[news release] A new policy brief from ITU and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), finds that high costs for Internet access relative to income remain one of the main barriers to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) services worldwide. Taking income differences into account, a mobile broadband subscription with at least 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of data costs around four times more in developing countries than in developed ones.
Russia is engaged in a brazen but little noticed effort to set new rules for cyberspace — even as it flouts the existing ones. Last week, in an encouraging step, a United Nations telecommunications body pushed back.
While virtually all urban areas in the world are covered by a mobile-broadband network, worrying gaps in connectivity and Internet access persist in rural areas, according to Measuring Digital Development: Facts and figures 2020, a new report launched today by the International Telecommunication Union. This matters even more due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Universal broadband access is the vital catalyst needed to drive global economic recovery and accelerate lacklustre progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to a new report released by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published Connecting Humanity – Assessing investment needs of connecting humanity to the Internet by 2030, a comprehensive new study that estimates the investment needed to achieve universal, affordable broadband connectivity for all humanity by the end of this decade.
Women, ICT and Emergency Telecommunications: Opportunities and Constraints, a new report from ITU and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), highlights that equal access to information and communication technology (ICT) can save lives in emergencies, including during pandemics. Conversely, the digital gender divide is blocking women from becoming equal stakeholders in society, putting entire communities at greater risk during emergencies.
Continue reading New UN report shows closing the gender divide can save lives in emergencies, including pandemics
Children who have suffered abuse, who were robbed of their childhood and instead carry guilt and shame … children who are at risk of future atrocities … it is for all these children that we are here today.
[International Telecommunication Union] From cutting emissions in cities to natural disaster risk reduction, smart water management and precise climate monitoring, frontier technologies in fields such as artificial intelligence, 5G and robotics demonstrate considerable potential to support the battle against climate change, highlights a new ITU/UN report, “Frontier technologies to protect the environment and tackle climate change”. The report was released to mark the occasion of Earth Day 2020.Continue reading Frontier technologies are key tools to combat climate change
The International Telecommunication Unionâs (ITU) World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) concluded its Dubai meeting in some disarray last week, with 89 nations (with a collective population of 2.6 billion) signing the revised International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR) and 54 (with a collective population of 3.8 billion) abstaining and thereby effectively saying âNoâ. Ironically, the host nations of the next two ICANN meetings â China and South Africa â voted in favor of an ITR that appears to favor replacing ICANNâs multi-stakeholder Internet governance model with one that would cede far more power to governments that want to censor the free flow of information and commerce. The WCITâs conclusion inspired some predictions that a new virtual âcold warâ had commenced, with a real danger that ICANNâs vision of âone world, one Internetâ could be replaced by âone world, many Internetsâ.
U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, in clear defense of ICANN, cited Internet governance as one of the five key reasons why the U.S. had abstained from approving the ITR: âNumber four, internet governance. In several proposals, it was clear that some administrations were seeking to insert government control over internet governance, specifically internet naming and addressing functions. We continue to believe these issues can only be legitimately handled through multi-stakeholder organizations.â www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/rm/2012/202040.htm
Now it will be several years before all the nations signing the ITR can actually get through their formal processes for doing so, and even if they do so it will not necessarily translate into a balkanized and censored Internet. So the jury is still out on the full ramifications of Dubai. And, even without the ITR, there is nothing to stop any government from trying to curtail its citizensâ free access to the Internet — and there are numerous examples today where they are doing so. The real danger would come if the Internet functions presently conducted by open and transparent multi-stakeholder groups became the exclusive province of governments operating with the authority of an international organization in which other stakeholders were relegated to the sidelines.
Given post-WCIT uncertainty of the Internetâs future course, and the divided opinion over whether ICANN is getting the Internet governance job done in an effective, balanced and trustworthy manner, it would seem especially important for ICANN to go about its work in a maximally criticism-proof manner. Yet today we are witnessing a fierce and unprecedented debate over whether ICANN is formulating policy in an even-handed and predictably consistent manner.
That present debate is over the âStrawman Modelâ that grew out of the recent Trademark Clearinghouse meetings conducted by new ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade. ICA has previously expressed its concern that these meetings were invitation-only, not publicly noticed, and provided for no remote participation or even observation. CEO Chehadeâs most recent ICANN Blog post on this subject can be found at blog.icann.org/2012/11/a-follow-up-to-our-trademark-clearinghouse-meetings/ , and in it he pledged, âI will be sending a message to the GNSO Council asking it for guidance on the Scope of Trademark Claims. In addition, the strawman model will be posted this week for public comment.â
He followed up on these commitments with a December 4th letter to the GNSO in which he stated âI am seeking policy guidance from the GNSO Council on two items as part of the next steps for the implementation of the TMCH, namely, the Strawman Proposal and the IPC/BC proposal for limited defensive registrations.â gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/council/msg13964.htmlAnd ICANN has posted a request for public comment on the Strawman Model at www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/tmch-strawman-30nov12-en.htm, with an original comment deadline of December 21st now pushed back to January 15, 2013.
ICA will of course comment on the substance of the proposals being considered, but for now we want to dwell about more about concerns arising from the process by which this purported âSolutionâ has been created. Rather than expand on our earlier thoughts (see internetcommerce.org/LA_Straw%28Man%29 ) weâd like to cite some comments recently made by others that we find of particular merit.
Our prior post had cited the critique issued by Robin Gross, head of ICANNâs Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group, in which she forcefully stated, âWe have the same obligations to accountability to the community, transparency of process, and equality of participation among impacted stakeholders in the development of policy at intercessional meetings that we have at other policy development meetings. Neither executive decisions nor private negotiations among select parties fulfill ICANN’s commitment to the bottom-up multi-stakeholder policy development process.â (Emphasis added/ see www.circleid.com/posts/20121119_icanns_11th_hour_domain_name_trademark_policy_negotiations/).
More recently, the recently departed head of the GNSO Council itself, StÃ©phane Van Gelder, expressed concern that the manner in which the Strawman Model had been developed constituted a direct attack on ICANNâs multi-stakeholder model, âThe basic premise of the ICANN system is simple and fair: get all parties to work together, give everyone an equal voice, and act on whatever consensus emerges. ICANN insiders have coined this the “multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, policy development process”â¦ But to some, this system has a major flaw: it doesn’t always allow them to get their way. Because ICANN policy making is based on consensus, any progress has to rely on some measure of give from parties. It can’t all be takeâ¦So what to do when the outcome isn’t exactly what you wanted? Most accept the result and console themselves with the knowledge that doing so strengthens this new governance model. But some never stop looking for any opening to push through their views. Even though by doing so, they are actually endangering the system as whole.â (Emphasis added/ see www.circleid.com/posts/20121102_attacking_the_multi_stakeholder_model/)
Likewise, long-time ICANN participant and current principal of leading gTLD program applicant Donutsâ Jon Nevett wrote a detailed explanation of his concerns about the Strawman process and proposal, expressing these concerns, âThe ICANN community is ever closer to realization of its goal to bring long-overdue consumer choice and competition to Internet naming. Regrettably, but perhaps predictably, reliance on the Final Applicant Guidebook (AGB) is being challenged at the last minute by recent proposals from the Business and Intellectual Property Constituencies (BC/IPC), which demand “improvements” to the already extensive trademark protections that will be part of the new gTLD landscape. Equally disturbing is ICANN staff’s apparent willingness to accommodate the demands with an end-around process that may grant intrusive changes. The end result could be one that violates ICANN’s accountability principles and its commitment to marketplace fairness, and scoffs at the community’s extensive collaboration on the issue of rights protections.â (Emphasis added/ see www.circleid.com/posts/20121129_new_gtlds_last_minute_end_arounds_and_fundamental_fairness/)
A great deal of the debate over the Strawman Modelâs elements concerns whether they are mere implementation tweaks of existing rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) developed for the new gTLD program, or new policies that require full multi-stakeholder and GNSO consideration under established policy development procedures. For our part, we have great concerns about any process that allows a select and non-representative slice of the broad ICANN community to plant the seeds of any new policy, when following standard procedures might have produced a very different starting point â or a decision to not begin at all.
