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David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Eye on Dubai: Predictions on U.N. Internet Regulations

Substantive issues are on the table, but little change may come from U.N. gathering

  • December 4, 2012

African nations will win treaty language on the need for better Internet connectivity—but no funding mechanism to help get it done.  Middle East representatives will argue pointlessly about Palestine. And as 193 national representatives in Dubai weigh whether the U.N. should regulate the Internet, Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure, who heads the International Telecommunications Union, will ask everyone to “be reasonable, consider the larger picture, and tell delegates that the world is watching.”

Those are some of the tongue-in-cheek predictions from .Nxt, a group that monitors Internet governance and policy issues, at the conclusion of a helpful preview and summary of the obscure but potentially important Dubai gathering.

The ITU is considering regulating the Internet through updates to its International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs)—which haven’t been changed since 1998 and today don’t mention the Internet at all.  Substantive issues are on the table including new ways of pricing Internet traffic (See “A Budding War Over Internet Economics”) as well as security and privacy issues.

Today the ITU affirmed the right to freedom of information online, though didn’t propose any ITR language changes to this effect, since this right is already codified in the oft-ignored  Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Anyone interested in the details about the ITU meeting—which will last for almost two weeks–can follow these links to learn how the work will be done, and over what schedule  they will consider the many proposed changes that have been advanced by the national representatives.

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