Yesterday at the International Telecoms Union (ITU) conference in Dubai, a victory was chalked up for freedom as a draft treaty that would give government greater control over the Internet was shot down. As Charles Arthur of The Guardian reports:
The US was first to declare its opposition to the draft treaty. “It is with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that I have to announce that the United States must communicate that it is unable to sign the agreement in its current form,” Terry Kramer, head of the US delegation, told the conference, after what had looked like a final draft was approved.
“The internet has given the world unimaginable economic and social benefit during these past 24 years. All without UN regulation. We candidly cannot support an ITU Treaty that is inconsistent with the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.”
The US was joined in its opposition by the UK, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Qatar and Sweden. All said they would not sign the proposed final text, meaning that although a number of other countries will sign it, the treaty cannot be effectively implemented.
Matt Smith and Joseph Menn of Reuters report on some positive signs for Internet freedom out of the ITU conference in Dubai:
Hopes rose on Tuesday for a compromise agreement that would keep intrusive government regulation of the Internet from being enshrined in a global treaty.
As a 12-day conference of the International Telecommunication Union drew near its Friday closing, the chairman of the gathering in Dubai circulated a draft that sidelined proposals from Russia, China and other countries that have been seeking the right to know where each piece of Internet traffic comes from.
“The United States believes it is the basis for any further progress toward reaching an agreement at this conference,” said U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, who had led Western opposition to the earlier proposals.
The United States has been strongly against giving government more oversight of the Internet — so much so that even both Democrats and Republicans have agreed.
Speaking of potential censorship of the Internet, Jennifer Martinez from The Hill reports on the ongoing efforts to keep the world wide web free from U.N. oversight:
U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer vowed that the United States will not compromise its principles on human rights, free speech and other issues during negotiations of an international telecommunications treaty in December.
“If there are things that are completely objectionable, that violate our fundamental views about human rights, about free speech, about economic opportunities—if they fundamentally violate it—then we will just say no and absolutely we won’t proceed,” said Kramer, who is leading the U.S. delegation during the negotiations, at a press conference at law firm Wiley Rein on Friday.
The House has already made clear it opposes international governance of the Internet, and the Senate is not far behind.