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ITU approaches Asia-Pac nations to support new ITRs

Still seeking allies for an unloved treaty

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The ITU has reportedly sent a senior official to Bangkok to try and win votes for the new International Telecommunications Regulations which were proposed, argued over and ultimately voted down in December.

According to CommsDay, the official is Malcolm Johnson, head of the ITU Telecommunications Standardization Bureau, pursuing a brief to persuade some of last year's dissenters that criticisms of the proposed ITRs were off-track.

December's confab in Dubai became acrimonious over whether or not proposed clauses in the ITRs amounted to a carte blanche for governments to regulate the Internet (something The Register seems to recall documenting even without ITRs, with links frequently cut in in the Syrian conflict, Iran blocking access to overseas-hosted VPN services ahead of its upcoming elections, a number of countries proposing or implementing data retention regimes, the “great firewall” in China which somehow manages to be porous to malicious traffic, ill-applied defamation laws and so on).

Johnson appears to have reiterated an ITU position that has been stated before, that the regulations don't represent an ITU takeover of Internet regulation, something that's still treated with scepticism by the 55 roughly US-aligned dissenting countries. The “pro-regulation” group that included Russia, China and a number of Arabic nations also sought to delegate to individual nations the right to manage network naming and numbering.

In an interesting development, CommsDay also reports speculation that no consensus emerges for a form of words, the ITU may try to incorporate the ITRs as administrative regulations under a revised ITU constitution, making acceptance of the regulations a pre-requisite to membership. If this were to happen, it would take place at the 2014 plenipotentiary in South Korea, leaving plenty of time for an acrimonious year of lobbying. ®

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