US walks out of telecommunications treaty

The United States has led a group of nations in walking out of World Conference on International Telecommunications and refusing to sign an agreement that will allow more government regulation of the Internet.

The US insists that inclusion of the Internet to the treaty could lead to limitations of freedom of speech and do away with the current bottom-up model.

Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said mentioning of the name Internet in this day and age is inevitable, as telecommunication and Internet are inextricably linked.

“The word Internet was repeated throughout this conference and I believe this is simply recognition of the current reality the two worlds of telecommunications and Internet are inextricably linked,” he explained.

States supporting the document, led by Russia and China, say that Internet inclusion is in line with the talks as it is supported by telecommunication infrastructure.

The move by the US moments after the ITU announced that the final document had been finalised is show of disapproval after countries led by Russia on Wednesday forced through an informal vote that led to the Internet being included in the document.

“We cannot support a treaty that is not supportive of the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance,” said head of the US delegation Terry Krammer.

The shift of governance to the ITU was also viewed as taking power from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which works under contract from the US government.

The US had earlier not been able to stop the inclusion of “network security” and “spam” into the document, despite being adamant that such provisions could be used to limit free speech.

The US was, however, able to add reference to human rights into the preamble, supported by some European countries, Kenya, Tunisia and others.

African countries also managed to add that countries and not just individuals had a right to access of the services of ITU.

The move by the US is a win for lobby groups against Internet supervision, such as the Internet Society (IS) and Google, which had earlier campaigned against restrictions on the Web.

Posted in: Internet

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