US WCIT ambassador: Some things aren't negotiable

The U.S. won't agree to limit free speech online or to new international regulations for the Internet, Kramer says
  • (IDG News Service)
  • — 14 November, 2012 22:17

The U.S. delegation to an upcoming United Nations telecom treaty-writing conference will not budge on its positions advocating free speech online and opposing broad new regulations for the Internet, the leader of the delegation said Wednesday.

The U.S. delegation wants a successful World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), said Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation. But if other delegates to WCIT attempt to expand the U.N. International Telecommunication Union's telecom regulations to the Internet, "we might as well not waste our time," Kramer said during a WCIT discussion in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. delegation, however, will work hard to advocate for telecom competition and free expression during the ITU event, starting Dec. 3 in Dubai. Open markets offer the only proven way to expand telecom and broadband services to more people, and the U.S. delegation has strong support for that position from parts of Europe, the Far East and Latin America, Kramer said at the event, sponsored by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The conference will give the U.S. delegation the opportunity to talk about the economic benefits of free speech and democracy, but the U.S. will have to be "shrewd" in how it communicates those values, Kramer said.

"We don't want to come across like we're preaching to others," he said. "At the end of the day, we need to influence others. We need to demonstrate an understanding of the environment they're in."

The U.S. delegation will spend the three weeks leading up to the conference selling its vision of the meeting to representatives of other countries, Kramer said. There are also some issues that the U.S. delegation will be willing to compromise on, Kramer said, although he didn't give many examples.

The U.S. delegation remains concerned that some countries will push for telecom-style termination fees for Web traffic, in an effort to raise money for broadband deployment, and that some countries will push for Internet censorship in the name of cybersecurity, Kramer said. The U.S. would not have to adopt those regulations, but U.S. companies would be significantly affected if other countries did, WCIT critics have said.

While Kramer said the U.S. will oppose any attempts at WCIT to regulate the Internet, an ITU representative said the conference should look at ways to bring broadband to more people. The WCIT's regulations should be extended to create a "global information society," said Gary Fowlie, head of the ITU's Liaison Office.

About two-thirds of the world's population do not have access to the Internet, and one focus of WCIT should be on how to expand broadband to those people, Fowlie said. WCIT should look at ways to make the Internet "affordable and accessible" to all people, he said.

Some fears in the U.S. that the WCIT could lead to regulations censoring the Internet are overstated, Fowlie added. The U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights advocates freedom of expression "through any media and regardless of frontiers." Any efforts to censor the Internet at WCIT would run counter to that declaration, he said.

Still, WCIT could "create a lot of mischief," said Milton Mueller, a professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. "This is an accident waiting to happen."

Instead of creating new regulations that could affect the Internet, the ITU should do away with the international telecom regulations, he said. Instead of the ITU, private companies and civil society should come up with rules for interconnection and other telecom issues, he said.

The ITU and its telecom regulations have hung around after their original purpose has expired, Mueller said. "It's almost impossible for intergovernmental organizations to go out of existence," he said. "They just hang on and try to think of new things to do."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Topics: Syracuse University, regulation, Gary Fowlie, internet, Milton Mueller, International Telecommunication Union, government, George Mason University, Terry Kramer
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?