UN Non-Takeover Of The Net: ITU’s Touré Calls For Documents To Be PublicPublished on 20 June 2012 @ 10:36 pm
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary General Hamadoun Touré today in Geneva announced he would propose to the ITU Council later this month to make the draft documents for the much-debated International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) publicly accessible.
According to participants at today’s meeting, Touré said he would also recommend a public consultation on the draft ITR, to be held during the last preparatory meeting for the December World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT) at which the ITR will be updated.
With this initiative, Touré is answering ever louder calls for access to ITR negotiations. He referred to an open letter from civil society sent to him about the issue in May and said, member states, too, could hold consultations on the controversial treaty. The Netherlands has already done so.
There was near-unanimous support for the opening up, with some member states urging not to wait for the Council meeting. The US delegation said that they had already made documents available.
Details on the upcoming Council meeting are here.
By opening up the documents, member state representatives also hope to address concerns that the ITR would lead to more ITU control over the net.
Touré strongly rejected the notion that the ITRs would impact the free flow of information. Restrictions on communication have been foreseen by governments in Article 34 of the ITU constitution, and according to Touré, such restrictions are in place in most member states to protect against copyright piracy, defamation, hate speech and also certain forms of political speech.
Touré also defended plans to address interconnection and traffic cost in the ITR, arguing that connectivity is still too expensive in many developing counties and international mobile roaming prices were seen as too high by many.
Yet the idea of a “sender pays” regime and potential limitations to a completely agnostic and neutral data transport network have resulted in stern warnings from the internet services and platform providers.
In the push for more transparency, a WCIT leaks website was set up.
A first background brief on the WCIT has been published by the ITU secretariat here [pdf].
Monika Ermert may be reached at email@example.com.