Report: U.S. Opposes Major Changes in Global Telecom Treaty

A conference scheduled for this December was called by the UN to update global telecommunications regulations more than 20 years old, and the US has said the country is ready to cooperate, but doesn't want big changes.

by / October 8, 2012
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The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) is scheduled to take place in Dubai this December and will update global treaties that govern how the Internet and other communications technologies are governed. The conference was called by members of the International Telecomunication Union (ITU), a United Nations special agency. They want modernized regulations, as existing regulations were last updated in 1988. Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. special envoy for the conference, said he will oppose any major changes to existing regulation and try to keep the Internet free and open, reported.

"We need to avoid suffocating ... the Internet space through well-meaning but overly-proscriptive proposals that would seek to control content or seek to mandate routing and payment practices," Kramer said.

Though open to cooperating with other nations to make small changes, Kramer said he would oppose any large changes to how the Internet is regulated. Perhaps for this reason, issues of cybersecurity should be left off the table, he said.

"There are a lot of cyber threats but the nature of cyber issues requires agility, it requires a technical expertise, and it requires a distributed effort, so we are very sensitive about any one organization taking on the sole role of solving cyber threats," Kramer said. However, the conference is "not an appropriate or useful venue to address cyber security.”

In short, Kramer said he aims to keep things as they are and will oppose those making too many changes. Putting controls on the Internet, he said, is a “worrisome philosophical trend.”