US will fight ITU members for internet domination
Really, Russia, it's just better if we handle it
The US has made it clear that it won't be letting control of the internet slip out of ICANN's hands anytime soon.
The US Department of State released the country's proposals for the World Conference on International Telecommunications on its website, where the threat of attempts by Russia and others to wrest the web from the US body was obliquely answered. Slipped in among its recommendations was that the "voluntary nature of compliance with ITU-T Recommendations [be maintained]."
Russia and China, along with other member nations of the UN body International Telecommunications Union (ITU), are calling for changes in the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) that would bring the internet under the international body's control. The ITRs as they are currently drafted do not address technical standards, infrastructure, or content. However, the expansion of the ITRs that China and others are advocating for do include internet regulation.
"The United States believes that the existing multi-stakeholder institutions, incorporating industry and civil society, have functioned effectively and will continue to ensure the health and growth of the Internet and all of its benefits," Ambassador Terry Kramer, who's leading the delegation to the event, said.
The conference, convened by the ITU, will be looking into the International Telecommunications Regulations, which is basically a treaty on telecoms. The ITU has said that the conference will review the rules and even think about changing them and has invited countries to make proposals.
Although the proposals don't have to be made public if the country doesn't want them to be, the US published a fact sheet on its ideas.
The state department said that the US would "carefully monitor" proposals from other countries.
"The US is concerned that proposals by some other governments could lead to greater regulatory burdens being placed on the international telecom sector or perhaps even extended to the internet sector - a result the US would oppose," the department said.
Russia didn't make its proposals (PDF) for the conference public, but they were submitted anonymously to website Wcitleaks.org, which bills itself as "Bringing transparency to the ITU".
Russia suggested that some of the responsibility for handing out internet addresses should go to the ITU instead of all being under the control of US-based organisation Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Since then, Russian president Vladimir Putin has suggested that perhaps the regulations should go even further and put some sort of "international control over the internet using the monitoring and supervisory capabilities of the ITU". There have also been reports that China would back Russia's attempts to take some of the control from the US.
The ITU is not a regulatory body however, it just helps coordinate the use of networks and promote international cooperation and it's already tried to quash rumours that it could become a regulator.
"There has been some mention that somehow the ITU would give itself overall worldwide regulatory authority," ITU facilitator Richard Hill said in June. "There are no proposals along those lines. The proposals are that the individual countries should take action in these particular areas." ®
Re: Sooner this is done
You have clearly never had the good fortune to deal with the ITU if you think they would be any less bad at this than the US.
The ITU is populated by telecom companies working to prevent any risk of competition or consumer choice with a light sprinkling of government representatives working to make sure no progress at all is made. The organisation is entirely political and about as much value for normal people as a G8 summit.
Re: Sooner this is done
I have quite a few reasons to think the ITU could do a better job of what's needed here (which isn't much) than the US. UK interest alligns with all non US interest here, to the extent ICANN governance is broken and needs fixing. Consider what this job really involves. It involves publishing the root DNS zone file which is a small file which doesn't change very often. What's likely to be the most contentious part of it involves deciding which ISP gets to look after a little-used TLD on behalf of islands in the Pacific built out of bird poo when they have a revolution.
ICANN are currently actively proposing to pollute the TLD namespace with crap brands for sale like .pepsi and .mcdonalds and pimping contended for-profit registries like .whores and .bank to the highest bidders. Well they would build their empire that way, given the US government isn't going to stop them.
Could you ever imagine the ITU polluting international telephone dialling codes in the same way ?
The rest of what ICANN does is delegating numeric address space to the continental RIRs. IPV4 space is all gone so that job's been done. IPV6 space isn't likely ever to be in short supply within the next couple of centuries or so, and it shouldn't take a genius to allocate it in a way which prevents router tables from getting too fragmented.
As it stands, the ITU is morally and diplomatically competent while ICANN are technically competent but morally and diplomatically incompetent. So it's time for ICANN to come under ITU governance.
Really? For the better?
Stop for a moment and look who's proposing these changes. Russia and China.
What are their records like on free speech and free reporting again?
Super Putin and his Chineese friends want to be able to pull any criticism of them off the Internet. That's what this is about.
It's truly a case here of better the (hands off) devil you know (than the other hands on devil you also know)