On Friday evening, I posted on CNET a detailed analysis of the most recent proposal to surface from the secretive upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT 12. The conference will discuss updates to a 1988 UN treaty administered by the International Telecommunications Union, and throughout the year there have been reports that both governmental and non-governmental members of the ITU have been trying to use the rewrite to put the ITU squarely in the Internet business.
The Russian federation’s proposal, which was submitted to the ITU on Nov. 13th, would explicitly bring “IP-based Networks” under the auspices of the ITU, and would in specific substantially if not completely change the role of ICANN in overseeing domain names and IP addresses.
According to the proposal, “Member States shall have the sovereign right to manage the Internet within their national territory, as well as to manage national Internet domain names.” And a second revision, also aimed straight at the heart of today’s multi-stakeholder process, reads: “Member States shall have equal rights in the international allocation of Internet addressing and identification resources.”
Of course the Russian Federation, along with other repressive governments, uses every opportunity to gain control over the free flow of information, and sees the Internet as it’s most formidable enemy. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure that Russia was keen on the idea of “establishing international control over the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capability of the International Telecommunications Union.”
As I point out in the CNET piece, the ITU’s claims that WCIT has nothing to do with Internet governance and that the agency itself has no stake in expanding its jurisdiction ring more hollow all the time. Days after receiving the Russian proposal, the ITU wrote in a post on its blog that, “There have not been any proposals calling for a change from the bottom-up multistakeholder model of Internet governance to an ITU-controlled model.”
This would appear to be an outright lie, and also a contradiction of an earlier acknowledgment by Dr. Touré. In a September interview, Toure told Bloomberg BNA that “Internet Governance as we know it today,” concerns only “Domain Names and addresses. These are issues that we’re not talking about at all,” Touré said. “We’re not pushing that, we don’t need to.”
Touré, expanding on his emailed remarks, told BNA that the proposals that appear to involve the ITU in internet numbering and addressing were preliminary and subject to change.
‘These are preliminary proposals,’ he said, ‘and I suspect that someone else will bring another counterproposal to this, we will analyze it and say yes, this is going beyond, and we’ll stop it.’
Another tidbit from the BNA Interview that now seems ironic:
Touré disagreed with the suggestion that numerous proposals to add a new section 3.5 to the ITRs might have the effect of expanding the treaty to internet governance.
‘That is telecommunication numbering,’ he said, something that preceded the internet. Some people, Touré added, will hijack a country code and open a phone line for pornography. ‘These are the types of things we are talking about, and they came before the internet.’
I haven’t seen all of the proposals, of course, which are technically secret. But the Russian proposal’s most outrageous amendments are contained in a proposed new section 3A, which is titled, “IP-based Networks.”
There’s more on the ITU’s subterfuge in Friday’s CNET piece, as well as these earlier posts:
1. “Why is the UN Trying to Take Over the Internet?” Forbes.com, Aug 9, 2012.
2. “UN Agency Reassures: We Just Want to Break the Internet, Not Take it Over,” Forbes.com, Oct. 1, 2012.