ICT ministers mark out net-regulation patch ahead of ITU plenipot
Busan Declaration looks like a statement of intent
The ITU has kicked off three weeks of wrangling over the future of the Internet – the 2014 Plenipotentiary – with a ministerial statement that's likely to spark concerns about the direction of the coming summit.
The Busan Declaration, issued at the close of the Busan ICT ministerial meeting, is filled with high-minded language about inclusion and the spread of the Internet, but there are angles that will worry those who believe the ITU is preparing a takeover of the Internet.
The declaration isn't ITU policy, but it could be seen as indicating how countries present at the ministerial conference might hope things will proceed over the next few weeks in Korea.
The declaration, here, says telecommunications and ICT should be “viewed comprehensively, beyond the aspects of infrastructure and technology, to encompass economic development, enhancement of the quality of people's lives and social integration”.
On their own, such phrases are sound like harmless bromides, but in the context of the coming plenipotentiary, it's likely to be seen as an attempt to extend the remit of the body beyond its history of technical standardisation, spectrum management, and the like.
In that context “moving beyond” infrastructure is exactly what supporters of the 'net's existing multi-stakeholder governance fear.
Item 14 of the declaration will similarly be eyed warily. The 50 countries say that development of telecommunications and ICTs should including minimising “the negative impact” of things like cybersecurity threats, potential harms to the vulnerable (specifically nominating children), and “negative effects on the environment”.
While an ITU call for a focus on security seems unobjectionable at first viewing, it's a topic which again plays into concerns that national governments might, via the ITU, seek to expand its remit using security as a justification for a brief to push the treaty organisation “up the stack” towards content. ®