Greenpeace and ITUC warn of government control over Internet

Greenpeace and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have added their voices to an increasing number of organizations concerned about the impact on the Internet of a United Nations conference to be held next month.

A joint letter sent by the two organizations to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon complains that the conference will seek to "impose solely governmental control" over the Internet and calls for him to intervene.

"Several proposals have already been submitted for consideration by the WCIT which seek to undermine the currently free, open and inherently democratic governance of the Internet," the letter warns. "This may just be the tip of the iceberg."

The letter asks Ki-Moon to ensure that the documentation surrounding the meeting is made publicly available and the open "multi-stakeholder" approach used in other Internet policy organizations be applied to the conference.

While it remains unlikely that Ki-Moon will intervene, the letter is important in that it is the first time that organizations outside the Internet governance world have involved themselves in the process. Neither has a history of following Internet issues but they do boast large numbers of members, many of whom are proactive. It remains to be seen however whether the seemingly arcane issue of telecoms regulations fires up either organization's base of supporters.

Read the letter in full

Leg before WCIT

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) meeting will be run next month in Dubai by the United Nations' telecoms arm, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and is due to review and update a global treaty signed in 1998 covering global telecommunications (more information).

For months, Western governments - and in particular, the United States - as well as Internet organizations have been loudly complaining that some of the recommendations put forward would give governments and the United Nations unnecessary additional powers over the Internet and so risk damaging the open nature of the network that has been behind much of its success in the past decade.

The biggest concern however is that the meeting itself is closed and only official government representatives are allowed to speak.

Secretary-General of the ITU, Hamadoun Toure, has been on the defensive for the past six months over the conference and just last week dismissed concerns about the conference as "misleading" and "ridiculous" in a speech at the Internet Governance Forum.

However those concerns persist and the ITU's Council formally rejected a request to make its documents publicly available. Instead only a summary of the proposals has been made available so far.

.Nxt will be attending the WCIT meeting in person next month and will provide members with an extensive, real-time rundown of events.