The much-anticipated and controversial telecommunications summit has garnered substantial criticism for more than a year, particularly from the U.S., because of the implications the conference could have on the future of the Internet.
ITU member states, including Russia, have pushed for more international regulation of the Internet, while the U.S. government and U.S.-based companies like Google have argued that a renegotiation of the international treaty that governs international telecommunications could upend the current governance model of the Internet that has allowed it to flourish.
U.S. policy makers have also expressed concern that the results of the conference might allow totalitarian and authoritarian regimes political cover for internal censorship and suppression of political dissidents.
The officials have also voiced concerns that companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon might be forced to pay to reach across international borders.
The ITU has pushed back against criticisms of the conference in recent weeks. Conneally, even wrote a rebuttal to a piece by American tech policy analyst Larry Downes in Forbes. Downes’s piece focused on the ITU’s efforts to counter media criticism of conference.
The conference concludes on Dec. 14.
This article has been updated to show that that the Tunisian Proposal was withdrawn from debate after conference attendees voiced support for the right of freedom of expression as outlined under already established UN and ITU doctrine.