States postpone dreams of international control of the Internet

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The coalition supporting a controversial Chinese, Russian and Arab proposal for international regulation of Internet companies withdrew their support for the proposal Monday, following the negative outcry over the weekend after its Friday introduction.

The proposal — formerly backed by a coalition of countries that included Russia, the United Arab Emirates, China, Saudi Arabia and Algeria — was one of over 1,300 submitted for consideration for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai this week.

There are 193 countries belonging to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) — a U.N. agency responsible for the regulation of satellite orbits and international calls — meeting at the WCIT to renegotiate a decades-old version of a telecommunications treaty last revised in 1988.

The treaty, the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), is credited with contributing to the success of the Internet.

TechWeekEurope reported Monday that the proposals were now “off the table”.

“They were at a loss as to why the nation states, who handed their proposals to the ITU on Friday, had pulled out,” TechWeekEurope reported, stating that the ITU is saying the document — although leaked — was never officially put forward.

The ITU did not immediately return The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

TheDC previously reported that the U.S. delegation disputed weekend reports that the Arab proposal had pushed it to threaten leaving the WCIT.

U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, who serves as the head of the U.S. delegation, called the reports “speculative,” as well as “inaccurate and unhelpful to the conference,” in a statement released on Monday.

The U.S. — having taken a strong stance against proposals that would dramatically alter the conditions created by the ITRs, including any efforts to internationally regulate the transmission of content across international borders — has reiterated the need for countries at the conference to stay focused on discussing telecommunications issues such as mobile roaming and broadband investment.

Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes have also previously expressed the desire to address ITU regulation over cybersecurity issues, provoking alarm from the U.S. that those countries would attempt to use the ITRs as political cover for the internal suppression and censorship of political dissidents.

Various member states — particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China — have also continuously expressed a desire to wrest control of the technical management of the Web from multi-stakeholder organizations based in the U.S.

The conference, which began on Dec. 3, 2012, ends Friday.

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