Google has warned that a forthcoming UN-organised conference threatens the free and open internet .
Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will
try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.
Google has asked web users to add their name to an online petition to support its view.
The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty, it wrote on its Take Action site.
proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.
Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people
across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets.
Google added that it was concerned that only governments have a voice at the ITU and not companies or others who had a stake in the net,
concluding that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) was the wrong place to make decisions about the internet's future.
The ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference, however
a site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has revealed some of the details. Most recently these included a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation.
the US tech industry have also been concerned by remarks by the ITU's secretary general, Dr Hamadoun Toure, that the meeting should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate
way to do so . Gary Shapiro CEA's Gary Shapiro says firms fear having to pay a toll to send traffic through countries' data networks
The ITU is hosting the conference to draw up the treaty between 3 to 14 December in Dubai.
Update: EU warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet
23rd November 2012. See article from
The UN should not be allowed to take over control of the internet, Euro MPs have warned.
Internet control currently lies largely with US-based groups such as Icann, which regulates the web address system. But reports in the Russian press have
suggested the Kremlin and others wanted control of key internet systems passed to a UN agency.
The European Parliament has said the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was not the appropriate body to have authority. Members of
the European Parliament backed a resolution which urged member states to reject changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) which would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business
relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online .
A site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has published several documents relating to the new treaty. Among them was a proposal from Russia
suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation. Russia said in a document:
Member states shall have equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment
and reclamation of internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure.
Update: Ed Vaizey warns that a UN
internet group threatens the free and open internet
24th November 2012. See article from
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) should not have a say over the future of the web, according to Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.
Vaizey was speaking to Wired.co.uk. The issue is that
the ITU was set up to regulate telephony services. Since 1988, lines have blurred between telephony and internet services and as such the ITU wants to amend its rules to extend to internet governance. This is what Vaizey (as well as many other people and
organisations including Google) disagree with:
We [the UK government] have made our position clear. We support the multi-stakeholder model for internet governance. Internet policy is made from the ground up, not
top-down. The internet has grown effectively without interference from government. We don't think a treaty-based organisation should have a say over the internet.
Vaizey's feelings are echoed by a number of other companies and
individuals. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told Wired.co.uk:
The ITU approach is completely broken. Secretive deliberations in which civil society groups (such as Wikipedia) are excluded from the process is hopelessly