I am a believer in the power of open markets to bring about positive change in the world, drive economic growth and create jobs. Based on an open principles, the Internet has become an indispensable part of the world trade landscape, but I wonder if we have begun to take its impact for granted, expecting it to continue to deliver new opportunity without reminding ourselves that it in fact needs to be protected by robust mechanisms that will safeguard its continuity and influence for the next generation?
INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE FOR ALL: AN EXPANDED VISION AND A RENEWED COMMITMENT
Ten years ago, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005 for the first and second phases of the World Summit on the Information Society adopted a common vision of the Information Society, identified its key principles and outlined the main challenges towards an Information Society for All based on shared Knowledge.
It was both very fast and painfully slow. The key moments
Iran forces a vote, and presages the end of WCIT. Credit: ITU
One thing that everyone could agree on in the build-up to the World Conference on International Telecommunications was that anything could happen during the two weeks in Dubai.
The logic of forcing the world's governments into a box to rewrite a global treaty that has stood for 24 years in just 14 days may be questionable, but it definitely creates an event and along with that moments that stand out and set the general tone and atmosphere of the meeting itself.
A great deal of ink has been spilt in recent weeks outlining threats to Internet governance from changes to a global telecommunications treaty negotiation that just concluded in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), including an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that inelegantly compared government bureaucrats to gorillas.
While important, the focus on WCIT has detracted attention from another set of United Nations deliberations that wrapped this week in New York, with potentially far greater consequences than the haggling of 1,500 delegates in the under-ventilated halls of the Dubai World Trade Center.
Waiting for WSIS
The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee has spent the last month quietly crafting the process that will lead to a ten-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10). The last WSIS concluded in 2005 and set the stage for many of the current debates around the role for government in Internet policy, including at WCIT.
ITU forced to face modern realities as WCIT conference implodes
Having turned industries and governments upside down, the Internet has claimed its first organizational scalp, subjecting the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to a humiliating failure at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai earlier today.
No sooner had applause run out after a vote on what to include in the preamble to an updated global telecoms treaty than the United States took the floor and announced it would not sign it.
"It's with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the U.S. must communicate that it's not able to sign the agreement in the current form," said Ambassador Terry Kramer. "The Internet has given the world unimaginable economic and social benefit during these past 24 years. All without UN regulation. We candidly cannot support an ITU Treaty that is inconsistent with the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance."
This is a revised version of the original document.
DRAFT NEW RESOLUTION
International Telecommunication Service Traffic Termination and Exchange
The World Conference on International Telecommunications (Dubai, 2012)
a) the transition from the dedicated phone and data networks to converged IP-based networks raises regulatory, technical and economic issues which need to be taken into consideration;
b) many Member States have expressed a need for the initiation and implementation of commercial agreements between authorized operating agencies and service providers of international services, with the objective of empowering all the participants in the new value chain;
c) concerns raised regarding the development of IP interconnection to maintain investment to satisfy future demand,
a) some Member States are observing a deterioration in the quality of international services and voice traffic;
b) ITU-T Study Group 3 is mandated to study the development of recommendations, resolutions and guidelines related to these issues;
Fears that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will award itself a role in governance of the Internet, despite the promises of its Secretary-General, are looming large on the last day of the World Teleconference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).
At the end of a confusing and fast-paced day of discussions yesterday, the issue that has haunted for the conference for the past six months finally exploded into the open with discussion of a new proposed resolution that would see the ITU "play an active and constructive role" in deciding the evolution of the global communications network.
More than a half a million people have signed an online petition calling on the ITU to reign in proposals that would given governments greater control over the Internet.
The 500,000 benchmark was reached at 7pm local time while attendees to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai reconvened for a night session where they hope to reach agreement on most changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).
Special measures for landlocked developing countries and small island developing states for access to international optical fibre networks
The World Conference on International Telecommunications (Dubai, 2012),
a) Resolution 65/172 of 20 December 2010 of the United Nations General Assembly, on specific actions related to the particular needs and problems of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs);
b) Resolution 30 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, on special measures for the least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing states (SIDS), LLDCs and countries with economies in transition;
c) the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome;
d) the outcome of the Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005) phases of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS);