The ITU and Unbundling Internet Governance

At this month’s Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Busan, South Korea, India will argue that the ITU has a role to play in Internet governance: first, because the Internet cannot be separated from telecommunications; and, second, because countries have legitimate security and access issues that are best addressed through multilateral institutions.However, this position does not mean that India opposes a bottom-up, “multistakeholder” approach to governance that includes organizations representing technical experts, governments, businesses, civil society, and individual users. Rather, Delhi hopes to strengthen the multistakeholder model by unbundling it and distributing various roles to different organizations, including the ITU. see:Internet Governance and the ITU: Maintaining the Multistakeholder Approach: The German Perspective
The ITU is often considered an obscure technical organization, dealing with radio spectrum, satellite orbits, and telecommunications, that is not worthy of sustained political attention. But in the past few years the ITU has become a battleground for member states promoting their visions of how the Internet should be managed in the future. The 2014 Plenipotentiary of the ITU, being held now in Busan, South Korea, will be another skirmish in that battle.Germany will go to Busan opposed to the expansion of the ITU mandate to include the Internet, but searching for ways to increase the ITU’s technical capabilities to broaden access to information and communication technology. While Berlin has taken the lead on the topic of online privacy and has questioned the legitimacy of mass surveillance for national security reasons, it is unlikely to raise these issues at the ITU. Internet Is Not the Enemy: Global efforts to stop the Islamic State should not come at the expense of online freedom. Let the world see the depravity of their ideology.
As the Islamic State (IS) has conquered more and more territory across Iraq and Syria, the jihadists have added another tool to their arsenal of terror: the Internet. IS propaganda officers have used YouTube, Twitter, and chat platforms to boast of their accomplishments, promote terror by posting videos depicting the beheading of journalists, and recruit young people to their cause. A recent estimate suggests that at least 2,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria to fight alongside IS and other groups — many of them recruited online.Something must be done to curb IS’s recruitment. But at the same time, anti-terror laws cannot be used, yet again, to restrict free expression. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening.

The Internet is currently governed through a multi-stakeholder model that pushes for consensus in all matters of governance, from intellectual property to network restrictions. This model is implemented in several ways, most notably through the annual U.N.-sponsored Internet Governance Forum, which brings together civil society, governments, academics, and the private sector to discuss matters of regulation. In recent years, this model has been challenged by governments, including China and Russia, which see the role of government as greater than that of corporations or civil society. The inclusive multi-stakeholder model has also been challenged by closed-door trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would export some of the United States’ worst copyright law without offering any of its protections — such as fair use — and potentially criminalize the use of technologies used to circumvent online censorship. United States and the ITU: Holding the Multistakeholder Line
The Plenipotentiary of the United Nation’s ITU began this week, and it is likely to be what the Washington Post calls, “the latest battle over who should run the Internet.”Over the next two weeks, the Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program will be publishing a look at some of the strategies and objectives of the of some key player at the ITU. First up is the United States. China’s New Internet Conference Compete with the West in Defining Norms of Cyberspace?
Not wanting to be left out, after the United Kingdom, Hungary, and South Korea all held conferences on cyberspace governance, China has announced that it will be hosting the World Internet Conference from November 19 to 21. The conference, planned by the Cyberspace Administration of China (formerly named the State Internet Information Office), has the stated mission to promote the “development of [the] Internet to be the global shared resources for human solidarity and economic progress.” Web realities need smart governance
Fan Zhouzi, a science writer known for his debunking efforts, disappeared from China’s social media Tuesday night. One day later, Sina Editor-in-Chief Chen Tong announced his resignation. The two incidents are unconnected. However, their closeness has led people to speculate that there must be an association. Policy Support for Multistakeholder Governance Faces Test at ITU Plenipotentiary
The U.S. delegation of government officials and private-sector stakeholders traveling to this week’s ITU Plenipotentiary Conference will attempt to fashion a new global consensus for a free and open Internet while turning back calls for greater government control over Internet-related activities, the top U.S. delegate said Oct. 20. Will Control Your Internet?
In late September and early October of this year, huge demonstrations broke out in Hong Kong. The protesters were outraged by the decision of Communist Party leaders on the mainland to stack the deck for elections to Hong Kong’s chief executive post with pro-Beijing lackeys. Day after day, as the “umbrella revolution” in Hong Kong swelled from thousands to hundreds of thousands, China’s infamous “Great Firewall” effectively prevented most Chinese from even learning about the Hong Kong protests. China’s army of Internet censors, ably assisted by software and hardware from Western companies, worked furiously to block and scrub stories, images, and comments about the demonstrations from news sites, blogs, social media, and search engines. the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the internet
On February 8, 2000, the US government signed a contract with ICANN to run the so-called “IANA functions” – which glue together the internet as we know it.

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