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US, Canada, UK refuse to sign ITU treaty over control issues

updated 07:48 am EST, Fri December 14, 2012

Internet governance pressure point forced withdrawl from talks

Representatives of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are refusing to sign a treaty relating to Internet governance. The three countries all objected to the International Telecommunications Union treaty, refusing to sign anything that would allow "all states to have equal rights to the governance of the Internet."

Many attendees from various countries found it to be unfair that the US government were in control of the Internet's address system, and wanted equal rights for all nations on the development of the network's technical aspects, according to the BBC. The US contingent said that its control allowed experts to perform "agile, rapid-fire decisions" in the system's development, and that the request for equal rights opened the door to legitimizing censorship online. This view was echoed by Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf, warning that changes could be "a disruptive threat to the stability of the system."

Though the proposal for equal control from Russia, China and others was refused, a group of countries based in Africa wanted to add a human rights-related paragraph stating "These regulations recognize the right of access of member states to international telecommunication services." Again, this was attacked by the US and others as another attempt for Internet governance. A 77-33 vote the next day saw the African proposal accepted, despite the ITU pledging to only accept changes on a consensus basis and not by a majority-rules vote.

"It's with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the US must communicate that it's not able to sign the agreement in the current form," said US ambassador to the WCIT Terry Kramer. The US House of Representatives previously opposed government control of the Internet in a unanimous passing of a Senate resolution last week, mirroring sentiments by both Google and the European Parliament.



By Electronista Staff
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