The International Telecommunications Union or "ITU" is a treaty based organization under the control of the UN. Next week in Geneva the diplomatic process is beginning where a bunch of countries including Russia and China are pushing to throw out the 1988 international treaty that has allowed multiple private (non-governmental) parties to keep a bottom's up governance model with the internet. Needless to say, the internet, business and even individuals have thrived in immeasurable ways. As the Wall Street Journal points out:
Net access, especially through mobile devices, is improving the human condition more quickly—and more fundamentally—than any other technology in history. Nowhere is this more true than in the developing world, where unfettered Internet technologies are expanding economies and raising living standards.
Farmers who live far from markets are now able to find buyers for their crops through their Internet-connected mobile devices without assuming the risks and expenses of traveling with their goods. Worried parents are able to go online to locate medicine for their sick children. And proponents of political freedom are better able to share information and organize support to break down the walls of tyranny.So what's the problem? Simple, governments and bureaucracies have been cut out. First and foremost, no revenue. Heaven forbid that there be commerce without the leeches sucking some money out. Worse still, you have an Arab Spring, protests in Beijing and demonstrators in Moscow. Can't have that, can we. And certainly the new world order, er, I mean the UN bureaucracy has never seen an opportunity for growth and centralized control that it did not like. The Wall Street Journal article outlines some of the proposed changes:
So what has the Obama administration done about this impending challenge that threatens freedom and free commerce? Nothing. As in they haven't even appointed a delegate to for the US in the treaty negotiations.Reading even a partial list of proposals that could be codified into international law next December at a conference in Dubai is chilling:• Subject cyber security and data privacy to international control;• Allow foreign phone companies to charge fees for "international" Internet traffic, perhaps even on a "per-click" basis for certain Web destinations, with the goal of generating revenue for state-owned phone companies and government treasuries;• Impose unprecedented economic regulations such as mandates for rates, terms and conditions for currently unregulated traffic-swapping agreements known as "peering."• Establish for the first time ITU dominion over important functions of multi-stakeholder Internet governance entities such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity that coordinates the .com and .org Web addresses of the world;• Subsume under intergovernmental control many functions of the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Society and other multi-stakeholder groups that establish the engineering and technical standards that allow the Internet to work;• Regulate international mobile roaming rates and practices.