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European Parliament passes a resolution condemning any internet takeover by the ITU

23 November 2012

It is widely believed that next month’s ITU conference in Dubai (WCIT-12) will include an attempt by the International Telecommunication Union – an agency of the United Nations – to assume effective control of the internet.

“In its upcoming meeting, the ITU is expected to try to decide for itself to have the regulatory power over the Internet,” explained Rick Falkvinge in his Infopolicy blog. While many see national governments behind the move, Falkvinge sees it as a financially motivated ‘powergrab’ by the telecommunications companies. “If they can assert themselves as masters of the internet, they get the desired ability to kill the potential of the net to replace them and their current cashcows. In other word, this is a textbook attempt at a regulatory capture by the ITU.”

However, whatever the motives, the European Parliament has now joined the individuals and organizations opposed to such a move by the ITU. This week the elected parliament of the world’s largest economy passed a resolution condemning the ITU proposals. The European Parliament “believes that the ITU, or any other single, centralised international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over either internet governance or internet traffic flows,” it declares. It believes that a consequence of some of the ITU’s proposals “could end the present bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model,” and that “these proposals may seriously affect the development of, and access to, online services for end users, as well as the digital economy as a whole.”

The resolution is uncompromising in its opposition to an ITU takeover. It “calls on the Member States [of the European Union] to prevent any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations which would be harmful to the openness of the internet, net neutrality, the end-to-end principle, universal service obligations, and the participatory governance entrusted to multiple actors such as governments, supranational institutions, non-governmental organisations, large and small businesses, the technological community and internet users and consumers at large.”

Amelia Andersdotter, a Swedish member of the European Parliament for the Pirate Party, was one of the leading figures behind the resolution. “Today”, she announced in a statement yesterday, “the European Parliament adopted a resolution against an attempt by the EU's largest telecom company to move important decisions about business models on the internet to the UN,” adding that she “now expects the Commission to act on the extensive traffic restrictions faced by European internet users daily.”

This article is featured in:
Compliance and Policy  •  Internet and Network Security  •  Public Sector

 

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