"This is an opportunity with this conference to reaffirm what all of us, globally believe is going to be success in the internet and telecom sector."
The United States is continuing to call for a free and unfettered internet as delegates from more than 190 countries come together in Dubai for the World Conference on International Telecommunications December 3 through 14.
Despite proposals from some countries to radically change standing International Telecommunications Regulations to allow for more control by governments and the United Nations, the U.S. is calling for adjustments to the 24-year-old regulations that will further promote “an enabling environment for the success of the telecomm and internet sectors,” said U.S. Head of Delegation Ambassador Terry Kramer:
“These are principles, these are general ideas for how the telecomm sector should operate to ensure that there is continued growth there. … But what’s happened recently is there are a variety of proposals from different countries that have an agenda in mind. And their agenda in many cases is to take the fundamental underpinnings of the telecomm sector … and take away the environment for … success and move control in many cases to regulatory agencies and to governments.”
Ambassador Kramer noted that proposals from some countries in Africa and the Middle East calling for fees on international data transfers could stymie the growth of internet access in those areas, end efforts in free education, and greatly exacerbate the divide between rich and poor.
Further, proposals from countries such as China and Russia, fighting the current multi-stakeholder model of internet governance, could lead to serious human rights abuses, said Ambassador Kramer. In particular, greatly increasing governing powers ofthe UN-run ITU, or International Telecommunications Union, would be a mistake:
“We’ve had a good working relationship with our Russian colleagues, but I have to be candid, the proposal that’s come from Russia is shocking and it’s disappointing. … What they’re suggesting is the mechanism of governing the internet, of addresses and naming and content, would be moved over to the ITU, which is part of the UN.
Another problem, said Ambassador Kramer, is the suggestion that regulations approve the routing of internet traffic by individual governments. This would open the door for citizen censorship, said Ambassador Kramer.
“This is an opportunity with this conference to reaffirm what all of us, globally believe is going to be success in the internet and telecom sector,” said Ambassador Kramer. “But we do have clear lines we will not cross in terms of items that we’ll agree to.”