Draft ITR text seeks role for ITU in Internet governance

Key concern of WCIT conference lives on

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is seeking to give itself a role in Internet governance, despite strong resistance and an earlier promise by its Secretary-General that it would not do so.

According to draft text of a revised version of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), being discussed currently at the WCIT conference in Dubai, the ITU would take an "active and constructive role in the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet". The draft resolution also notes that "all governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance".

Additionally, a proposed new article 3.8 argues that countries should have the choice to opt-out of the global Internet addressing system and "be able to manage the naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources used within their territories".

This text is a significant step back from an original proposal put forward by Russia that would have seen a new article added to the ITR and given the ITU a level of oversight.

Nevertheless, it will be met with opposition not least because it bears little relation to the ITRs and does not follow from any of the text contained within the revised document.

It is noteworthy that the draft resolution mentions the "multi-stakeholder" model, as well as the need to work "in consultation with all stakeholders". But at the same time there is no mention of the existing Internet organizations that work together on the Internet's evolution, while there are several mentions of ITU-related groups and conferences.

One-sided mentions

The resolution "invites" countries to "elaborate on their respective position on international Internet-related technical, development and public policy issues within the mandate of the ITU at various ITU fora including, inter alia, the World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum, the Broadband Commission and ITU-T and ITU-D Study Groups."

That approach will raise alarm bells for Western governments and Internet organizations who will likely argue that the WCIT conference has no role to play in making recommendations on an unrelated issue of Internet governance.

It will also put ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Toure under pressure since he has publicly stated on several occasions that the ITRs will not cover Internet governance. Just this afternoon, Dr Toure told .Nxt that his intent was to announce at the end of the conference that WCIT and the ITRs did not cover the issue of Internet governance, reflecting what he had noted at the start.

Unfortunately for Dr Toure, some countries appear determined to ignore his words and push the issue to the end of the conference.


The full text of the proposed resolution is provided below.

PRELIMINARY DRAFT NEW RESOLUTION

To foster an enabling environment for the greater growth of the Internet

The World Conference of International Telecommunication (Dubai, 2012),

recognizing

  1. the WSIS Outcome Documents including Geneva (2003) and Tunis Phases (2005).
  2. that the Internet is a central element of the infrastructure of the Information Society, has evolved from a research and academic facility into a global facility available to the public.
  3. the importance of Broadband capacity to facilitate the delivery of a broader range of services and applications, promote investment and provide Internet access at affordable prices to both existing and new users.
  4. the valuable contribution of all stakeholder groups in their respective roles as recognized in paragraph 35 of the Tunis Agenda to the evolution, functioning and development of the Internet.
  5. that, as stated in the WSIS outcomes, all governments should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the existing Internet and its future development and of the future internet, and that the need for development of public policy by governments in consultation with all stakeholders is also recognized,
  6. Resolutions 101, 102, and 133 of the 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference.

invites Member States

  1. to elaborate on their respective position on international Internet-related technical, development and public policy issues within the mandate of the ITU at various ITU fora including, inter alia, the World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum, the Broadband Commission and ITU-T and ITU-D Study Groups.
  2. to engage with all their stakeholders in this regard.

resolves to instruct the Secretary-General

  1. to continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet as expressed in § 35 of the Tunis Agenda;
  2. to support the participation of Member States and all other stakeholders, as applicable, in the activities of the ITU in this regard.

The draft text for the new article 3.8 is given below:

3.8 [Member states shall, if they so elect, be able to manage the naming, numbering, addressing and identification resources used within their territories for international telecommunications.]

Comments

Multiple standards not OK

When each government is allowed to specify characteristics, then they effectively stop interoperability, and the internet. That is what this would do. Unless they want to make gateways to convert to international standards, which would further degrade performance. Any government that chooses to do so would effectively decrease the traffic to/from their country, and associated revenues, as well as beneficial ideas, eg. medical information, know-how, and technological advances. Also, boycotts could begin. If its not broken, stop trying to fix it.