Kicking off 12-day long deliberations in Dubai, about 193 countries are gathered to renegotiate ITU treaty at The World Conference of International Communications (WCIT-12). Although drafted in 1988, the treaty is now being revised to catch up with the rapid transformations brought on by current telecom usage reinforced by international telecommunications regulations. However, UN organizers are expecting resistance while bringing the countries to agree on common standards in the event.
As the critical global talks to hammer out the future of the internet continue, over 900 alterations to the International Telecommunications Regulations have been proposed, which also include policies dealing with the reduction of mobile roaming charges, blocking spam and emergency call protocols. Besides allowing increased internet access, this meeting could also result in restrictive internet regulations. Other possibilities include government control over the internet content and a fee for popular websites for sending data along telecom operators’ networks.
It has been explicitly expressed by Russia and China to take the control of the internet away from the US. While African states want operating agencies to have the right to charge providers of international communication applications and services suitable access charges. A greater control by governments in regulating the internet and transfer of data is being proposed by the Arab. Some governments want ITU to have right to control access to content while managing certain functions as well, whereas European Union’s Telecom companies are trying to get Google to pay for the bandwidth that YouTube and its other websites are using since 2010.
United States has been trying to the bitter end to stop United Nations’ body from extending its power into cyberspace. In an open internet petition against it, US search giant Google has been reverberating its Government’s concerns and has gathered support of 3 million people for a free and open internet. According to Ambassador Terry Kramer, proposals to bring Internet companies under the U.N.’s ITU, could be disastrous for U.S. companies and would put the internet at risk of censorship and control. Inter-governmental regulation of the internet could deter investment, raise costs for consumers and hinder online access.
In just two years, the number of online shoppers has increased by 40% globally. The World Wide Web is no longer confined to some particular users, rather it has become an essential part of peoples’ life, and especially when it comes to make a purchase. Therefore, these negotiations can prove to be a turning point for businesses structures as well.
“My job is to set the infrastructure right when the traffic comes”, said the Secretary-General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun Toure. “We have plenty on our plate – managing global spectrum, managing satellite locations, work we do in standardizations and work we do in development – to handle. There is no need to take over other’s job”. Toure made it clear that the Dubai conference would be entirely about broadband, how to provide it to the billions who don’t get it and how to handle rising bandwidth demands. The aim of the conference would be to plan a globally consented strategy that offers future connectivity as well as adequate communications capacity to deal with the enormous growth in voice, video and data.
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