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European Parliament votes to fight ITU internet power grab

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The European Parliament has passed a resolution protesting plans by the International Telecommunications Union to seize regulatory control of the internet.

"[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," the resolution reads. It was passed by a large majority of EP officials.

Next month, during an 11-day World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in the sunshine of Dubai, the ITU will be meeting to discuss the next draft of the internet regulations that have remained unchanged since 1988.

What's worrying the EP, along with an unlikely coalition of Google, the US Republican party, organized labor, and Greenpeace, is that the meeting might try and take over regulatory oversight for internet communications in a closed-door coup. The US government has said it will oppose serious moves to change the current regulatory order, but how effective that will be remains to be seen.

"The resolution of the Parliament is a big success for internet users. This sends a clear and positive signal to the European Commission and the Member States", said Amelia Andersdotter, MEP for the Pirate Party and co-submitter of the resolution, in a statement.

Nation states, notably Russia and China, are pushing for more power over internet regulations, a responsibility handled by non-governmental bodies like ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Internet Society up until now. Many fear this will lead to countries seeking to bend internet regulations to their own ends or cripple them with transnational data charges.

While there have been problems in internet regulation with the current approach, not least the troubling rule of the now-departed ICANN boss Rod Beckstrom, in El Reg's opinion giving direct regulatory control to the ITU would be a huge mistake. New ICANN boss Fadi Chehadé will have a tough time fighting for his organization's rights at WCIT this year, but needs support such as that from the EP. ®

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