The end of the Internet as we know it?

The world isn't ending, but the future of the Internet may be up for grabs at next week's meeting of the World Conference on International Telecommunications

This just in: Apparently the world is not going to end on Dec. 21 after all. According to NASA, the notion that the Mayan calendar -- which ends four days before Christmas -- spells doom and destruction for all of humankind was a bit off. It seems another Mayan calendar kicks in after the first one runs out.

Yes, the scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency took time from their busy schedule of watching live footage from the Mars Rover Curiosity to assure us that rogue planet Nibiru is not going to strike the Earth in three weeks and turn us all into atomized human confetti. (So much for blowing off my diet.)

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Per the NASA FAQ:

Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye.

I just wish NASA could be as calmly reassuring about the future of the Internet. Next week the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) is convening in Dubai to modernize the 1988 international treaty on telecommunications. This has some folks worried that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) might attempt to impose global regulations on the Internet.

Google was concerned enough to sponsor a day-long forum on the topic this week at Stanford Law School, and the company has created a Take Action site to try and rile the tweet-happy meme-sucking masses. Two researchers at George Mason University have launched, a wiki for people to anonymously share documents and proposals to be considered at the closed-door meetings.

Yesterday, in an attempt to quell everyone's fears, the ITU issued an "invitation" to all 193 member countries "to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites."

Gee, I wonder if Syria got that memo.

Folks who are nervous about what the ITU may decide next week point to an International Code of Conduct proposed by Russia, China, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which included the following somewhat menacing provision:

Each State voluntarily subscribing to this Code pledges... to cooperate in combating criminal and terrorist activities which use ICTs including networks, and curbing dissemination of information which incites terrorism, secessionism, extremism or undermines other countries' political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment.

Hey political protestors, you're undermining my spiritual and cultural environment -- it's off to Gitmo for you. When former communists and a bunch of guys named Stan agree on something, that's almost never a good sign.

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