U.S. Joined by Other Nations in Refusing to Sign and Follow ITU Agreement on Internet Rules

By Ed Silverstein December 14, 2012

A controversial new telecom treaty was not signed by the United States and several other nations this week – as it gives more government control over the Internet.

The new regulations – found in the treaty that was signed by representatives from 89 countries at the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) meeting in Dubai – is not binding on the nations which do not agree to it. These include the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada – some 55 nations in total. Still, it creates a worrisome precedent.

“The U.S. today has announced that it cannot sign the revised regulations in their current form,” Ambassador Terry Kramer was quoted by the news media.  “The resolution doesn't have teeth to it. ... At the end of the day, these (agreements) are not legally binding. ... They are much more normative and values-oriented.”

Kramer, like many Internet companies, claim the success of the Internet is due to its independence.


Image via Shutterstock

“All of the benefits and growth of the Internet have come as a result not of government action or of inter-governmental treaty. They are an organic expression of consumer demand and societal needs," Kramer added.

It was reported by FoxNews that the treaty read in part that, “All governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the existing Internet.” It also called for governments to regulate/prevent spam e-mails. The resolution also called for governments to increase Internet security.

One possible “tax” on the Internet, which would have required Google and other companies to pay in order to display content, was removed from the resolution.

Still, Google was opposed to the terms found in the new agreement. Its online petition against Internet regulations by the U.N. got over three million signatures from the public.

“What is clear ... is that many governments want to increase regulation and censorship of the Internet,” a Google spokesperson told FoxNews.com. “We stand with the countries who refuse to sign this treaty.”

Russia was among the nations calling for increased Internet regulation. Iran, China and several Arab nations were also supportive of increased Internet regulation.

“At the moment each (government) on its territory governs (Internet) resources. ... (Regulation) already exists. We can't stick our hands in the sand like an ostrich and say we don't know what the Internet is,” a Russian representative stated on Wednesday.

“The lack of a single, unified agreement may mean the “Internet will work very differently in different regions,” Reuters said.

Also, one delegate to the conference, Tariq al-Awadhi, who represented the United Arab Emirates, said the Arab States' delegation was "double-crossed" by the United States and its allies with a compromise.

"Unfortunately, those countries breached the compromise package and destroyed it totally," Awadhi said. "We have given everything and are not getting anything."

Awadhi wanted the treaty to cover VoIP and instant messaging.

Among the countries that did not sign the agreement were those located in Western Europe, Canada, Philippines, Poland, Egypt, Kenya and the Czech Republic. The United States representatives and some of its allies walked out of ITU conference meetings earlier in the week.

“A majority of the ITU member states, including many countries that purportedly support Internet freedom, chose to discard long-standing international consensus to keep the Internet insulated from inter-governmental regulation,” Robert McDowell, a commissioner at the U.S. FCC, said. “By agreeing to broaden the scope of the ITU’s rules to include the Internet, encompassing its operations and content, these nations have radically undermined the highly successful, private sector, non-governmental, multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.”

"My delegation came to work for revised international telecommunication regulations, but not at any cost,” Simon Towler, the head of the UK delegation, said. “We prefer no resolution on the Internet at all, and I'm extremely concerned that the language just adopted opens the possibility of Internet and content issues."

The current treaty that governs the Internet communications was last updated in 1988.




Edited by Brooke Neuman

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Remote Work: The Future of IT

By: Special Guest    6/28/2017

Remote work opportunities are on the rise thanks to innovative technology that makes telecommuting and virtual collaboration more effective than ever …

Read More

WannaCry? No, It's Worse in New Ransomware Attack

By: Steve Anderson    6/28/2017

A wave of ransomware attacks strikes computers across much of the planet, leading some to wonder if WannaCry has made a return.

Read More

Surface Pro, Surface Book, Surface Notebook: The Choice Is Surprisingly Easy

By: Rob Enderle    6/27/2017

I've been using Microsoft's latest versions-or, in some cases, the only versions-of its Surface PC line of products. Each is very different in terms o…

Read More

Two Technologies That Showcase Good VR Could Cost $20K

By: Rob Enderle    6/23/2017

This month, there were two interesting product announcements. The first was in regard to very high-resolution displays that should arrive in VR headse…

Read More

Popularity of Voice Recognition Gadgets Highlights Need for Speech Analytics

By: Kayla Matthews    6/21/2017

Voice-activated personal assistant platforms such as Amazon's Alexa continue to grow in popularity, making lives easier in all sorts of ways. As such …

Read More