[AfrICANN-discuss] Australia backs UN telco treaty changes

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Sat Jun 9 19:21:00 SAST 2012

Australia backs UN telco treaty changes


By James Hutchinson<http://www.itnews.com.au/Author/522026,james-hutchinson.aspx>on
8, 2012 1:38 PM (1 day 13 hours ago)
Filed under Telco/ISP <http://www.itnews.com.au/Category/35,telcoisp.aspx>
Global governments consider internet regulation.

The Federal Government has issued public support for a contentious plan to
revise the international treaty underpinning global telecommunications

The International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR) treaty, governed by
the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and last revised in 1988,
will introduce provisions specific to potential regulation of the internet
for the first time in a revision expected to be voted on in December this

The revisions would require global governments acceding to the treaty to
undertake the proposals.

Though no documents relating to the proposals have been officially released
by the ITU, claims of closed-door
countries on the revised treaty have led to a concerted effort by
the US chapter of the Internet Society, along with founder and ordained
"father of the internet" Vint Cerf, to rally against the treaty.

They claimed the revised treaty would allow the United Nations, which
oversees the ITU, and individual governments to more carefully regulate the

A spokesman for the Department of Broadband told *iTnews* this week that
the Federal Government "supports updating the [regulations]".

"In doing so, the Government aims to ensure that the revisions do not
undermine the useful purpose the ITRs have had since their adoption," they

The composition of Australia's delegation to the conference – to be held in
Dubai in December – is yet to be determined. However, it is believed any
local delegation is likely to be led by key Department of Broadband

*Internet control?*

Concerns around the treaty have grown in recent months, particularly as the
ITU working group charged with drafting the proposed regulations prepares
to finalise a revised treaty in Geneva at the end of the month.

But ITU secretary-general, Dr Hamadoun Touré, blasted claims over attempts
to control internet governance as "frankly ridiculous" in a speech to
agency staff <http://www.itu.int/en/osg/speeches/Pages/2012-06-06-2.aspx>this

"We are not going to send in the blue helmets of the UN peacekeepers to
police IxPs! And we are certainly not ready to make a grab for global
domination," he said.

"I always compare this to roads, and cars and trucks. It is not because you
own the roads that you own the traffic. And you may not be able to make the
traffic flow smoothly. You need to know the height, and weight and breadth
and be involved in designing some of the features so the bridges don't
collapse ... we need to find a way to have a meaningful debate about this,
without one taking over the other.

"So the real issue on the table here is not at all about who 'runs' the
Internet ... the issue instead is on how best to cooperate to ensure the
free flow of information, the continued development of broadband, continued
investment, and continuing innovation."

Documents leaked from the working group
(pdf<http://files.wcitleaks.org/public/ETNO%20C109.pdf>) claimed
the new regulations would aim to support a "new IP interconnection
ecosystem", including measures dictating global governments to closely
negotiate terms on facilities and quality of service mechanisms.

Key provisions are also being negotiated between countries on revisions to
portions of the treaty that dictate financial settlement on termination of
internet traffic between countries, a measure APNIC chief scientist Geoff
Huston said was "unenforceable" if based on existing telecommunications

*Political drive*

Touré said the ITU was not a "politically oriented organisation" and that a
decision to re-negotiate terms was driven by its membership, rather than
the secretariat.

However, sources close to stakeholders claimed the renegotiations were
highly politically charged and focused around a desire by some –
particularly those in Asia and some in Europe – to wrest control over
internet systems away from the US and minimise the potential effect
US-based legislation such as SOPA and PIPA could have on worldwide networks.

Though the ITU has continued to enshrine access to the internet as a basic
human right, some have claimed the revised treaty could lead to the
restructuring of ICANN – the global domain name registration body – away
from US control, and cement government-level regulation and control over
the internet.

Specifically, leaked documents show countries debating over a treaty
proposal that would allow member states to "suspend the international
telecommunication service" in that country at their will, provided it
notifies other members.

Cerf, chief internet evangelist at Google, said a successful renegotiation
of the treaty would create "significant barriers to civil society
allowing governments to more easily regulate access to the internet at a
country level.

"Such proposals raise the prospect of policies that enable government
controls but greatly diminish the 'permissionless innovation' that
underlies extraordinary Internet-based economic growth to say nothing of
trampling human rights," he said.

In Australia, some have suggested the treaty could more easily allow the
Federal Government to implement data retention and internet filtering

*Net fundamentals*

Major equipment vendors are also thought to oppose the treaty but none
besides Google, through Cerf, have come out against it.

A source told *iTnews* that organisations opposed the treaty "on the basis
that they'll leave things in or allow governments to do things that will
threaten the fundamental, underlying design of the internet".

APNIC's Huston argued that the treaty would not necessarily change plans
for greater regulation that weren't already planned by governments, but
warned the polarity of the debate surrounding the treaty could lead to
future issues for interconnection between countries.

"Almost everything we do, we never quite get it right all over the world;
we always seem to stuff it up," Huston said.

"Weirdly, almost by accident, the internet got it right – one technology
across the world, coherent. The concern that I have is that we have just a
disparity of opinion when the ITRs come up that we end fragmenting
ourselves ... we end up with less than one internet; we end up with many
private networks, national networks and we're back to a far worse world.

"It's not that the ITRs will destroy the internet in terms of regulatory
impost ... [the US] aren't going to sign anything too repressive, [but] on
the other hand other governments might want a different world. If that's
the case, the world's networks will break apart."

Copyright © iTnews.com.au <http://www.itnews.com.au> . All rights reserved.
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