The UN Telecom Agency, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), ended up being humiliated at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai today. Having turned industries and governments upside down over the last days, the Internet has claimed its first organizational scalp. The applause was yet not over after the final voting had given the ITU power over the world’s internet, when the US Ambassador Terry Kramer hit the stage…
“It’s with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the US. must communicate that it’s not able to sign the agreement in the current form.”
“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,” Ambassador Kramer told the conference.
The US was then followed by the UK, Sweden, Egypt, Canada, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Kenya, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Qatar, and the Czech Republic, all of whom expressed regret that the conference had not been
able to effectively tackle the issues in front of it and warned they would not be able to sign the final text.
The collapse will come as a severe embarrassment to the ITU. Efforts to bring its core telecom regulations into the Internet era had exposed the organization to modern realities that it was incapable of dealing with. In the end, they proved overwhelming, news.dot-nxt.com writes.
The warning signs were apparent months before the conference took place. The technical community and civil society had complained bitterly that they were not even allowed access to the documents that outlined government suggestions for change. It was confirmed that only government representatives would be able to provide proposals, speak and vote. Preparatory meetings were closed.
Under increasing pressure, the ITU at first dismissed the complaints before belatedly trying to open up. But it was too little too late. If the preparatory work was out-of-step with modern policy systems, attendees to the meeting were stunned to find a conference style and approach stuck in the 1970s.
A constant stream of information was available only in downloadable Word documents; disagreement was dealt with by increasingly small, closed groups of key government officials; voting was carried out by delegates physically raising large yellow paddles, and counted by staff who walked around the room; meetings ran until the early hours of the morning, and “consensus by exhaustion” was the only fall-back position. Government speakers spent long hours debating single words and playing strategic games with one another, pushing everyone closer and closer to the end of the conference without tackling any of the main points of contention.
Well, I guess the internet has won the first battle, but the war has just begun.
Next time, I’m afraid the defenders of the free cyber space will be up against far more powerful forces.
Related by econoTwist’s:
- Prepare For Your Last Hours of Internet Freedom
- Secret Plan Exposed: UN to Take Control Over the World’s Internet
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