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UN Dubai talks disrupted by hackers

Hackers have seemingly attacked the World Conference of International Telecommunications on Wednesday as the home website was brought offline for two hours.

Attendees were frustrated by their inability to access necessary information relating to prospective amendments to the communications treaty.

"It is ironic that the very people who claim to be fighting for a free internet are preventing those around the world trying to follow the event online from getting access," said ITU secretary general, Hamadoun Toure.

"Do they believe in one rule for them, and one for everyone else?"

It is believed that the attacks are a retort to the earlier adoption of confidential recommendations proposed by China. The new standard institutes the use of deep packet inspections (DPIs) - a technique that can be used for surveillance of online behaviour – by member states.

A possible application for DPIs is the tracking of digital piracy by service providers, while critics fear that it may lead to Internet censorship.

“The telecommunications standards arm of the U.N. has quietly endorsed the standardization of technologies that could give governments and companies the ability to sift through all of an Internet user’s traffic – including emails, banking transactions, and voice calls – without adequate privacy safeguards. The move suggests that some governments hope for a world where even encrypted communications may not be safe from prying eyes,” read a statement from The Center for Democracy & Technology.

“Although the upcoming WCIT has been garnering all the attention lately, the global telecom confab in Dubai actually began last week at WTSA. The approval of the DPI standard provides new evidence of the dangers of WCIT proposals related to mandatory standards and cyber-security.”

This has been a sentiment echoed by many commentators who fear that the WCIT could lead to policies that are detrimental to the maintenance of an open Internet.