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US plans to oppose bid which aims to give UN control of internet

Written by: Sapa
Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012

The United States will oppose a bid to revise a global treaty to bring the Internet under UN control or to impose new taxes on Web traffic, the head of a US delegation said yesterday.

The US will submit its formal proposal Friday for the December conference held by the International Telecommunications Union, a UN agency which set global telecom rules, said Terry Kramer, the special envoy named for the talks.

Kramer reiterated Washington’s position opposing proposals by Russia, China and others to expand the authority of the ITU to regulate the Internet.

“The Internet has grown precisely because it has not been micro-managed or owned by any government or multinational organization,” Kramer told a forum sponsored by the Information Technology Industry Council.

“There is no Internet central office. Its openness and decentralization are its strengths.”

US officials, lawmakers and technology leaders have expressed concern that the December conference to be held in Dubai could seek changes threatening the openness of the Internet and its so-called “multi-stakeholder” model.

Some in the US say the effort could give governments greater authority to filter or censor information.

Other proposals which may come up would call for taxes on Internet traffic, which critics say could hit US firms such as Google but also potentially curb the growth in Internet use.

The conference set for December 3-4 is aimed at updating a 1998 global telecom treaty. But some countries are using the event to press for a broadening of the scope of the UN agency.

Kramer said ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Toure has indicated he would be seeking a “consensus” approach rather than bringing each proposal up for a vote.

Because of this, Kramer said he’d would like to take off the table proposals which could be divisive or lead to a public split.

He said that “Europe has been a great partner and I hope they’ll continue to show a common platform with us.”

But he noted that the US delegation will hold talks ahead of the December conference to express its views in various places including in China, Russia, France and African nations.