Fears of a UN-managed Internet have again reached a fevered pitch, some of the worries based on little more than hot air and scare mongering from partisans
, and some it based on actual reality. Countries do want a less U.S.-centric governance system than ICANN -- but time and time again the International Telecommunications Union (the part of the UN supposedly supposedly tasked with this menacing but incorporeal power grab) has stated they don't want to run the Internet.
What do they want? In a speech this week the ITU made it clear what they want to act as a plaything for international phone company lobbyists.
In a speech this week at ITU headquarters in Geneva
, ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré again repeated the ITU does not want to run the Internet, but they do want to "update regulations" that will help counter an "infrastructure investment shortfall." In short, international phone companies, who've long wanted content companies to pay troll tolls to fund network expansion
, have planted a malicious bug in the ITU's ear and appear to have convinced them that their unsound logic (that content companies must pay an extra toll for no reason) must now be a matter of international policy.
As such, Ars Technica's
Cyrus Farivar correctly deduces that the ITU's motivation to shift rules around appears focused on simply making phone companies more money
. We've seen similar rhetoric used for the repeatedly-debunked Exaflood
, or when AT&T CEO Ed Whitace set off a net neutrality firestorm by insisting content companies shouldn't be allowed to "ride his pipes for free
The rhetoric Touré uses sounds very familiar to the nonsense used by phone industry executives who've tried to con regulators into protectionist laws or new subsidies using a bogus "capacity crisis." The ITU appears to be drawing vague and unsubstantiated parallels between obnoxious and unnecessary new transit tolls (where a levy is imposed on a content company) and backbone operator interconnection agreements. From the ITU:
As the industry has pointed out, data volumes are increasing much faster than the infrastructure needed to carry it, and there is currently a risk of an infrastructure investment shortfall. The revised [International Telecommunications Regulations, to be discussed at the December WCIT meeting in Dubai] should therefore help to encourage broadband roll-out and investment. They should emphasize the importance of liberalization and privatization, and should recognize the role of the private sector and market-based solutions. At the same time as data volumes are increasing, unit prices are declining, so total revenues for telecommunications operators are potentially at risk. As a result, some have said that there is a need to address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate way to do so."
It's just another version of the "Exaflood," or the telecom lobbyist argument that phone companies should be subsidized or less regulated lest the Internet implode. The most "appropriate way" to shore up this "investment shortfall" would then of course be for ISPs to charge content companies a "troll toll" to run their content over carrier networks for absolutely no sane reason. This of is precisely the kind of absurd phone executive thinking than triggered the net neutrality debate -- it has now simply moved from the yes-men infected meeting rooms of U.S. phone companies, into the corridors of the United Nations.
In other words, let international phone companies and the ITU impose new completely unnecessary transit tolls on content traffic or the Exaflood will eat your children.