ITU Boss In Denial: Claims Success, Misrepresents Final Treaty, As US, UK, Canada And Many More Refuse To Sign

from the this-is-not-consensus dept

The ITU’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) is now over… and it played out almost exactly as many had predicted. After going back on explicit promises that the treaty would (a) not be about the internet and (b) would only be completed by consensus, rather than by majority vote — the US lived up to its promise not to support such a treaty by officially stating that it would not sign. A number of other countries quickly followed suit including: the UK, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Norway, Costa Rica, Serbia, Greece, Finland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Sweden, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Qatar (though some apparently said they could not sign because they first had to consult with their own governments — so it’s possible that some of these may change their mind, but many viewed such statements as a more diplomatic way of refusing to sign).

The US, on the other hand, was explicit in refusing to sign:

“It’s with a heavy heart and a sense of missed opportunities that the US must communicate that it’s not able to sign the agreement in the current form,” said US Ambassador to WCIT Terry Kramer. “The Internet has given the world unimaginable economic and social benefit during these past 24 years. All without UN regulation. We candidly cannot support an ITU Treaty that is inconsistent with the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance,” Kramer added.

The US delegation also laid out the specific reasons why it refused to sign, and they’re the same issues we’ve been talking about all along: (1) the attempt to expand the definition of the types of entities covered by the treaty from the big telcos to just about everyone running network (2) the explicit inclusion of internet and internet governance in the treaty (3) the claim of a mandate over cybersecurity and (4) the official regulation of spam. That last one hasn’t received as much attention, but the US found the rules put forth for dealing with spam going way too far, and putting in place rules that would violate the First Amendment.

Of course, with so many countries bailing out, the ITU’s promise that this would all be about consensus look positively laughable in retrospect. But, perhaps even more laughable is the response from ITU boss Hamadoun Toure whose claims read like those of a bureaucrat in complete denial. First he claimed complete “surprise” that the US and other countries walked away:

I couldn’t imagine they wouldn’t sign it. I especially was surprised by the reasons that were put in place. I had made it clear from the opening that [Internet and content were not a part of the discussion]. I invited ICANN to show that we want to build bridges. The telecoms society and internet society need to work together. I made an appeal to please help us build bridges. The fighting will not help the consumer that we are trying to reach here.

He kept going on and on insisting that the internet and internet governance were not a part of the agreement, even though they are. Of course, he then effectively admits that part of the goal is to be the key player in the internet

I have been saying in the run up to this conference that this conference is not about governing the Internet. I repeat that the conference did NOT include provisions on the Internet in the treaty text. Annexed to the treaty is a non-binding Resolution which aims at fostering the development and growth of the internet – a task that ITU has contributed significantly to since the beginning of the Internet era, and a task that is central to the ITU’s mandate to connect the world, a world that today still has two thirds of its population without Internet access.

So it’s not about the internet, but the internet is central to the ITU’s mandate. Of course, this claim is also a lie. The ITU’s mandate does not cover the internet, but telecom infrastructure. One of the more nefarious moves by Toure and the ITU in this whole process was to continually blur the lines between telecom infrastructure and the internet, as if they were one and the same.

The word “Internet” was repeated throughout this conference and I believe this is simply a recognition of the current reality – the two worlds of telecommunications and Internet are inextricably linked. I demonstrated that from the very beginning by inviting my friend Fadi Chehadé, the CEO of ICANN, to address our conference at the beginning.

So… again, he’s saying two different things. First, he claims that the treaty has nothing to do with the internet, and then insists that telecommunications and the internet are “inextricably linked,” which explains why the treaty pretty clearly would impact internet governance — which is why so many nations are refusing to sign.

Finally, there’s this bit of self-aggrandizing bullshit:

History will show that this conference has achieved something extremely important. It has succeeded in bringing unprecedented public attention to the different and important perspectives that govern global communications. There is not one single world view but several, and these views need to be accommodated and engaged.

WCIT has shown us this truth and we have worked hard together to find a way that is acceptable to all. Let WCIT be the beginning of this dialogue. As our two worlds increasingly converge so must we increasingly converse and find a common way.

