An Unanswered Question in the Generally Correct Opposition to a Big ITU Role in the Internet

I strongly agree with the bipartisan consensus in the U.S. that the International Telecommunications Union should not gain new governance powers over the Internet. This coming December, there will be a major ITU conference in Dubai where there have been concerns about significant changes to the underlying ITU treaty.

From talking with people involved in the issue, my sense is that the risk of bad changes has subsided considerably. An administration memorandum from January discusses the progress made in the past year in fending off damaging proposals.  Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell recently published an excellent discussion of why those proposals would be bad.  (McDowell erred, however, when he gratuitously and incorrectly criticized the administration for not addressing the issue).  Civil society writers including Emma Llansó of CDT and Sophia Bekele concur.

In talking recently with one U.S. government official, however, here is one issue concerning the ITU and a possible UN role that has not been well addressed.  Many developing countries look to the UN for technical assistance and best practices.  These countries are facing a range of legal and policy issues, on topics that have been the subject of legislation in the U.S. and elsewhere: anti-spam, cybersecurity, phishing, domain name trademark disputes, data privacy, etc.  If you are working on these issues for Ghana or Sri Lanka or whatever, where do you get that technical assistance about the Internet?

That seems like a good-faith question.  Anybody have a good answer?

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1 Response

  1. Randy Bush says:

    the current itu deception game is in francophonic africa. the problem is that the regulators have little coordination for clue gathering [1] and are often well fenced off from the monopoly ptt and the (revolving door) ministry. there is an itu-generated treaty in front of them that will be a disaster for them, but the obfuscation is really well done.

    the itu: bridging the digital divide by the organization which brought you the analog divide.


    [1] – seven came to ietf in paris last month and hit the big “we speak english” barrier and did not get a lot of support to be integrated and get help addressing their issues.