Neustar Vice President and GNSO Council member Jeffrey Neuman shared his views on this critical distinction: âThe real issue is that new reliance on the terms “policy” vs. “implementation.” Â This is the issue that should receive top priorityâ¦when one group wants something in place without using the policy process, they call it “implementation.”Â Those that oppose it, call it “policy.”â¦ The now infamous New gTLD “straw-man”:Â For the record, I was a part of the group that discussed the straw man in Brussels and LA over the past few weeks.Â I found those discussions very useful and appreciate the efforts being made by the new ICANN CEO, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for.Â I believe he truly will make a huge positive impact on ICANN for many years to come.Â But, now the debate has turned into what is policy and what is implementation.Â The IPC/BC and their representatives have called all of their proposals “implementation”.Â Â The NCSG, Registries, Registrars and Applicants have called much of it policy.Â ICANN staff has now weighed in on their thoughts and have classified certain items as implementation (thereby negating the need for GNSO policy development), and other items as policy, thereby requiring extensive involvement from the GNSO communityâ¦ I believe we all need to take a step back from the issues immediately and decide once and for all an agreed upon bottom-up multi-stakeholder definition of what is “policy” and what is “implementation.”Â Or at the very least a framework for making that assessment when issues ariseâ¦ I believe the future of the GNSO, and even the multi-stakeholder model in general hinge on the definition of these 2 words.â (Emphasis added/see gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/council/msg13890.html)
Finally, ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte recently announced that âI have received a complaint about the process used in the recent Trademark Clearinghouse meetingsâ. That prompted ICANN veteran and law professor Mary Wong, who played a key role in designing the current RPMs, to post a comment stating in part, âIn short, and possibly regardless of the actual motivation for or outcome of these meetings, the fact that they were held and, more particularly, how they were conducted, naturally gives rise to some concern on the part of the rest of the ICANN community â especially those who have limited means or connections within âICANN-landâ but who are deeply concerned about many of the issues worked on by the GNSO and other groups â as to their ability to meaningfully participate in ICANN policy development and decision making.â Â Â https://omblog.icann.org/?p=827#comments
We know all these people, as well as many others who have deep reservations about the deviation from standard procedures that resulted in the âStrawman Modelâ, and we know that they, like we, strongly support ICANN and its multi-stakeholder process. If ICANNâs strongest adherents begin to doubt its commitment to a transparent, fair, and consistent policy development process, then its ability to fend off future attacks, whether from the ITU or other quarters, will be substantially diminished.
We have been favorably impressed by CEO Chehadeâs first months in his position, and we admire his âhands onâ approach to meeting commitments resolving challenges as expeditiously as possible. But itâs clear to us, not only from the process by which the Strawman was developed but by some of its component parts, that repeating this approach in the future would be a very large mistake that would risk substantially weakening ICANN as an organization and even jeopardize its long-term viability.
No one can get everything they want in a multi-stakeholder process. Letâs hope that every stakeholder remembers that pursuing repeated end runs and workarounds in single-minded pursuit of the last possible scrap of policy success risks the very future of ICANNâs multi-stakeholder model. Â
Note: To see a list, as well as a map, of the nations that did and did not indicate they would sign the WCIT ITR agreement see www.techdirt.com/articles/20121214/14133321389/who-signed-itu-wcit-treaty-who-didnt.shtml
It was the most likely outcome. Predictable even. But the US led a walkout of delegates from mostly western countries at the conclusion of the 12 day World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai yesterday, saying they were unable to agree to any changes in internet governance.
Changes proposed would have impacted on roles such as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authorityâs role in being responsible for the operation and maintenance of a number of key aspects of the domain name system (DNS).
The US delegate to the WCIT announced that the âUS must communicate that it is not able to sign the agreement in the current form.â
We candidly cannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance.
In a statement delivered from the floor of the conference, Ambassador Terry Kramer went on to say the US âcannot support an ITU treaty that is inconsistent with a multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. As the ITU has stated, this conference was never meant to focus on internet issues; however, today we are in a situation where we still have text and resolutions that cover issues on spam and also provisions on internet governance. These past two weeks, we have of course made good progress and shown a willingness to negotiate on a variety of telecommunications policy issues, such as roaming and settlement rates, but the United States continues to believe that internet policy must be multi-stakeholder driven. Internet policy should not be determined by member states but by citizens, communities, and broader society, and such consultation from the private sector and civil society is paramount. This has not happened here.â
The position was supported by a wide range of mostly western countries, with the US, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Egypt, Canada, Poland, Qatar and Kenya all objecting to the changes and not being in a position of not being able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.
But the changes that will be agreed upon by a range of countries, mostly in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, could mean the internet develops differently in different regions.
On Wednesday night a ânon-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency’s leadership should âcontinue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the multi-stakeholder model of the internet,â” reported BBC News.
This was opposed by the US and European governments.
While the treaty is due to be signed at 13:30 GMT on Friday, it was predictable that western countries, led by the US would object to any changes to internet governance as they had been resolute at the outset there were certain changes they would not countenance.
For more information, see the news reports below.
US, UK and Canada refuse to sign UN’s internet treaty
Talks on Internet treaty fail as U.S. bloc won’t sign
U.N. summit implodes as U.S., others spurn Internet treaty
U.S. Intervention at the World Conference on International Telecommunications: statement delivered by Ambassador Terry Kramer from the floor of the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) on December 13, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
WCIT Split After Split âVoteâ On Internet Governance Resolution
Internet humbles UN telecoms agency
Why the ITU is the wrong place to set Internet standards
U.S. Snubs U.N. Telecom Treaty With Rest Of West At Dubai Conference [AP]
The Masters of the Internet by Timothy Karr, Campaign Director, Free Press and SavetheInternet.com