The ITU and the Internet's Titanic Moment by Patrick S. Ryan
Posted in: Governance at 10/09/2012 14:11
Try this: Mention the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to a few casual Internet users, Netizens, or even the most senior-level computer programmers and technology experts and gauge their reaction. Few are likely to know what you're talking about. Most will likely think you're referring to either a telecommunications labor union or some kind of international working group.
Only the most informed will know that the ITU is one of the most influential (and in fact the oldest) technology-based standard-setting and treaty-making institutions in the world. While it's now a subsidiary of the United Nations (UN), the ITU predated the UN by more than 75 years, having been founded in 1865 to help coordinate the international standardization of telegraph signals. One of the most memorable forays that the ITU made into the international legal system happened 100 years ago when the seeds were planted for the ITU to take on the role of intergovernmental coordination on spectrum matters in the wake of the Titanic disaster. Today, the ITU's primary mandate is for all intents and purposes limited to telecommunications; however, the ITU is currently working to gain relevancy in the areas of Internet security, privacy, and it is setting up a shop to compete with the open standardization bodies that built the Internet.
To continue reading this article by Patrick Ryan in the Stanford Technology Law Review, go to: