Somewhat unsurprisingly, the United States appears determined to prevent its control of the Internet passing into the hands of the United Nations.
Several non-profit US organisations, such as ICANN, currently oversee the net’s specifications to make sure it remains secure and stable. These bodies work under the US Department of Commerce, gifting the States virtual hegemony over our online world.
The UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is responsible for the relevant technologies across the globe and facilitates the World Congress on International Telecommunication (WCIT), where Internet regulations are discussed. But the last WCIT to update the regulations took place way back in 1988 when the net was very much in its infancy, meaning the innumerable changes to online communications have remained unfettered from bodies outside the US sphere.
Many were hoping the 1988 treaty would be revised to alter this status quo at the next WCIT - due to be held in Dubai at the end of this year - but the US has already declared its opposition to any handover in control.
Claiming the lack of regulation on the Internet has been a key factor in its growth and success, US documents filed with the ITU state, “The US is concerned that proposals by some other governments could lead to greater regulatory burdens being placed on the international telecom sector, or perhaps even extended to the Internet sector - a result the US would oppose.”
Terry Kramer, who will head the US delegation in Dubai, added, “We will not support any effort to broaden the scope of the ITRs [International Telecommunications Regulations] to facilitate any censorship of content or blocking the free flow of information and ideas.”
“The United States also believes that the existing multi-stakeholder institutions, incorporating industry and civil society, have functioned effectively and will continue to ensure the health and growth of the Internet and all of its benefits.”
Kramer’s rhetoric suggests the UN will have a difficult job wrestling any power away from the States. ITProPortal will be keeping abreast of all the developments before the WCIT in December.