenue associated with the information superhighway.

African countries wanted the composition and role of the present governing body to be a fully representative authority and wanted to be accorded the opportunity to actively participate in international organisations dealing with Internet governance.

Truly, you couldn’t make this up. I wonder if the aforementioned Innocent is by any chance related to Al Gore, who famously once claimed to have invented the Internet.

I particularly like Mugabe’s concern about the “still undemocratic issue of Internet governance”. Myself, I am concerned about the still undemocratic issue of Zimbabwean governance.

[Thanks to Richard Synge for the link.]

Correction… Bill Thompson writes to say that Al Gore never made that assertion. It was, he says, “a slander put about by the Republicans – see Seth Finkelstein’s analysis“.