Skip to main content

US denies threatening to walk out of Internet governance talks

Ambassador Terry Kramer, lead representative for the US at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, has refuted claims of an impending American walkout. Reports surfaced suggesting that the US delegation had threatened to pull out of Internet governance talks, which are being held in Dubai, as proposed regulations from a contingent of Arab states were viewed as non-negotiable.

"In the past few days, a small number of media reports have characterised the United States as 'threatening' to withdraw from the WCIT negotiations. These speculative reports are inaccurate and unhelpful to the Conference," wrote Kramer in a series of Twitter posts.

"The United States has made no such threat, and it remains fully committed to achieving a successful conclusion to the WCIT. The U.S. Delegation will continue to provide information to the media as negotiations continue throughout this week."

The 22-page proposal in dispute outlines possible amendments to the international telecommunications treaty, which would give "governments, the private sector and civil society" regulatory powers over the Internet. Furthermore, the attending 193 countries would be given equal say in the administration of the Domain Name System, a role currently held by the US-affiliated ICANN.

The prospective guidelines are being backed by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Palestine and Russia, with the US leading an opposing cadre of Western states, including the UK.

The US has been vocal critic of the WCIT talks even prior to the conference's commencement. It is not alone in this regard, with the EU also recently speaking out against the proposition of a tightly regulated Internet.

"I think it's important that these existing structures continue to be used without any attempt to bypass them. These organisations have been around for a number of years and I think it would be a disruptive threat to the stability of the system for people to try to set up alternative organisations to do the standards," said Sir Tim Berners-Lee last week.