To be honest, this feels like a speech that was written before the events of the past two weeks, perhaps at that secret meeting to plan its media strategy. To sit there and claim that WCIT was about finding a way “acceptable to all” and one in which the focus was on “finding a common way” is especially laughable, given how the whole thing concluded. History may very well show that something extremely important was achieved, but it may just be that the achievement was demonstrating clearly what a charade the ITU is, and making it clear that it is not the right organization to have anything to do with internet issues. The ITU has been shown, once again, to be an out-of-date, out-of-touch, obsolete organization searching for relevance.

The simple fact is that the world does not need an ITU to “enable” the internet. The internet was built and expanded rapidly through other means, driven by demand and what it enabled people to do. The current system is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been working, and shifting to a model driven by international bureaucrats was never in the cards.

The internet does not need the ITU. The ITU needed the internet to remain relevant. The internet, however, does not work that way, and any attempt to move it into such a system of bureaucratic oversight was doomed from the start.

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Comments on “ITU Boss In Denial: Claims Success, Misrepresents Final Treaty, As US, UK, Canada And Many More Refuse To Sign”

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Anonymous Coward says:

regardless of what was said, the whole reason for the meeting was to allow the ITU to take over control of something that it has no right to, just as no one other country has any right to do. the reason for this attempted takeover was for nothing less than financial gain because the telcos can see the writing on the wall as far as their demise is concerned. rather than trying to take more from people, which would surely have been the result, they need to justify why they are there now, why they are still needed and price their service accordingly, not try to rip people off still more than they are now. isn’t getting a 1,000,000% overall markup, which they have been getting for years, enough?

out_of_the_blue says:

Great! Now put this far, far, AWAY until the next rounds.

Don’t keep milking it. Dull as dish water.

IF anyone wants me to admit I’m wrong, er… maybe? All I opined was that pre-set positions would be held to, and no doubt were. My overall opinion is still that Google and Microsoft and other corporations regard this as not in their interests, but that doesn’t mean their interests can’t sometimes run with those of real people, nor does it mean those corporations have YOUR best interest in their grasping minds (they’ve no hearts).

My difference with Mike stems from his implicit assumption that “what’s good for Google is good for America” (so only an update of the phrase with General Motors).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Great! Now put this far, far, AWAY until the next rounds.

I’d really like you to keep making comments.
Can you drop the implied and not so implied insults?
The personal attacks ruin any reasoned comment you make.

I may be off the mark but this TD article is about the ITU and not Google/Microsoft. I’m sure those will come up, they always do.

So how do you feel about the ITU?

Stay on topic and drop the insults. I suspect you have something to add to the conversation but you make it so damn hard to take you seriously.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Great! Now put this far, far, AWAY until the next rounds.

“corporations have YOUR best interest in their grasping minds”

It’s pretty naive to believe this, and it’s even more naive to assume everyone here believes this.

Google is a corporation, they look out for their own interests, that’s their prerogative.

What bothers some people here at Techdirt, OOTB, is when this prerogative interferes with people’s lives and liberties.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Great! Now put this far, far, AWAY until the next rounds.

Difference between Hollywood and Google/Microsoft/tech companies, is the tech companies actually provide products and services that are useful, while Hollywood creates products that are a waste of time.

Its an order of magnitude easier to never watch a movie again than it would be to never use the internet or cell phone again.

So in that way, at least Google and Microsoft have our back occasionally, unlike Hollywood who never does.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Great! Now put this far, far, AWAY until the next rounds.

“My difference with Mike stems from his implicit assumption that “what’s good for Google is good for America” (so only an update of the phrase with General Motors).”

Actually, boy, it’s YOUR “implicit assumption”.
Please point out where Mike specifically says it.
Oh, you can’t, can you, kid?

You’ve earned your piece fo siver from your masters for today.

Wally (profile) says:

“The internet does not need the ITU. The ITU needed the internet to remain relevant. The internet, however, does not work that way, and any attempt to move it into such a system of bureaucratic oversight was doomed from the start.”

The lack of transparency and the entry fee’s should have been our first sign not to join in. But as it turns out our 3 nations are overly diplomatic towards those who suppress the freedoms of others.

