Doubling Down On Secrecy: ITU Believes Secret Media Strategy Key To Avoiding SOPA/ACTA Fate

from the good-luck-with-that dept

As the WCIT (World Conference on International Telecommunications) gets under way in Dubai, the ITU is making its play to regulate the internet, potentially to aid authoritarian governments in censoring or limiting the internet, or to divert money from innovative internet companies to stagnant state telcos out of a claim of “fairness.” There’s obviously been a lot of talk about it, and the ITU keeps claiming that it’s just a neutral body to facilitate discussions, even as increasing evidence suggests it’s urging many of the crazier proposals forward itself.

And now it’s come out that ITU officials recently held a “secret” meeting to figure out how they were going to avoid getting SOPA’d, having the world rise up in protest as it tries to implement its internet regulatory regime. Following some bizarre and paranoid fantasy about how the anti-ITU, anti-WCIT efforts are really just because an unnamed “lobbying group” didn’t like one proposal (the one mentioned above about diverting money from internet companies to telcos), the meeting got down to business: how could they use social media to prevent SOPA- or ACTA-like uprisings from the public:

In response to the anti-WCIT “campaign,” according to the September retreat’s preparatory materials, the ITU reluctantly launched a “counter-campaign,” which the agency believes “has been fairly successful outside the US and somewhat successful even in the US,” where “some of the statements made to denigrate ITU and WCIT are so extreme that they were easy to challenge and rebut.”

Going forward, the ITU focused at its meeting on the possibility of an “intensive anti-ratification campaign in OECD countries, based on the so-called lack of openness of the WCIT process, resulting in a significant number of countries refusing to ratify the new ITRs.” The ITU calls this possibility “the so-called ACTA scenario,” referring to sometimes violent protests against the secret ACTA treaty that took place this year.

To develop the next phase of its “counter-campaign,” the ITU hosted speakers from leading PR and advertising agencies to advise them on the use of social media. For example, Matthias Lufkens, Head of Digital Strategy for global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, gave a presentation on how his agency helped the World Economic Forum leverage tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr to fend off “occupy”-style protests that occurred both physically in Davos and on the Internet.

“There is a risk that [the ACTA scenario] will happen, but our communication campaign can mitigate this,” the internal document says.

Of course, the campaign doesn’t really appear to be going that well — especially since so much of it revolves around “deflect[ing] media questions from secrecy, taxes and censorship” to the blandly empty (and absolutely silly) statement that “the revised ITRs have the exciting potential to pave the way for a broadband revolution in the 21st century.” I’m sure that sounds catchy on a tweet. The problem, of course, is that folks on the internet don’t tend to believe that kind of bureaucrat-speak when they know it’s not true. As Downes notes:

Here’s the unvarnished truth, which no PR agency can help the agency talk, tweet, or prevaricate their way around: The commercial Internet emerged and matured entirely since the treaty was last reviewed. It developed in spite of the ITRs, not because of them.

There is a familiar pattern here of ambitious regulators who have no expertise and little experience with the Internet proclaiming themselves its benevolent dictators, only to find the peasants revolting before the coup has even started.

The ITU is no different than the sponsors of ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, and other attempts at regulating the Internet, its content, or its users by governments large and small. Like the media lobbyists who continue to see the successful fight to kill SOPA and PIPA as a proxy war waged solely by Google and other Internet companies, the ITU simply can’t accept the reality that Internet users have become their own best advocates.

Once again, these bureaucrats really have no clue what they’re doing.

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Comments on “Doubling Down On Secrecy: ITU Believes Secret Media Strategy Key To Avoiding SOPA/ACTA Fate”

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49 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Is there a bureaucrat who does know what they are doing?”

No there isn’t. Ever bureaucrat that ever was and will ever be is not as smart as Mike Masnick and me. We could do every single other person’s job better than they can. Everything we think is perfect, and everyone else is an idiot. We are so perfect that we cannot be challenged. We could easily beat you in any debate, but we will not answer your questions because we have already answered them. We have answered all questions perfectly, and those answers, wherever they may be, are perfect and cannot be challenged.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Is there a bureaucrat who does know what they are doing

With any profession there are people who are incompetent and people who are skilled, and I think bureaucrats are no different. They can often seem to not know what they’re doing because what they’re really doing is not what people think (or they say) that they are.

