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European Parliament joins clamour opposing UN control of the Internet

Members of the European Parliament have added to calls for the Internet to be kept out of the UN’s hands ahead of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), set to take place in Dubai next month.

It is the first time telecoms regulations have been discussed on an international level since 1988, when the Internet did not exist as we now know it. Though the net has no centralised governance, the United States’ Department of Commerce has effectively dictated most decisions made on Internet regulation, via the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and other agencies.

The International Telecommunications Union, a UN organisation, is hosting the WCIT from 3 December, but the build-up has so far been plagued by widespread concerns over the impending treaty. Commentators and organisations have stated that ceding power to national governments could hinder the free flow of online communications by allowing scope for tighter Internet policing and censorship.

Google has already publicised its apprehension over a UN treaty, and European MPs have now followed suit.

"The ITU, or any other single international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over the Internet," said a resolution drawn up by Dutch parliamentarian Marietje Schaake, reports The site says the resolution was approved by “an overwhelming majority of Members of the European Parliament,” who opposed the ITU itself becoming the “ruling power of the Internet.” The declaration urges EU member states to block changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations in Dubai that could be harmful to freedom of expression online, as well as the openness and neutrality of the Internet.

Following a keynote from journalist Misha Glenny at the RSA security conference in London last month, ITProPortal assessed the health of our online world and the significance of the WCIT in Dubai as nations battle for control of the Internet.