Politicians and companies — including telcos, tech companies, service providers and more — are all quite worried
We’ve been covering how the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has been moving forward with its plans next month to consider a number of proposals to takeover aspects of internet regulation and governance. There are, of course, a number of different proposals being submitted by different countries. The problem, of course, is that the setup of the ITU is not open to the public, and there are some special interests involved — mainly by countries with oppressive governments looking to use this as a way to gain control over the internet for the sake of censorship, as well as local (often state-run or state-associated) telcos using the process to see if they can divert money from successful internet companies to their own bank accounts. While the ITU likes to present itself as merely a neutral meeting place for all of these proposals, what’s been clear for a while is that the ITU leadership has taken an active role in encouraging, cultivating and supporting some of the more egregious proposals.
Some of this is due to the way in which the ITU leadership views the internet. Some of it is due to an organization that realizes its own mandate is obsolete and it really serves little purpose anymore, so it’s coping by pretending its mandate is much broader, but doing so in a way that shows it has little understanding of the internet other than “something we want a mandate over.”
This seems to be one situation where, in the US, pretty much everyone is aligned against this effort. Politicians and companies — including telcos, tech companies, service providers and more — are all quite worried what an ITU-governed internet would lead to (mostly funds being diverted from innovative companies to stagnant players and a much less open internet). But the US has only one vote in the upcoming WCIT event where many of these proposals will be reviewed. ITU boss Hamadoun Toure pretends that the public has a voice in this process, but ridiculously shut down the public commenting tool on the ITU’s website before telling everyone about it (nice trick, that).
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