UN must lead Internet regulation effort, says ITU head

International Telecommunication Union Secretary General Hamadoun Toure attempted to make the case in Wired Magazine on Wednesday that efforts to regulate the Internet should be led by the United Nations.

The ITU member states are preparing for a conference in December, in which they will finalize the renegotiation of an international telecom treaty last ratified in 1988, which is attributed to paving the way for the explosive growth of the Internet.

The ITU is a UN agency that oversees satellite orbits and the international wireless spectrum.

Toure argued that UN leadership is necessary to help bring Internet to the two-thirds of the world that is not yet connected to the Internet.

The alternative, he argued, is “siloed, scattered discussions – which would put a brake on expanding connectivity to the communities that need it most.”

Toure also argued against concerns, stating that under the ITU Constitution, member states can already “block any private telecommunications” that appear “dangerous to the security of the State or contrary to its laws, to public order or to decency.”

“The treaty regulations cannot override the Constitution,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Toure in 2011 while he was still Russia’s prime minister, and gave his support to the agency.

The United States and various allies have opposed the effort, stating that it would upend the governance model that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

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