Calm down, everyone. What is really going on at the WCIT Dubai conference this year and who is the ITU? Google and Facebook have gotten involved and the scrum is hitting the media machine. (Check out #FreeandOpen or look here.) It may be a moment in world history to savor when the WSJ, civil libertarians, and the European Parliament are speaking in concert. This approach has been taken at other times by feminists, family traditionalists, MNCs, NGOs, and a host of others. Globalized democracy at its latest, though perhaps not finest.
The WSJ makes a fair point about letting an international organization run the web, when non-governmental have to date been the key players:
Having the Internet rewired by bureaucrats would be like handing a Stradivarius to a gorilla. The Internet is made up of 40,000 networks that interconnect among 425,000 global routes, cheaply and efficiently delivering messages and other digital content among more than two billion people around the world, with some 500,000 new users a day.Many of the engineers and developers who built and operate these networks belong to virtual committees and task forces coordinated by an international nonprofit called the Internet Society. The society is home to the Internet Engineering Task Force the main provider of global technical standards and other volunteer groups such as the Internet Architecture Board and the Internet Research Task Force. Another key nongovernmental group is Icann, which assigns Internet addresses and domain names.
Its not that the principle of global coordination is the core issue as your Facebook friends might have you believe . Treaties and international bodies coordinate (and dare we say ‘regulate’) intellectual property, air travel, weather and other global commons issues with modest to great success.
The real question is the same one that dogs the HRC. What will Russia, China and Iran do at the helm? With a lack of agreed-upon standards across nations how can an international org that is setup to do their bidding be anything but a tool for whoever chairs the panel or writes the guidelines?
The WCIT conference will consider revisions to a 1988 treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations. At the meeting, 193 member nations consider dozens of proposed amendments, including several that would bring the Internet under ITU jurisdiction and substantially change the architecture and governance of the Internet. Other proposals would, if adopted, give countries including Russia, China, and Iran UN sanctioned-authority to monitor and censor incoming and outgoing Internet traffic under the guise of improving “security.”
via forbes.com | UN Agency’s Leaked Playbook: Panic, Chaos over Anti-Internet Treaty