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ITU 'panicking' as anti-Internet plans are leaked

Will the powers that be really attempt to pass an anti-Internet Treaty in the name of 'security'?

Read time 2min 10sec

"UN agency's leaked Playbook: panic, chaos over anti-Internet Treaty" - Now that's a headline guaranteed to catch your eye! As a member of the Internet Society and a concerned global citizen, I have been following the build-up to the World Conference on International Telecommunications, in Dubai, which takes place early in December. A key focus is on the proposals to change the International Telecommunications Regulations that have been in force since 1988.

There is growing concern around the world that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) - a United Nations agency - will be imposing new controls over the Internet, which has not fallen under its jurisdiction until now. The headline comes from a long article by Larry Downes, published by Forbes, which tells a story about how the ITU is "panicking" because its plans for the revision to the regulations have leaked.

Computer Society South Africa expressed its dissatisfaction with the ITU process in its "Hands off the Internet!" release on 12 November. There are suggestions that the ITU is fighting to be relevant in a deregulated environment, and that its decisions will be motivated by countries that wish to censor or even shut down the Internet in the name of "security".

South Africans fought long and hard to live in a free and open society, with the rights to be informed and to express themselves entrenched in the Constitution. We can already see how a "democratic" government can be diverted from its core principles into using power it should not have or need (the so-called Secrecy Bill). It will be a travesty if the United Nations should be the cover for governments to grab control of the Internet under the guise of "revisions" of the existing regulations.

There is an article posted by Wired.co.uk that suggests that the global community of Internet users should not be too worried. However, the challenge with accepting their reassurance is that it leaves the field open for the "revisions" to be accepted without protest, after which we might discover that the ITU has more "teeth" than they would have us believe.

If Vint Cerf (widely regarded as the "father" of the Internet) is worried, we should all be worried.

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