The Chief of International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body which is set to review telecom regulations on Tuesday told news agency AFP that they will not discuss anything to do with Internet freedom. Such claims are “completely unfounded,” said Hamadoun Toure.
“I find it a very cheap way of attacking,” he added as the conference with 193 member states kicked off in Dubai.
Companies such as Google and advocates of free speech on the Internet have been campaigning against a possibility of the UN body deciding the future of Internet. In a blogpost yesterday, Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google wrote
…Starting in a few hours, a closed-door meeting of the world’s governments is taking place in Dubai, and regulation of the Internet is on the agenda. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is convening a conference from December 3-14 to revise a decades-old treaty, in which only governments have a vote. Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries.
The ITU chief said that the sessions weren’t closed door and that no proposal to deal with Internet regulations are being dealt with.
India and ITU
At the conference being held in Dubai from December 4- 13, a treaty called the International Telecom Regulations (ITRs) will be reviewed by the Union. This is the first time the treaty is being reviewed since 1988.
The Indian government had assured that it will only table a proposal which is arrived at through public consultations. In October 2012, Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrashekar had written to the government saying that the December discussions of ITU will extend the role of the UN body beyond setting technical standards and promotion of access to ICT into Internet regulations, technical issues and policy matters.
“A modification of ITRs could result in changes in the Internet’s architecture, operations, content regulation and security,” he wrote asking the government to hold open house discussions and create a consensus before signing anything at the December meeting.