Everyone seems crazy when you don’t understand their point of view.

out_of_the_blue says:

Hmm, choice of bureaucrats or corporatists... NEITHER.

Mike’s bias for corporatists should be obvious to all from his last line, but again, it does not follow from opposition to UN bureacrats that giant heartless amoral corporations are at all trustworthy or concerned with public interests. Mike’s ranting here is no more important than if he picked one professional wrestler over another: it’s all phony; behind the scenes even Google’s reps are at the cocktail party with the bureaucrats, all just scheming for how to slice the pie.

ldne says:

Re: Hmm, choice of bureaucrats or corporatists... NEITHER.

You really are an idiot, aren’t you? At least with corporations you can elect to close your wallet or use another website and at least have some effect on them and major benefits to yourself, by keeping your funds and information. Bureaucrats on the other hand, reach into your wallet uninvited and under threat of jail time through taxation, legalize the theft of your personal information for their own purposes, and game the election system so that hordes of gullible idiots will keep them in office, or elect a replacement that is still one of them, just from the “opposing” team, who will gladly work with theirs on such important issues as keeping third party campaigns under their thumb and out of their hair while publicly arguing over funding issues that are 2% of their 40% above revenue spending.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmm, choice of bureaucrats or corporatists... NEITHER.

“Mike’s bias for corporatists should be obvious to all from his last line”

We have routinely write articles about corporations lambasting them for mistakes they’ve made/illusions they’re suffering/lobbying congress to enact laws to benefit them.

But yeah, Mike is totally biased for corporatists. /s

I seriously fucking hate you blue. You’re hypocrisy truly knows no bounds.

And it’s even more hilarious watching you bitch about Google and big corporations and the rich day in and day out and the moment someone makes a remark about the studios/labels and the RIAA/MPAA you’re the first one defending them and saying they deserve to make billions and throw away hundreds of millions on ventures that have no guarantee of profitability (but you also point out how copyright should be a guarantee to make money). You’re seriously a fucking stooge. And yes, I said fuck a few times. I’m sure your virgin eyes are now popping out of their skull at such vulgarity. Well FUCK YOU and your virgin eyes. And just for the record, I’m not Dark_Helmet. We DO NOT write in a similar manner. And the occasional curse word/insult DOES NOT a similar writing style make, you goddamn idiot.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmm, choice of bureaucrats or corporatists... NEITHER.

Bureaucrats or Corporations: Who are the innovators, enhancers and competitors that have made the Internet a ?free-zone??

Bureaucrats or Corporations: Who will be the more likely to keep the Internet a competitive market place?

Bureaucrats or Corporations: Who has a track record of understanding the Internet to move it forward?

Loser is an out_of_the_blue suit?

Anonymous Coward says:

“Once again, these bureaucrats really have no clue what they’re doing.”

I know, I know. I wish they could be perfect like us. It’s so cool how we know everything, and we can point to everyone else and point out how inferior they are. There just isn’t a human being on earth that we’re not smarter than. Every person we look at, all we can see is how dumb they are. Gosh, we’re just so perfect and so awesome. It’s a shame that everyone doesn’t just look to us for pointers on how to manage their business. We’re such experts in so many different fields. We fully understand all of the nuances at play. It doesn’t matter that we don’t have all the facts. We’re just that smart. Facts. Schmacks. That’s what we say. We know what’s best for everyone else all of the time. That’s why we can’t be bothered with discussing the nuances with detractors. We are above having to defend anything we say or write. We get to tear everyone else apart, but then we refuse to ever discuss ourselves. That’s how special we are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“And what fresh hell is this supposed to be?”

