This week member countries of the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU) got together in Dubai to discuss revising the world's telecommunications regulations, much to the chagrin of Internet advocacy groups and companies that do business on the Internet. Advocacy groups are concerned that the group will propose new rules on the Internet that will limit privacy, anonymity, institute new fees for Internet-based business, and even charge tariffs or taxes.
Reuters is also reporting that U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer tried to fast-track ratification of U.S. and Canadian proposals. American negotiators proposed that the discussions be limited to telecommunications, and exclude important online service providers such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
The discussions going on in Dubai relate to what role the International Telecommunications Union should play in future Internet governance.
There are two main proposals - that we know of - that have many internet rights groups deeply concerned. One proposal would standardize deep packet inspection for government surveillance purposes. Critics argue that the proposed ITU standard lacks safeguards for user privacy. Critics are also concerned that authoritarian regimes around the world could push to make the DPI capabilities mandatory for telecommunications equipment. Another proposal would eliminate the ability to be anonymous on the Internet. There are certainly other issues being kicked around but many are unknown because those involved in drafting the proposals and debating them have done so mostly in secret..
Prior to the conference, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré told Reuters that any major changes to the 1988 telecommunications treaty would be adopted only with "consensus" approaching unanimity. Of course for the United States to sign the treaty it would have to be sent to the U.S. Senate for approval - assuming the president doesn't try to use an executive style order to accomplish ratification...
The conference began on Monday and is scheduled to conclude on December 14.
Source: Ars Technica