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WCIT-12 stumbles… we couldn’t be happier

wcit-12 keep internet free

Stephan Lourens
Born 20 years too early. Curses sometimes. Thinks too much. Believes plug-and-play is the best invention ever. If asked what he wants for his birthday he will... More

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In two separate reports no more than a month ago, we reported on the WCIT-12 that took place in Dubai from 3 November 2012. This conference was to re-negotiate an old treaty drawn up before the internet even existed, but some will tell you it was to garner support for certain countries to have full control over what its people can see, or not see, online.

The negotiations have now ended, with the result that the US, UK, Canada and some key African nations have refused to sign the treaty and are “not able to sign the agreement in its current form”. The US’s Terry Kramer said that: “The internet has given the world unimaginable economic and social benefit during these past 24 years. All without UN regulation. We candidly cannot support an ITU Treaty that is inconsistent with the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance.” That basically means that the countries who do not agree with the treaty see the internet as an open, free and independent international service, not to be tampered with or regulated.

This flies in the face of countries like Russia, Iran and China, who are known for already regulating what citizens in their country can access on the internet, and who are the nations who proposed the most changes to this treaty. Joining the US in this refusal to commit were the UK, Canada, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Qatar and Sweden.

The ITU, which organised and headed the conference, has come under fire even before the start for “behind closed doors” meetings, for not being open about what is going to be discussed and wanting to control the internet. Kieren McCarthy, from internet consultants dot-nxt and who has followed the conference throughout, reported how Russia, stumbling over their own feet “first submitted, then revised, then pulled, then resubmitted an explosive contribution that effectively undermined the existing global structures that make the Internet work.” McCarthy has been one of the foremost publishers of material from the WCIT-12 that would not have reached public eyes.

According to a Guardian report, McCarthy said “attendees were stunned to find a conference style and approach stuck in the 1970s.” Yeah well, some countries are still stuck in the seventies…