The group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has, by all appearances, a worthwhile goal, which is to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. To accomplish this, it often puts pressure on private companies to divest from Iran, both directly and through any subsidiaries or affiliated business that might do business there. By and large, this is clearly the free exercise of economic power to try to bring about social change, something I generally support. I could say a few things about the long-term wisdom of tarring an entire nation of people with a history and culture spanning millennia based on the oft-psychotic behavior of a 33-year-old regime, but let’s focus on UANI’s latest campaign instead.
According to a UANI press release dated September 18, 2012:
On Tuesday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) launched its World Wide Web campaign, and called on both the Internet Corporate for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE) to disconnect the Internet access of sanction-designated Iranian entities such as its Central Bank and its military’s engineering arm.
ICANN is the nonprofit corporation that has the authority to designate and assign domain names on the World Wide Web. RIPE performs a similar service in Europe. UANI sent letters to both agencies on September 7, demanding that they cease providing services to “sanction-designated Iranian entities.” This may work as a public relations move, but it has multiple problems, not least of which is the fact that ICANN and RIPE can’t just turn off a spigot and cut Iran off. UANI seems to be suggesting cutting off specific Iranian entities included on the sanctions list, but it could never work that way. John Levine, a writer for the internet technology journal CircleID, calls the idea that ICANN or RIPE could just cut Iran off “ridiculous”: Continue reading