A petition to protect the Internet

July 12th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A group of like minded individuals and groups have launched a calling on the New Zealand Government to vote against extending the regulatory authority of the International Telecommunications Union to the .

The petition is here, and it takes less than a minute to sign.

Vote against the ITU having regulatory authority over the Internet Petition | GoPetition

The background to the petition is:

Right from inception, the Internet has had no central ruling authority. But this December, the International Telecommunications Union () is conducting a review of the international agreements governing telecommunications and aims to expand its regulatory authority to the Internet. 

Countries such as Russia which are advocating the ITU have regulatory authority over the Internet have advocated restrictions over the Internet “where it is used to interfere in the internal affairs of a state”. This represents a dramatic threat to the openness of the Internet, where countries could regulate content not just within their own borders, but over the entire Internet.

Geographically isolated nations such as New Zealand and other Pacific Island nations have a significant economic and social interest in an open and well functioning internet. Accordingly, such changes to the ITU may harm our social and economic well being more than other nations.

The ITU has been a closed organisation for nearly 150 years – they represent the antithesis of the Internet community’s open and inclusive approach. Civil society, private sector, technical experts, and Internet users will only have limited input in the process. This would be a significant departure from the open, participatory, multistakeholder model that has made the internet a successful driver of social and economic growth.

If you support the continuing evolution of the multistakeholder internet, you are invited to read and sign this statement of principles.

We are calling on the NZ Government to specifically:

We request the New Zealand Government to vote against any amendments to the International Telecommunications Regulations, to be considered at the World Conference on International telecommunications 2012 (WCIT-12) which would give the ITU regulatory authority over the Internet, as it is not a truly open and transparent multistakeholder institution, but ultimately a body controlled by Governments.

We also request the New Zealand Government to take a pro-active stance in advocating to other states the benefits of retaining the current open and transparent multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet and to invest in proactive representation and promotion of the Internet as a vital, global platform for access to information and communication, and an enabler of economic and social opportunity.

Again, feel free to sign and promote the petition within your networks. This is an important issue.

11 Responses to “A petition to protect the Internet”

  1. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    Oh goody, the half-baked paranoid know-nothings on the United States right want to open another front in their insane war on reason. The ITU is not a “closed organisation”. This is a ridiculous statement. How is it anymore “closed” than DARPA or CERN? Who, exactly, gave ICANN, an American based organisation, a God given right to retain control of IP addresses and domain name allocation? Why shouldn’t the ITU, a highly successful regulatory body with a stellar track record, take over these roles?

    The ITU was established to provide a minimum set of internationally agreed protocol conventions for voice and data communication in the emergent data space from the days when ISDN was first defined by the CCITT. In that, it has been a highly successful (counting Q931, C7, H323 and IMSI amongst its standards), non-controversial and effective standards organisation that everyone liked with one exception. The United States was never really that happy that because of the ITU it could not exercise hegemonistic control of the standards used for telecommunications, with the all subsequent competitive edge that would have provided to U.S. telecommunications providers who could effectively have become the de facto standards providers for the world’s telephone services.

    The circuit switched network is being retired in favour of pure packet switched data networks for VoIP and Voice over internet. Given that more and more voice is being carried over pure packet switched networks with no reference back to the PSTN it makes perfect sense to everyone except paranoid wingnuts in the United States that the ITU should start regulating the standards around packet switching. Given the non-controversial history of success of the ITU (I haven’t even mentioned the role It’s played in the international liberalisation of telecommunications) I can see why this is a very good idea that requires very good reasons (i.e. not it is all part of a secret plot for world government) not to proceed. The ITU is a transparent organisation – it could hardly not be, given that all its standards need to be discussed and agreed on by engineers from all its participating 190 or so countries. The ITU is multi-stakeholder body. It primary crime seems to be that it isn’t American.

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  2. bhudson (4,770 comments) says:


    The move to have the ITU recognised as the regulatory body for the Internet is nothing more than an attempt by the UN to advance it’s agenda to regulate sovereign nations. If they succeed in this move, you can be sure the recent announcement on the importance of Internet access will rapidly become decreed as a human right through their new Internet regulator.

    [While universal access to the Internet is of value and something that we should aspire to as a global community of sovereign nations, it is not a human right.]

    The UN has a useful purpose. The regulation of the Internet is not it.

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  3. fish_boy (152 comments) says:

    All I can say is thank God that loony tunes like bhudson weren’t around in 1988, otherwise we’d still be using operators to make international calls.

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  4. bhudson (4,770 comments) says:


    Having a role in establishing conventions around telecommunications carrier protocols (physical transmission protocols) does not mandate a requirement to have a regulatory role over the content traversing the network.

    (Content, in this sense, is not simply web content, video, or the like, but also the protocols and services that are encapsulated in the frames/packets/wavelengths of those carrier transmission networks – such as TCP/IP, DNS and their naming/addressing conventions.)

    The UN does not have a role as chief regulator of the Internet.

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  5. jaba (2,181 comments) says:


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  6. wikiriwhis business (5,174 comments) says:

    Judge tells Kiwis to speak up on copyright

    New Zealanders need to involve themselves in a forthcoming review of copyright law or they will “suffer what the conglomerates and corporates” hand to them, says a District Court Judge.

    Speaking from the audience at yesterday’s NetHui conference, Judge David Harvey said copyright concerned everybody and urged people to become interested.


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  7. somewhatthoughtful (494 comments) says:

    It’s hard to know whether this will be better or worse than ICANN. I think it’s a good thing, remember right now the americans are able to just pull sites from the dns with no good reason.

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  8. anonymouse (891 comments) says:

    +1 fish_boy

    Right from inception, the Internet has had no central ruling authority.

    Not strictly true, the ultimate power (a big binary on off switch in the form of the root zone file) is still held by the US government, granted the management is devolved to ICANN, but the ultimate power in the universe still rests with the US Govt.

    While most of the woolly natured pontifications that come from the UN are just stupid, the ITU is a different kettle of fish,

    simply saying that the status quo is wonderful and we should not look at alternate governance model for the nuts and bolts of the Internet is simply paranoia run amok…

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  9. rangitoto (877 comments) says:

    The ITU were a miserable failure when they attempted to establish their own inter networking protocols. Anyone remember the mess that was OSI. Leave the ITU’s bloated committees pondering electrical signalling or something they can’t do any harm with.

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  10. rangitoto (877 comments) says:

    Actually I had forgotten OSI was promoted by ISO rather than ITU. Same sort of problem though. Their committees are just too cumbersome. We would still be on dialup if the ITU where running the show.

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  11. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    bhudson is right. This is a thinly-veiled attepmt by the UN to expand their control. Remeber that the UN passed a resolution (put up by the 57-nation “Organisation of Islamic Cooperation”) against what they called the “defamation” of religion. ( A weasel word for **criticism** of religion. )

    So – if the ITU got Internet control, then what is to stop various Islamic countries “leaning” on them to block (or have removed) any site that (say) criticises Islam (or indeed, any site that simply criticises their governments)?
    What is to stop that happening?

    What about the UN itself? Having passed a resolution against the criticism (sorry – “defamation”) of religion – what is to then stop the UN itself leaning on its subgroup the ITU to shut down sites critical of Islam (or critical of anything else)?

    The UN is the most corrupt group in the world, and I am sure that the ITU would be as susceptible to bribery as anyone.

    THAT is why I signed the petition. I will not have the group that hosts the Clark-beast controlling the Internet.

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