ITU and Internet Regulations: a fine mess
A few weeks ago, we published a post examining what to expect from the ITU WCIT conference in Dubai, which was set up to re-write the ITRs (International Telecoms Regulations) for the first time since 1988. We foresaw quite a lot of trouble, especially around the ITU’s proposed new role of regulating the Internet, in terms of both governance and business models.
If anything, the final outcome was even more dramatic than we expected. After two weeks of mostly plodding bureaucracy and behind-closed-doors horsetrading, the final result was an almighty row, a lot of uncertainty and ill-feeling - and perhaps a reduction in the ITU’s credibility. [Ed. We’ll be looking at market issues at the Silicon Valley Brainstorm, 19-20 March, San Francisco, and also at the EMEA Brainstorm in London, 5-6 June, and welcome your comments in the meantime.]
Despite the intention by the ITU Secretary General to avoid divisive votes and find “consensus”, in the end the outcome was decided by a numerical majority of countries supporting the new ITRs, and the distinct possibility of the globe’s telecoms regulations splitting (roughly) down authoritarian/libertarian lines into two domains.
Of the 144 states present and eligible to vote at the event in Dubai, 89 countries signed up at the time for the revised ITRs (final version here) - primarily developing-world nations from Africa, Asia, Latin America & Arabia. But 55 states did not, mostly developed economies from European, North America and the Pacific Rim, plus a few extras like India, Kenya and Chile. Another 50-odd countries either were not present, or couldn’t vote for technical reasons such as unpaid membership fees. While some signatories may not ratify the signed agreements in their parliaments, and some others may decide to sign up later after more consideration, it is clear that “consensus” is certainly not the outcome.
Represented graphically, the OECD+extras vs. Asia & Africa picture becomes more clear: http://www.ipv.sx/wcit/To share this article easily, please click: