Organization: ITU

ITU is the International Telecommunication Union and is the semi-autonomous arm of the United Nations that has traditionally dealt with telecommunications (including radio spectrum, satellite orbits, telco standards and telecoms infrastructure).

The ITU is an inter-governmental body created in 1865 and based in Geneva. In recent years it has allowed for some involvement from business and other stakeholders.

Most recent ITU articles | Most popular ITU articles

8 May 2012

It's time for Internet organizations to ditch the palace politics and grow up

Starting next week, the United Nations in Geneva will host a series of back-to-back meetings with a broad focus: deciding the ways in which the future of the Internet will be decided.

Most meetings are open and attendance is free. And yet, despite the low barriers to entry, one key demographic is largely missing: business.

For example, of the 300 people registered with an online website covering the first of four conferences (the WSIS Forum), only 26 identify themselves as coming from the private sector, and of them, only 11 are not from specialist Internet infrastructure companies.

The same pattern is repeated at the conference that follows: consultations over the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). And business numbers will fall even further for the last two: "enhanced co-operation" and the annual meeting of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).

2 April 2012
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It is rare that the verbose and determinedly unsexy world of Internet governance hits the mainstream press. So how has it happened twice in one month?

First, on 9 March, there was The Huffington Post warning us that "Internet freedom is again under fire".

Of course, the Huffington Post's editorial policy is based more on how important the author is than what they actually have to say (in this case Washington insider and high-end lobbyist Ed Black).

Internet governance issues hit the mainstream press

But then, in this month's Vanity Fair nothing less than a full and lengthy article titled World War 3.0 has appeared. Internet governance is about to enter the broader populace's minds.

27 March 2012

[Copy of transcript and audio available on 12 March 2012 ICANN and the Internet Governance Landscape session page]

Bill Graham: I think we should get started, I’m very pleased to see such a large group here for this interesting, I hope, I’m sure will be an interesting session. I want to congratulate all of you who found the place, because I know there’s been confusion about the time and the room, and I truly apologize for that. But some last minute changes were required and that has been the result. But anyway you’re here and I’m very pleased to see you.

I am Bill Graham; I am a Director on the ICANN Board. Markus Kummer beside me is the Vice President of Public Policy for the Internet Society, and we will be co-chairing this event.

14 March 2012
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ICANN's two most powerful bodies, the GNSO and GAC, are due to approve extraordinary special protections for the Red Cross and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the Internet. But is the decision based on shaky legal advice?

Update: The GNSO has deferred a vote on the issue until a special meeting of the Council in just under two weeks.

Under proposals put forward by the GNSO - ICANN's main policy body - and due to be agreed to by the GAC - the governmental advisory committee, the world-famous international organizations will be given permanent control over their names, as well as any names that are similar to their names, wherever they appear across the Internet.

The basis for this extraordinary level of protection is that both organizations stand apart globally since they have their names protected by treaty and within the laws of a number of countries.*

According to the GAC chair, Heather Dryden, it has carried out "legal research" that "confirms that only the IOC and Red Cross qualify for unique levels of protection". In a letter from Dryden to GNSO chair Stephane van Gelder, it was also noted that: "No other international not-for-profit or non-governmental organizations have been afforded this threshold of protection at both the international and national levels." A full list of the protections granted to both was then provided in a letter created by GAC members.

21 February 2012

The following op-ed was published in the Wall Street Journal on 21 February 2012.

Written by FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell it outlines US government concerns about the WCIT conference in Dubai in December and the effort to change the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). Read on the Wall Street Journal website.

The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom

Top-down, international regulation is antithetical to the Net, which has flourished under its current governance model.

Robert McDowell

On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet. Dozens of countries, including Russia and China, are pushing hard to reach this goal by year's end. As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last June, his goal and that of his allies is to establish "international control over the Internet" through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a treaty-based organization under U.N. auspices.

17 February 2012
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Two memos by the State Department have thrown a crucial telecoms strategy by the US government into disarray.

Outlining the purported US position with respect to the renegotiation of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) later this year, the memos were provided to civil society and business groups this month for feedback and have been met with a mixture of confusion and disbelief.

More worryingly, they appear to have caught the rest of the US government by surprise and threaten to undermine a carefully formulated strategy involving the NTIA, FCC and other departments who specialize in telecoms regulations.

Going directly against recent warnings by US officials, the first memo argues that the US government’s stance has been successful and “there are no pending proposals to invest the ITU with ICANN-like Internet governance authority". It advocates a change in position since “most of the world… may not be ready to embrace the US Government's minimalist position".

17 February 2012
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The following memo was distributed by the US government State Department in January 2012 to non-governmental stakeholders asking for input. At the same time, a shorter memo outlining general USG strategy was also published.

The 2012 World Conference on Information Technology

Economic Issues

9 February 2012

The Internet governance dance card gets fuller every year as each stakeholder group adds its own meetings on various isssues to the mix. Below is a list of 12 meetings within the global inter-governmental space to keep an eye on in 2012.


1. Panel discussion on freedom of expression on the Internet

To be held during 19th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).
When: 27 February - 23 March
Where: Geneva

5 February 2012

The following speech was given by ITU Secretary-General, Hamadoun Touré, at the Arab Telecom & Internet Forum 2012 conference in Beirut on 2 February 2012. Read it on the ITU website.

Your Excellency, Nicolas Sahnaoui, Minister of Telecommunications, Lebanon;

Dr Rima Khalaf, Executive Secretary, ESCWA;

Eng. Saud Al Dowaish, CEO, STC Telecom Group;

Khalid Bal Kheyour, CEO, ARABSAT;

Mr Raouf Abu Zaki, CEO, Iktisaad wal Aamal;

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here with you in Beirut today for the opening of the 11th Arab Telecom and Internet Forum 2012.

This event is particularly timely, coming as it does on the first anniversary of last year’s events across the region, in which information and communication technologies – ICTs – played a key role.

21 October 2011

The ITU Council met between 11 and 21 October 2011 in Geneva. Its key decisions are outlined very briefly below.

Photo: ITU

The nine-day session reviewed 76 input documents, including 20 contributions from Member States. Twenty-seven formal texts were adopted. The most significant were:

  • The creation of the "Council Working group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues." (previously a less formal 'dedicated group'). There was some controversy over the working group's approach and its member-state-only membership.
  • A decision to focus the 5th World Telecommunication Policy Forum in 2013 on the key Internet resolutions agreed at the 2010 Plenipotentiary (101, 102, and 133)
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