An attempt by national governments to establish a worldwide policy for oversight of the internet collapsed after many Western countries – including New Zealand – said a compromise plan gave too much power to United Nations and other officials.
As I said, compromise is only good when both sides basically want the same thing. It is bad when one set of Governments want to control the Internet.
Delegates from the United States, UK, Australia and other countries took the floor on the next to last day of a UN conference in Dubai to reject revisions to a treaty governing international phone calls and data traffic.
“It’s with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the US must communicate that it’s not able to sign the agreement in the current form,” said Terry Kramer, the US ambassador to the gathering of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union.
While other countries will sign the treaty on Friday, the absence of so many of the largest economies means that the document, already watered down to suit much of the West, will have little practical force.
Hopefully this has been a valuable lesson to some of the more authoritarian countries. By trying to sneak in a resolution on greater ITU involvement, they ended up with all the major countries (in telecommunications terms) refusing to sign up to the revised treaty at all. This means that the 1988 regulations continue for countries like New Zealand.
“Maybe in the future we could come to a fragmented internet,” delegate Andrey Mukhanov, a top international official at Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, told Reuters. “That would be negative for all, and I hope our American, European colleagues come to a constructive position.”
Ha, they can bluster but a fragmented Internet will have far greater disadvantages for the authoritarian states than the free ones. They’re welcome to go set up their own private Internet of China, Russia and the Middle East and see how many people use it.
Tariq al-Awadhi of the United Arab Emirates, head of the Arab States’ delegation, said his group had been “double-crossed” by the US bloc after it had agreed to a compromise deal that moved internet issues out of the main treaty and into a nonbinding resolution that said the ITU should be part of the multi-stakeholder model.
There was no compromise. 30 countries voted against the resolution and under UN rules the resolution should not have been accepted as it did not have consensus.
89 countries will sign the revised treaty, but 55 countries will not. Those 55 would I’d say represent 90% of the Internet infrastructure at least. The countries are shown here. Basically Africa (bar Malawi and Gambia) all signed, Asia, (except Japan), all signed. Europe pretty much all against including Belarus and Georgia. US and Canada against and Central and Latin America split. Australia and NZ not signing also of course.
I wish this was the end of the battle, but there are other conferences coming up, where the same countries will try again.