A month ago, the World Conference on International Telecommunications took place in Dubai, its purpose being that of updating some old regulations regarding the Internet.
Prior to this conference, internet activists predicted trouble, and they were not the only ones. The US Congress issued a resolution, saying that it’s “essential” for the Internet to stay “stable, secure and free from governmental control.”
To no surprise whatsoever, a controversial telecommunications treaty was forwarded at the conference. As a result, the United States delegate refused to sign, along with 54 other countries, including Canada, Peru, Japan, and a big part of Western Europe.
According to the OpenNet Initiative, approximately a third of the worldwide internet users are living in countries that practice online censorship, including Russia, Cambodia, Iran, China, Cuba, Egypt, and Angola – all agreeing and signing the contentious treaty.
As for those who fight against these blatant measures, no good words came out when speaking of the International Telecommunication Union, the affiliate organization of the United States handling the conference. In their opinion, I.T.U.’s only concern is to gain back the power it once had by any means possible (even if it means giving more power to governments over public speech).
This issue was not overlooked by the conference; as such, attendees asked the US to cut its financial support for the I.T.U. in a noticeable manner.
“Paying for both sides of a conflict is unsustainable and illogical, and should simply be corrected,” defundtheitu.org, said.
The site also filed a petition on White House’s official page; here’s an excerpt from it:
“Many of our free-market democratic allies, led by Germany, France, Spain and Finland, have already de-funded the I.T.U. Likewise, right-thinking American companies like I.B.M., Cingular, Microsoft, Fox, Agilent, Sprint, Harris, Loral and Xerox, and others, have already withdrawn their private-sector contributions from the I.T.U.”
Bill Woodcock, research director of Packet Clearing House and creator of the aforementioned petition, said:
“This is really about whether people should be allowed to say what they think.”
“The Internet enables free speech, and that makes it very dangerous to countries that try to control public discourse.”
In that sense, 25.000 signatures are needed for the White House to intervene.
But, until then, the US government is still contributing with approximately 8% of the I.T.U.’s budget, along with other 55 countries (accounting for three-quarters of I.T.U.’s budget) that voted against the treaty.