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rousseau
Dec 11, 2012

Could the ITU conference have an effect on internet users in the US?

The International Telecommunications Union meeting in Dubai has some people freaking out, with commentators on both the left and right decrying the death of the open internet. Fox News even went so far as to warn that "the future of freedom in the 21st century" is at stake. How much of this doom and gloom is legitimate? How much of a difference could the outcome of the ITU conference actually make for people and companies in the US?

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OldHippie
12/12/2012

Well, first off, anything that Fox News says can usually be counted on to be an exercise in hyperbole.  There is little chance that the US would become a signatory to any treaty that reflected a move for greater governmental control as pushed by the Russians, Saudis, and Chinese.  Think about it, the Senate just rejected the treaty on disabled persons that was literally modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act, because a significant number of people live their lives in such fear of the UN that they saw evil in the effort to treat disabled people with dignity.  These Senators and many of their constituents live in a dark fairy tail land of fear and conspiracy, and even if what comes out of ITU is the greatest treaty ever (which it won't be) there is almost no chance that those people would ratify it because, horror of horrors, it is an international treaty.  Also, the White House has said that it would reject the proposed measures, so it wouldn't even be submitted to the Senate for Ratification.   

 

Even so, the interwebs don't stop at the border.  So it could conceivably make a difference to users in the US. On the other hand, as most people know, borders don't mean a lot in how internet traffic is routed.  Even blocked URLs are pretty easy to reach though proxy servers, as people in countries with restrictive policies are well aware.  

 

New America Foundation has a solid policy brief, What's at Stake at WCIT that addresses many of the concerns.     

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rhames
12/12/2012

They resubmitted the proposal today, for whatever that's worth.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-12/china-russia-resubmit-proposal-...

jimlynch
12/12/2012
Here's some background on the ITU.

International Telecommunication Union
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Telecommunication_Union

"The International Telecommunication Union, originally founded as the International Telegraph Union, is a specialized agency of the United Nations which is responsible for information and communication technologies. The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and assists in the development and coordination of worldwide technical standards.

ITU also organizes worldwide and regional exhibitions and forums, such as ITU TELECOM WORLD, bringing together representatives of government and the telecommunications and ICT industry to exchange ideas, knowledge and technology.

The ITU is active in areas including broadband Internet, latest-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology, convergence in fixed-mobile phone, Internet access, data, voice, TV broadcasting, and next-generation networks.

ITU is based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a member of the United Nations Development Group[1] and its membership includes 193 Member States and around 700 Sector Members and Associates."
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Christopher Nerney
12/12/2012

It appears your question may be moot...

 

"Russia, China and some other countries have withdrawn a draft proposal at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, that according to some accounts aimed to bring the Internet under the control of the International Telecommunication Union."

 

Not sure what else is on the agenda in Dubai, but that was the proposal people were up in arms about.

 

 

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