Govt urged to resist changes to internet governance

InternetNZ favours keeping multi-stakeholder approach

InternetNZ will be approaching the government to secure its vote against a shift in internet governance that the International Telecommunications Union is set to promote at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai this December.

The approach may take the form of an open letter, as more than one minister is involved.

InternetNZ "favours the existing multi-stakeholder [governance] model" on which the internet's success was built, Kumar says. If innovation on the internet is to continue at its present pace "the ITU is not the vehicle to deliver it."

InternetNZ is working on a position paper outlining the arguments for keeping the multi-stakeholder model. It will be pressuring the government to act beyond the arena of the WCIT conference, Kumar says; "we would like to see them take initiatives at a diplomatic level."

The ITU, a United Nations body, has been trying for some years to shift internet governance in the direction of intergovernmental organisations and has signalled the Dubai conference as the platform for a renewed attack on the question. In practice, Kumar says, the ITU is acting as a vehicle for the interests of national governments, many of which favour increased control over internet content and uses.

The WCIT conference aims to review the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR) -- the global treaty outlining the principles which govern the way international voice, data and video traffic is handled, and which, in the words of a summary on the ITU's WCIT website "lay the foundation for ongoing innovation and market growth" . The regulations were last reviewed in 1988, before the internet achieved the wide use and multifarious repertoire of applications it enjoys today.

Decisions at the conference could impact peering and addressing arrangements and the pricing of international internet traffic, increasing the costs to the end-user. The international Internet Society also fears increased nationally-oriented censorship of internet content through technologies such as DNS filtering.

Concepts of privacy and security on the internet could also be in for a shake-up, says the Internet Society.

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