I already answered your question. I’m sorry you’re not aware of the answer. No, I will not link to it. No, I will not repeat it. It was the perfect answer, and no response on your part is needed. Nor will any further challenges be entertained. Just know that I am smarter than you, and I could run complex international bodies perfectly in my sleep.

anon says:

Re: Re:

Actually you have a point, I remember a project a few years ago where they put a group of CEEO’s against a group of kids and told both to design a company selling some object , I dont remember what, and the kids made millions while the CEO’s went bankrupt. Although the CEO’s did make a lot of money from the Bonuses they took when there business went bankrupt. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Actually you have a point, I remember a project a few years ago where they put a group of CEEO’s against a group of kids and told both to design a company selling some object , I dont remember what, and the kids made millions while the CEO’s went bankrupt. Although the CEO’s did make a lot of money from the Bonuses they took when there business went bankrupt. /s”

And nobody could run a complex international agency better than Mike Masnick. His genius shall never be challenged. He would have destroyed that group of kids with his cunning. No one can question his insight. He tears down everyone and everything. No one questions him and gets away with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘Once again, these bureaucrats really have no clue what they’re doing.’

they dont have to have a clue. they will just do whatever it is they want. when it comes to it, unless there is a protest resembling the one against ACTA etc, they will get away with it. the sad part is these people dont care about anything except money. the reasons for the meeting are bullshit with only how to make more money and take more control out of the internet being the whole crux. yet again, another leaf coming out of the entertainment industries hymn book. as long as they get what they want, screw everyone else!

Anonymous Coward says:

“Once again, these bureaucrats really have no clue what they’re doing.”

They obvious do know what they are doing, like the nobility of old they are trying to arrange the world to suite their interests, and that of their cronies, the people in power. They believe that they know better than the general public, and often that the general public are ignorant people who should be told what to do. Unfortunately this is the attitude that leads to revolutions and civil wars.

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

In another lifetime, copyright was enacted to prevent people from voicing their own opinion via print. It did evolve into a limited monopoly for those who write, but it took a few years, give or take.

Now, we’re full circle.

To think the ITU wants to take the role of both church and states clearly shows we’re dealing with a group who has learned nothing of “Let them eat cake.”

I’ll prep the guillotines. We’re going to need quite a few of them.

Wally (profile) says:

” ?counter-campaign,? which the agency believes ?has been fairly successful outside the US and somewhat successful even in the US,? where ?some of the statements made to denigrate ITU and WCIT are so extreme that they were easy to challenge and rebut.? “

The question I have is do any of the people in the countries supporting it actually have a voice to protest with? My guess is a big fat no, and a lot of EU telco’s will just put up the “Silly Americans” argument pertaining to our expertise involving the Internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

We could learn something from SOPA here...

You know, when the pro-SOPA crowd called us out for using “misinformation”, you have to realize that they were kind of right in a way. Now don’t get me wrong, it was always a bad bill, even with the amendments late in the game, but how many people actually knew what was going on, and how many were just following the leader? There’s a difference between “education” and “propaganda”, and only those who actually understood the whole issue (which was a minority, admit it) could possibly qualify to give the former. Most of what I’m seeing now is the latter, basically boiling down to “OMG the ITU’s gonna take over teh internetz!1!eleven!”.

I’m not supporting the pro-SOPA lobby in any way, I’m just saying that the critics had a point – this is a bad way to conduct a protest. We need to make sure we’re not jumping to conclusions. We don’t really know what they’re going to do at this point, so it won’t be fruitful to enter protest mode right away, because we don’t really know what we’d be protesting. All the various “proposals” are at this stage just that – nothing has been decided yet. We need to give them time to produce something before we act.

What we can do, however, is start informing people about what is happening, as opposed to what could happen.

Dave (profile) says:

ITU conference

How can you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving! Fairness, like redistribution and many other terms used by politicians are nothing more than buzz words. We are very stupid but necessary obstacles to them. Without workers there are no funds to steal. Without those who create intellectual properties they have nothing to regulate – hopefully in ways that will spin off more money for them and their partners in crime around the world.
This power grab attempt shouldn’t surprise anyone. They don’t give a hairy rat’s backside about fairness… they are trying to get in position to control the flow of money.

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