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Some governments want more control over the Internet via ITU

There has lately been controversy over proposals made by several countries, such as Russia and China, to give more control over the Internet to the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Key functions of the internet as naming, numbering, addressing and identification are now carried out by ICANN, based in the US independent IANA, and national and regional agencies. Presently, ITU has some managing powers of the internet, such as promoting IPv6 awareness and coordinating international cybersecurity efforts. ITU?s international telecommunications regulations (ITRS), a treaty dating since 1988 (therefore before the existence of the web) are now under discussions to be revised and therefore, several parties have made proposals for the revision of the regulations. The Russian premier Vladimir Putin said in a meeting with ITU chief Hamadoun Toure: "We are thankful to you for the ideas that you have proposed for discussion. One of them is establishing international control over the internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the International Telecommunication Union."

In September 2011, countries like China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, submitted a proposal to the UN general assembly for an "international code of conduct for information security with the purpose to set up government-led "international norms and rules standardising the behaviour of countries concerning information and cyberspace".

In December 2012 in Dubai, ITU members will discuss, among other things, the introduction of the internet into ITU existing regulatory framework. Although the preparation of the meeting is kept secret, WCITleaks.org has revealed the proposals for ITU to take over more control powers.

EU digital commissioner Neelie Kroes stated on 24 August 2012 that, although the governments might have more to say in the way the Internet runs, she was against ITU taking over control of the internet although some governments might have other opinions: "Of course there are voices saying it would be better with the UN [but] I'm not in favour of the line that, if you have a problem, you can only solve it in a new structure," Kroes who added:"I still think that the remarks that are made [about giving governments a greater voice] can be included in a solution within the structure of today," she said. "I'm not aware that that can't be done, so I'm not willing to (favour) a new structure."

While the US Congress opposes the proposal of the UN agency to take control over the Internet, it is also not even clear whether ITU wants to assume this kind of control. Hamadoun Toure said there was "no single reference to Internet governance in the preparation document".

No need for UN to take over internet, says EU digital chief Kroes (24.08.2012)

The fight for control of the internet has become critical (22.08.2012)

Michelle Paulson
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Wikimedia Foundation
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