Thursday, November 22, 2012

Internet Freedom Remains U.S. Priority at U.N. Conference

IDG News Service (11/18/12) Grant Gross

The U.S. delegation to the U.N. International Telecommunication Union's (ITU's) upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will advocate for free speech online and oppose any broad new Internet regulations, says delegation head Terry Kramer.  The delegation is worried that some nations will lobby for telecom-style termination fees for Web traffic in order to raise funds for broadband implementation, while some countries might call for Internet censorship for cybersecurity reasons.  Kramer says the United States will oppose any attempt to impose online regulation.  Meanwhile, ITU's Gary Fowlie says the WCIT's regulations should be extended to support a "global information society."  Fowlie also says WCIT should investigate ways to ensure universal Internet affordability and accessibility.  However, he notes that Internet censorship efforts would run afoul of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds freedom of expression "through any media and regardless of frontiers."  Syracuse University professor Milton Mueller advocates ITU jettisoning international telecom regulations, with such rules best left to private companies and civil society.

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