Beginning today in Dubai, close to 200 nations are meeting to discuss the future of the Internet. At Wired, David Kravets previews the discussion:
The idea behind the meetings is to update the International Telecommunications Regulations governed by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency known as the ITU, that is responsible for global communication technologies.
But the outcome of the two-week session isn’t likely to make much change, as no proposal will be accepted if not agreed to by all nations. And the biggest fear — that the session will lead to net censorship — has already come to pass.
Brian Murphy of the Associated Press has more:
The 193 nations at the meeting have put forward more than 900 proposed regulatory changes covering the Internet, mobile roaming fees and satellite and fixed-line communications. Broad consensus is needed for any item to be adopted for any changes — the first major review of the U.N.‘s telecommunications agenda since 1988, well before the Internet age.
The gathering is also powerless to force nations to change their Internet policies, such as China’s notorious “Great Firewall” and widespread blackouts of political opposition sites in places including Iran and the Gulf Arab states. Last week, Syria’s Internet and telephone services disappeared for two days during some of the worst fighting in months to hit the capital, Damascus.
At TechDirt, meanwhile, Mike Masnick asks a good question: “The Internet Isn’t Broken; So Why Is The ITU Trying To ‘Fix’ It?”
Over two billion people are already online, representing about a third of the planet. And, yes, spreading that access further is a good goal, but the ITU is not the player to do it. The reason that the internet has been so successful and has already spread as far as it has, as fast as it has, is that it hasn’t been controlled by a bureaucratic government body in which only other governments could vote. Instead, it was built as an open interoperable system that anyone could help build out. It was built in a bottom up manner, mainly by engineers, not bureaucrats. Changing that now makes very little sense.
Besides, does anyone really think that a process that requires the companies who successfully innovated to funnel money to corrupt governments and/or corrupt state-controlled telcos is going to magically lead to greater investment in internet growth?
You can read IIA’s position on International control of the Internet here.