WCIT Treaty Talks End iin Dubai With Walkout of U.S., Allies

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-12-15 Print this article Print

The 55 countries that refused to sign object both to the ITU having a role in running the Internet and they object especially to the ITU, an agency of the United Nations, having a role in controlling public policy as it relates to the Internet.

According to a document released by the U.S. Department of State, 70 nations in Africa, the Middle East, China and Russia voted in favor of adding the resolution to the treaty. Over 55 countries voted against the change, and have said that they will not sign the treaty.

“We believe these provisions reflect an attempt by some governments to regulate the Internet and its content, potentially paving the way for abuse of power, censorship and repression,” the State Department said in the statement released to eWEEK. “We stand on one of our most cherished of principles, free expression, in not signing this treaty and seeking more positive outcomes in the future that support the open and innovative Internet. We believe an open Internet also is important for commercial growth in all parts of the world.”

Ambassador Kramer explained what this all means from the U.S. viewpoint in his closing speech to the WCIT, which was provided to eWEEK by a State Department spokesperson. “There are a number of issues that were critical to the United States in these negotiations. Number one, recognized operating agencies versus operating agencies. The United States consistently sought to clarify that the treaty would not apply to internet service providers or governments or private network operators.

“Number two, spam. The United States position remains that spam is a form of content and that regulating it inevitably opens the door to regulation of other forms of content, including political and cultural speech.

“Number three, network security. The United States continues to believe that the ITRs are not a useful venue for addressing security issues and cannot accede to vague commitments that would have significant implications but few practical improvements on security.

“Number four, internet governance. In several proposals, it was clear that some administrations were seeking to insert government control over Internet governance, specifically Internet naming and addressing functions. We continue to believe these issues can only be legitimately handled through multi-stakeholder organizations.

“And finally, number five, the Internet resolution. This document represented a direct extension of scope into the internet and of the ITU’s role therein despite earlier assertions from Secretary General Hamadoun Toure that the WCIT would not address internet issues.”

In other words, the U.S. was true to its word. When the ITU decided it wanted to govern the Internet, the U.S. and its allies stepped in to prevent it. While 70 countries signed the treaty, there’s nothing they can do to enforce it and nothing they can do to make it happen without the U.S. Basically, in a last minute attempt at a power grab, the ITU shot itself in the foot.


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