Sneak attacks and dinosaurs with pea-sized brains: the WCIT rhetoric keeps on coming


So which one are you, ITU?

Just when you thought the shouting over the WCIT meeting couldn't get any more shrill…

The conference, run the by the ITU and reviewing the 1988 International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), starts next week.

But rather than discussions growing more sober and serious as discussions grow close (and despite some IT journalists' efforts to provide honest summaries) the past week has seen an increasingly aggressive stance from US-based groups who fear the conference will adversely impact the Internet… and their influence on the Internet.

The normally diplomatic Vint Cerf (Father of the Internet, ex-ICANN chair and Google's "chief Internet evangelist") stole headlines when he used a Reuters interview to launch an attack on the ITU itself.

"These persistent attempts are just evidence that this breed of dinosaurs, with their pea-sized brains, hasn't figured out that they are dead yet, because the signal hasn't traveled up their long necks," he said.

At the same time an op-ed by the Wall Street Journal's L. Gordon Crovitz claimed that the United Nations had planned an "Internet sneak attack".

Claiming that "many of the U.N.'s 193 member states oppose the open, uncontrolled nature of the Internet", Crovitz warned that "China, Russia, Iran and Arab countries are trying to hijack a U.N. agency that has nothing to do with the Internet".

Despite the snappy line "having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla", Crovitz tries and fails to find his way back to reality claiming that proposals to extend out-dated charging schemes to the Internet are because "authoritarian governments" are "hoping their citizens will be cut off from U.S. websites that decide foreign visitors are too expensive to serve".

A new America

Meanwhile, one of the many conference going on in the United States at the moment - each fanning the flames still further - former ICANN/Google/White House employee Andrew McLaughlin argued that the United States should have a formal policy of "dismantling" the ITU altogether (starts 7 mins in).



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Sanity arrives

When it comes to mainstream media, it fell on The Economist to represent what is really going on. In a short piece covering WCIT, it concluded:

"Fears of an anti-Western putsch in Dubai, handing control of the internet to authoritarian governments, are overblown. Though in theory the ITU works by majority vote, in practice agreements are almost always reached by consensus.

"Moreover, the ITU has no power to foist rules on governments that refuse to bargain. A bigger danger is therefore deadlock. That might encourage a large pack of nations to set up their own internet regime, making communication with the rest of the world more costly and more complicated."