Dear ITU: A Complex Process Where Delegates Who Fly To Dubai Can 'Lobby' Is Not 'Transparency'

from the words-mean-things dept

The EU Parliament recently joined the US government in speaking out against the ITU's upcoming WCIT event, which we've been discussing. This is where the ITU -- an ancient organization designed to deal with telegraphs, and whose relevance today has been widely questioned -- is seeking to take over certain aspects of internet governance, well outside its mandate. Certain countries -- Russia and China in particular -- and certain large telcos (including many EU ones) are looking at this as a way to advance very specific interests, either for increased control and censorship over the internet, or in forcing successful internet companies to fork over money to telcos who have failed to innovate. Thankfully, the EU Parliament has now spoken up about its concerns, noting a number of key points (these are just the first half, but they give you an idea):
1. Calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that any changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations are compatible with the EU acquis and further the Union’s objective of, and interest in, advancing the internet as a truly public place, where human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression and assembly, are respected and the observance of free market principles, net neutrality and entrepreneurship are ensured;

2. Regrets the lack of transparency and inclusiveness surrounding the negotiations for WCIT-12, given that the outcomes of this meeting could substantially affect the public interest;

3. Believes that the ITU, or any other single, centralised international institution, is not the appropriate body to assert regulatory authority over either internet governance or internet traffic flows;

4. Stresses that some of the ITR reform proposals would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations and governance, as well as the free flow of information online;

5. Believes that, as a consequence of some of the proposals presented, the ITU itself could become the ruling power over aspects of the internet, which could end the present bottom-up, multi-stakeholder model; expresses concern that, if adopted, these proposals may seriously affect the development of, and access to, online services for end users, as well as the digital economy as a whole; believes that internet governance and related regulatory issues should continue to be defined at a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder level;

6. Is concerned that the ITU reform proposals include the establishment of new profit mechanisms that could seriously threaten the open and competitive nature of the internet, driving up prices, hampering innovation and limiting access; recalls that the internet should remain free and open;
The ITU has taken to its blog to hit back, claiming that it is deeply disappointed in the resolution. No surprise there. It tries to hit back on some of the points, but fails wildly. Take, for example, its response to the transparency issue:
However, it is important to point out that WCIT is inclusive of 193 national delegations which are participating in WCIT-12. Private sector companies and civil society organizations have also registered to attend WCIT-12 in large numbers.

Everyone attending WCIT-12 is free to lobby for their specific positions.

Added to this, in the run-up to the conference, the ITU Secretariat created a platform to allow any individual, civil society player or company to make its views known.

The very thorough and inclusive preparatory process leading up to the WCIT-12 has been completely transparent. Every European parliamentarian could have obtained all the documents from their own government, or from the European Commission.

At ITU, transparency is achieved at the national level, through national consultations in national languages. Surely this process is far more inclusive than just posting an English language text on a web page?
Note the key false equivalency here: that transparency means that you can have your voice heard (if, that is, you're willing to sign up to fly to Dubai and take part as a delegate). First of all, being heard is not transparency. Transparency is about sharing information in the other direction. It's about making the discussions and details public so everyone knows what's going on. Hearing what people are saying is listening and it's important -- but it's not transparency.

Second, the fact that parliamentarians could obtain the documents is not transparency either. It does not involve the public.

It's this kind of misleading rhetoric that makes people so concerned about the ITU. The fact that it pretends transparency is something other than it is seems like a real problem.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mark, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    Note the key false equivalency here: that transparency means that you can have your voice heard (if, that is, you're willing to sign up to fly to Dubai and take part as a delegate). First of all, being heard is not transparency. Transparency is about sharing information in the other direction. It's about making the discussions and details public so everyone knows what's going on. Hearing what people are saying is listening and it's important -- but it's not transparency.

    I hope the US is not complaining about the lack of transparency. This is more transparent than the USTR is with TPP. At least they will listen, the USTR doesn't even want to do that, while claiming its being transparent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Transparency? We don't need no stinking transparency.

    It would seem the ITU is merely following in the footsteps of our own T.P.P. negotiators.

    None of them understand the meaning of transparency... no, wait... they do understand, they just don't care.

     

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  3.  
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    The Real Michael, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Uuh, yeah. Gathering together a bunch of censor-happy, human rights violating nations to decide how best to take control of the internet away from the people is not my idea of "fair and balanced." Oh, and don't bring countries such as China or Russia into the equation and then attempt to preach about *transparency* because that's a non-strater if ever there was one.

     

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  4.  
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    The Real Michael, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Re: *correction*

    non-starter

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    Why do you think that an unelected unaccountable giant corporation that operates with near complete secrecy can be trusted in similar circumstances? Big is Bad wherever occurs, needs to be watched from all quarters, certainly not left "free" to spy on everyone, has no right to do so, and well-regulated. -- Besides that, you've no actual assurance that Google isn't in cahoots with these manifest globalists.





    Take the link to hear Melancholy Mike cover a Springsteen tune reminiscing his one big quip and nothing since:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
    Glory days well they'll pass you by
    Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
    Glory days, glory days
    "Glory Days" (Bruce Springsteen)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    Know your memes, ootb...

    "You know it's just a matter of time before Google takes over the world, but that's okay, they'll do a better job than our governments do."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    "Big is Bad"

    Isn't the whole BIG thing boB's schtick?

    You did ask Bruce if you could have permission to copy and republish his lyrics? Right boB... I mean OOTB.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    You know what they say: you gotta spend money to steal money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Re:

    That just means that both of them are wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    Politics

    Despite all the rhetoric, this is politicians complaining that another organization is trying to exercise the powers they believe they should have. They were much less concerned about the same points when trying to pass ACTA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    DannyB (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    > Why do you think that an unelected unaccountable giant corporation
    > that operates with near complete secrecy can be trusted in
    > similar circumstances? Big is Bad wherever occurs, needs to be
    > watched from all quarters, certainly not left "free" to spy on
    > everyone, has no right to do so, and well-regulated.

    Very well said! I agree completely! That's why we need more regulation of giant copyright maximalists.



    > Besides that, you've no actual assurance that Google isn't
    > in cahoots with these manifest globalists.

    Wow. Now that's pretty crazy -- even for you.

    So the ITU is working against Google's best interest, but Google is secretly in cahoots with them -- while asking everyone on the Internet to help Google.

    Maybe the RIAA is secretly in cahoots with the aliens? After all, as you say, you have no actual assurance otherwise. So it must be true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    Why do you think that an unelected unaccountable giant corporation that operates with near complete secrecy can be trusted in similar circumstances? Big is Bad wherever occurs, needs to be watched from all quarters, certainly not left "free" to spy on everyone, has no right to do so, and well-regulated. -- Besides that, you've no actual assurance that Google isn't in cahoots with these manifest globalists.





    Take the link to hear Melancholy Mike cover a Springsteen tune reminiscing his one big quip and nothing since:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
    Glory days well they'll pass you by
    Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
    Glory days, glory days
    "Glory Days" (Bruce Springsteen)


    It's different because ITU doesn't seem to have paid shills

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 28th, 2012 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    How do we know they will listen? All we know is people are allowed to speak. Big difference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    You'd think a group looking to regulate and/or govern the internet would be able to make use of it for purposes such as transparency.

    Clearly understanding that which you seek to control is just too much to ask for these days...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

    " the ITU Secretariat created a platform to allow any individual, civil society player or company to make its views known.

    The very thorough and inclusive preparatory process ..."



    And yet they chose to host their little get together in a nation well known for its lack of equal rights ... wtf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    Unelected, unaccountable, giant corporation, operates with near complete secrecy... say, sounds EXACTLY like the RIAA, MPAA and their international clones. But why won't you ever criticise them, out_of_the_asscrack?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 28th, 2012 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Huh. Ya know, if you replace "ITU" with "Google", same concerns apply.

    Big corporations are bad, huh? Well, let's start with the media corporations,then, shall we? Seems they've been around longer and have more skeletons in their closets. Shall we dig in and see what comes up?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 3:56am

    Re:

    Hasn't "fair and balanced" already lost its integrity with FOX news using it?

    I think ITU should keep out of the internet entirely aa their own positions when lobbying in EU parliament are not the golden standards which is a bit ironic given that they lobby in standardisation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re:

    My core objection to all of this is that the internet doesn't need to be fixed because it's not broken. Having a group of delegates, each representing sovereign interests, attempting to impose regulations on the open internet would inevitably result in heavy censorship and ever-increasing public monitoring.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Wishes to Remain anonymous, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 5:49pm

    Any organization that would allow governments to convene and decide the future of the Internet, something that is not technically owned by any country, is drastically limiting the rights of individuals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    linda lala Linda, Dec 3rd, 2012 @ 11:43pm

    Re: Transparency? We don't need no stinking transparency.

    .... All year the ITU MEETS ALL OVER THE GLOBE, And many countries have their say and try to make their point.... Some countries are staunched than others, if this last month of deliberation was in USA. WOULD IT NOT BE THE OTHER WAY ARROUND. Do yous even know what the heck your talking about? I say NO! I know. I know what your bellyaching about has nothing to do with DUBI AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH WHO WINS. Period. If you want the transparency. ... OPEN YOUR FREAKING EYES...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    sandi, Jun 5th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    transparency

    You'd think a group looking to regulate and/or govern the internet would be able to make use of it for purposes such as transparency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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