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Millions support a free and open web – Google

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Almost two thirds of the 144 involved countries signed a controversial UN treaty that would, in essence, promote more Internet censorship and government regulation.

December 15, 2012 8:18 by



The idea of tightening Internet and telecom regulation is a scary thought to many, particularly to those who stand to gain the most from a free and open web. From that perspective, one may describe the outcome of the ITU conference in Dubai that ended a couple of days ago as a ‘disaster’.

Almost two thirds of the 144 involved countries signed a controversial UN treaty that would, in essence, promote more censorship and government regulation – but is also believed to increase connectivity and reduce costs.

Among the 89 countries that supported the treaty was the UAE, but as The National reports, Hamadoun Toure, the secretary of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union says the revised treaty was less about the Internet and more about increasing transparency with telecoms and mobile charges around the world.

“The conference did not include provisions on the internet in the treaty text,” Mr Toure said.

Over one third of the countries opposing the treaty included the United Kingdom, Japan, United States, Australia and Canada. To strongly oppose the treaty was a decision that Google – an Internet giant that stands to gain or lose a lot from the outcome – fully supported. A company spokesperson spoke to Kippreport about the ITU conference, describing the 11-day period of talks in Dubai as ‘fractious’.

“What is clear from the ITU meeting in Dubai is that many governments want to increase regulation and censorship of the internet. We stand with the countries who refuse to sign this treaty and also with the millions of voices who have joined us to support a free and open web,” he said.

Google spokesperson refused to comment further.

US delegates say that it is not the role of governments to control the Internet but rather the role of the citizens. Many members requested for additional time to consult with their governments over the treaty – which will not take effect until 2015. If the conclusion of this conference is an indication of anything, it is the difference in perception of what the Internet should represent to both individuals and businesses.



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