dslreports logo

story category
U.S., Others Refuse to Sign Off on New ITU Rules
Argue Some Wording Opens Door to Censorship
by Karl Bode 11:13AM Friday Dec 14 2012
The debate this week over the ITU's "attempt to take over the Internet" via a meeting this week in Dubai has been a bizarre combination of hyperbolic American xenophobia, fascist censorship pipe dreams and European telco bluster. Long-winded debates this week ended with an update to 24-year-old United Nations telecommunications rules the United States unsurprisingly says they won't be signing off on. The rules are non-binding an can be largely ignored by individual governments.

Click for full size
That 193 nations couldn't see eye to eye on Internet governance is not particularly surprising, nor is most of those nations wanting a little more say in Internet governance. Overall however, ICANN (and by proxy the U.S.) control of key governance remains intact, and much of the fears of a total and massive ITU global Internet takeover were, as we noted, rather ridiculously overblown.

Still, the United States was joined by Canada, Denmark, Australia, Norway, Costa Rica, Serbia, Greece, and Finland in refusing to sign off on the rules under fear that some language changes could be pointed at by certain countries to justify censorship. Not that governments intent on poor behavior need much justification anyway.

In a blog post, the White House reasonably argued that they simply won't accept any rule changes that expand ITU authority from straight infrastructure into the realm of content management:
But we should not confuse telecommunications infrastructure with the information that traverses it. The global consensus for a free and open Internet is overwhelming. Millions in the United States and around the world have already added their voices to this conversation, and their position is clear: they do not want the WCIT to govern the Internet or legitimize more state control over online content. Our Administration could not agree more – and will not support a treaty that sets that kind of precedent.
What has been most amusing is to watch how many people railing against ITU's "takevover of the Internet" have supported bad policy here in the States, ranging from rampant domestic surveillance abuses and allowing telcos to impose ridiculous fees on content, to "anti-piracy" laws like SOPA that would have opened the door to web censorship. On that note, one good thing from all this is that the efforts by European telcos to try and erect new tolls on content companies for no coherent reason (an idea AT&T started floating in 2005 to try and elbow in on Google revenues) appears to have gone nowhere.

topics flat nest 


1 edit

1 recommendation

Tongue and Cheek

I love how the U.S. walks out over privacy concerns, right after the public finds out our privacy has long been dead. America is nothing but a dog and pony show. You don't mind warehousing the data of every American and storing the contents of our lives for five years, innocent or not. However, you object to other nations having access to their citizens data. I believe the true motive is you fear someone might be monitoring YOUR (government's traffic) and of course that doesn't bode well, huh?

How "noble" and hypocritical.

Hazelwood, MO

Re: Tongue and Cheek

Please elaborate on your comment as I simply did not get this from anything I know about this.

I would agree with the US being a bunch of asshats and us being idiots and allowing them to invade our privacy way too much, but I didnt get that they walked out on this because it allowed others to do the same.

Tavistock NJ

Russian China version taxes content

This was all about money, not privacy. Russia, China and the beggar nations all want the ability to tax large content companies like they do international phone calls. The US, EU, and some couple dozen other countries are against that. Those not signing this will not be bound by the new rules, but by the 1988 version.


Re: Russian China version taxes content

Ya I read that part, too. However, they will be revisiting the issue again. To me it's a farce the U.S. is decrying the legislation when it's guilty of committing violations that the same law enacts. Politics.

Tavistock NJ
55 countries refused to sign treaty. 89 signed.

Purcellville, VA

3 recommendations

Why are we even involved?

I think it's good that we're not joining in on signing off on any new rules, period. How would it benefit us to relinquish even a small amount of control that we now have?

Personally, I'm still looking for real justification to explain why we're even involved in something like the United Nations to begin with. I really don't see much benefit to us being a member, as the whole organization seems to support the idea of individual nations relinquishing some degree of sovereignty to be governed by an un-elected group of "enlightened fools" who are answerable to nobody.

fifty nine

Sussex, NJ

3 recommendations

Time to get US out of the UN in general

long and short of it. The more we cozy up to this corrupt organization is the more America will be flushed down the toilet, or reduced to be even and fair with everyone else.


1 recommendation

Re: Time to get US out of the UN in general

More like the more countries cozy up to the U.S., the less free and more closely watched their citizens become. Our policies are influencing Canada, Sweden, and governments around the world to enact legislation on this whole Terrorism Farce. Sure, there is Terrorism but Handguns are used in more crime and Terrorism is still relatively rare comparative to how people die every day (autos, weapons, domestic disputes, etc).

Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Tulsa, OK

Re: Time to get US out of the UN in general

Actually, I feel you *both* are right.

West Orange, NJ

Yes, they're hypocrites

But just because the US government supports domestic spying doesn't mean they're wrong to oppose censorship by governments which are still way worse. Would you prefer they be _consistently_ evil?

The ITU really boned this one up. They want more control over the internet, so they cozy up to totalitarians to do it... and by doing so lose support of the anti-US factions in the western world.