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US sides with UK, walks away from sticky WCIT treaty

No consensus, no signature

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America has stated that it won't be signing the new ITU treaty after the text was pushed though on a forced vote, with the UK being the first of many to agree that the final text is not acceptable.

The conference Chair took a gamble, closing discussion earlier in the day and presenting a modified version of the ITU treaty, which hasn't been updated since 1988, the hope of getting a last-minute consensus by removing all the controversial bits. For a while it seemed to be going well, but when the countries got locked into a debate on Human Rights the delegate from Iran, clutching a huge rule book, demanded an open vote. That vote approved a slightly modified version of the treaty and the Chair just had time to smile in applause before the US announced it would not be signing, followed by a dozen allies equally concerned that the ITU would end up controlling the internet.

The i-word had been entirely expunged from the final version of the treaty which was supposed to update the ITU regulations to allow for innovation such as mobile telephony and third-party routing, but the internet was mentioned in a one-page resolution encouraging its adoption and the treaty itself refers to 'unsolicited bulk communications',  which was enough for the USA and it's mates to smell a take-over bid and withdraw all support.

Now we have a treaty without signatures, containing important details on international roaming and billing intended to support telecommunications in developing countries who are vulnerable without it. Quite what happens now we don't know, no one knows, it's never happened before.

The ITU isn't giving up on the million-pound fortnight in Dubai just yet, at the time of writing in Dubai midnight is still an hour away and the team are heading into meetings to see if some sort of face saving agreement can be put onto a table in the morning, for the cameras, but the WCIT treaty as envisioned, and panicked about, is all but dead. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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