ITU: Draft of the Future International Telecommunications Regulations
19 Oct 2012
In December 2012, the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT 2012) will be taking place in Dubai with a view to reconsider the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988 under the aegis of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
One of the key questions that will be examined at WCIT is whether or not ‘ICTs’ or the Internet should fall within the scope of the ITRs.
As the ITU has traditionally operated under a very closed-up, top-down decision-making process, civil society groups are concerned that the ITR review process might be used to fundamentally change the multi-stakeholder model that has been the hallmark of Internet governance up until now. There is also a concern that this process will have a detrimental impact on the open Internet, freedom of expression and access to information.
Our legal analysis concludes that whilst the ITU might not be overtaking the Internet just yet, some of the proposals that have been made give no ground for complacency on the part of civil society, governments and businesses who want to preserve our Internet freedoms.
In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 reviews key areas of concerns over the ITRs. We examine the question of definitions and scope of the ITRs as well as proposals that would give greater control to the ITU over content-related aspects of Internet policy. We also review the proposal of the European Telecoms Network Operators (ETNO) on new IP interconnection pricing scheme and its impact on net neutrality. Finally, we highlight a number of factors mitigating fears that the ITU might be overtaking the Internet.
- Every effort should be made to oppose the inclusion of the terms ‘ICTs’, ‘Internet’ or ‘IP Protocol’ in the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs”);
- References to 'spam', 'cyber-crime', 'cyber-security', 'data preservation, retention, protection', 'protection of personal information, privacy and data', 'information and network security', 'fraud' and other similar wording should be rejected;
- The proposal of European Telecoms Network Operators should be resisted as seriously undermining the net neutrality principle;
- As a matter of international law, States should make a reservation to those clauses that fail to comply with international standards on freedom of expression and the right to privacy on the Internet;
- Should the revised ITRs fall well below the international standards on freedom of expression and privacy, States should not sign the revised ITRs;
- The ITU should open-up its decision-making processes and make its reports and other documentation available free-of-charge.