Monday, May 17, 2021

U.S., U.K., Others Refuse to Sign U.N. Telecom Treaty

The U.S., the U.K. and several other nations have refused to sign an update to the global telecommunications treaty because of its mention of Internet oversight. Delegates have been meeting throughout the week in Dubai to discuss the telecommunications treaty, but the sessions have been marked by controversy.

CNET’s Declan McCullagh reported, “In a stunning repudiation of a United Nations summit, an alliance of Western democracies including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada today rejected a proposed treaty over concerns it hands repressive governments too much authority over the Internet.”

BBC News added, “Negotiators from Denmark, Italy, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Finland, Chile, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Kenya have said they would need to consult with their national governments about how to proceed and would also not be able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.”

PCMag’s Chloe Albanesius explained, “Starting on Dec. 3, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an arm of the United Nations, hosted a conference in Dubai for 1,950 delegates from around the world. They worked to revise a treaty known as the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), which has been in effect since 1988 and offers guidelines related to international routing and charges between global carriers, as well as the overall Internet traffic between international network operators. Some countries at the table, however, submitted proposals that would also give the UN some power when it comes to Internet regulation, which the U.S. and other countries oppose. U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer has been speaking out against the Internet component of the treaty since before the conference started, but more than a week later, they were still included in the draft, prompting the U.S. to say it would not support it.”

The Wall Street Journal quoted U.S. delegate Terry Kramer, who stated, “No single organization or government should attempt to control the Internet or dictate its future development. We are resolute on this.” The Journal added, “Mr. Kramer said the stumbling blocks were disagreements over what stance the International Telecommunication Union, or ITU, should take on government regulation of Internet companies; whether the treaty allows for the regulation of content such as spam; and whether the organization should weigh in on cybersecurity, among other things.”

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