ITU Cautious On Transparency Of New Telecom Regulations

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

The UN International Telecommunication Union will publish the draft document for the future International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) and open a website for public comments on the much-debated document. But some hoped for more. [Update: the draft ITRs are now posted here.]

The decision was made at a meeting of the ITU Council, the highest decision-making body in the ITU between the plenipotentiary conferences that take place every four years. The 1988 ITRs, according to the ITU the only international treaty on telecommunication, will be updated at a diplomatic conference in December, the World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT), in Dubai.

While the ITU named the publication of the draft ITR document, the so-called TD64, a landmark decision by the ITU Council, there were much more ambitious proposals with regard to making the WCIT process and ITU work in general more transparent.

Swedish Councillor Anders Jonsson told Intellectual Property Watch that his delegation was “not happy.” Sweden had favoured allowing the publication of all WCIT contributions, as well as individual country proposals, at least where countries clearly agreed with the publication.

Member states from all regions, according to Jonsson, had supported a bolder move with at least the publication of summary documents that included references to the country contributions. TD64, moreover, has been leaked already for some time now.

Yet several states, including WCIT host United Arab Emirates, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, blocked such proposals. As the new ITRs are expected to cover policies for the converging networks with some member states pushing also for cybersecurity measures or possibilities to intervene in the routing of traffic, a broad discussion has started warning against potential attempt to regulate the Internet.

ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré – in addition to the public consultation website opened by the ITU on TD64 – encouraged further national and regional consultations, as have been held or announced, for example, by the Netherlands, and Kenya and the African region.

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