Here’s the thing I have noticed. The ITU runs everything like the Farengi. You pay to sit, you pay to have a voice, you pay to vote, you pay to see any documents, you pay to basically ask questions at the front desk, you pay to keep it a secrete, and you get sanctioned for not perusing profit and opportunity.

By no means have they ever promoted transparency. It’s worse than the US government and that is saying something.

John Doe says:

Sounds like a bully I know

When I was a teenager, a friend of mine got into a fight with a bully. He got the bully in a headlock and proceeded to punch him in the face 5 or 6 times. The bully finally pushed away and with a red face asked my friend if he had enough.

Sounds like Hamadoun Toure is in denial about his black eye.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Sounds like a bully I know

But to the bully he was punching the kid in the fist with his face and making much pain in his knuckles…

Basically It’s all relative to the idiocy of the observer.

The denial is in not allowing his blinkered world view to coincide with the actual reality, but like most ideologies, you cannot argue with it since it is based on their absolute faith that they are doing it ‘for the good of humanity’ *snorts*

Logan2057 (profile) says:

Great! Now put this far, far, AWAY until the next rounds.

Good, old O_O_T_B, the lad or lass without a brain in their head. I’ve never seen anyone like this clown with their paranoid, almost fanatical, raving at Mike about everything and anything that he/she can find and then trying to make it sound as tho they are trying to have an intelligent?!?!?! discussion.
C’mon, Blue, we’re all amused at your foolishness, but it’s starting to wear a tad thin, this constant harping at Mike and how he’s constantly and continuously advocating piracy, getting rid of copy write, and showing the love to Google, all the while Mike isn’t saying any such thing. Twixt Bob, O_O_T_B, TAM, and the other Masnick haters, we have our own Max Senate movie complete with clowns, morons and idiots.

ITUInsider (profile) says:

H Tour? and Co

Well the proverbial chickens are now coming home to roost for Member States. They were stupid enough to elect a blathering idiot like Hamadoun Tour? in the first place.

Has no one taken notice of the fact the “Dr Tour?” as he likes to call himself even though he does not hold anything more than a fraudulent honorary degree from his Russian friends, was educated in Russia and has extremely close links with its leadership? And then we have the VSG (Zhao) as a Chinese national…..and most likely the person that will try to succeed Tour? in next year’s elections…..hmm China/Russia and this treaty??? No one smells something putrid here?

Or shall we talk about Tour?’s corrupt and incompetent management from his former days as Director of the BDT unit? Former employees have taken Mr. Tour? to the ILO Administrative tribunal (do a Google on Triblex) and as a result Members have paid out over $1 million in judgments due to Tour?’s personal vendettas and outright management incompetence.

One rapid way of cleaning up the ITU would be to place a limit of a maximum of two terms in ANY elected position. Tour? has been part of ITU “management” for 16 years…ditto for Zhao…and if Zhao were to serve two terms as SG, he would break all records with 24 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

You forgot the part about Mohamed Nasser al Ghanim, the ITU summit’s chairman, claiming he wanted to get “a feel for the room”, and took what initially looked like an informal vote on whether or not the ITRs would cover the internet. Then after the votes were counted, Mohamed said that it ‘was’ in fact a real vote and that the resolution was now adopted. WTF, LOL!?!?!

It’s too bad this ITU side-show took attention away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks that were going on in New Zealand. It almost makes me wonder if the TPP talks were scheduled to take place at the exact same time as the ITU conference, in order to draw attention away from them. TPP is even more dangerous than SOPA and PIPA.

I swear, these big business dictators are just going to keep ramming innovation killing copyright and patent Acts down everyone’s throats, until they finally get their way and ruin the the global economy for everyone. I’m about to simply give up on this world. I’m convinced a select few evil humans that manage to get into power, will be the end of the human race at some point in the not so distant future.

hopponit (profile) says:


The itu is wanting to do what some of our own politicians and companies want to do. Place restrictions and controls on the internet. They should have left it alone, but they just couldn’t do it (think of a wet paint sign, it was there . They couldn’t not meddle.). Some of our own actions have alarmed other countries and they want to keep our gov. from controlling it. The treaties we are pushing (transpacific and such) are seen as a power grab. In some ways this is a reaction to that. It is a push back that is being use by others to gain power and control.

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