Will The ITU's Increasing Focus On Control And Surveillance Split The Internet?

from the great-schism? dept

Techdirt covered the WCIT circus in Dubai in some depth last year, since important issues were at stake. As many feared, after a moment of farce, it became clear that a serious schism in the ITU was opening up — between those who wanted the Internet largely left alone to carry on much as before, with the possibly naïve hope that it might act as a vehicle of freedom, and those who wanted it regulated more closely, certain it could become an even better instrument of control.

Although WCIT is over, the ITU journey continues, and a fascinating post by Anthony Rutkowski on the CircleID Web site gives us a glimpse of where exactly it’s heading — and it doesn’t look good. The ITU’s “Internet/cloud” Study Group 13 is convening soon, and as Rutkowski points out, the provenance of the contributions submitted to this meeting reflect what is happening to the organization: 70% of them are from China or Korea.

Almost everyone has fled the organization except for a few established participants from China and Korea and their partners. Pretty much all of industry together with the G55 nations [who refused to sign the WCIT treaty] have left.

Just as telling is the subject-matter:

The contributions predominantly deal with the mechanics of pervasive surveillance and content control. This includes DPI mechanisms and use cases, filtering of content to local networks, control of individual user mobile phones, controls on peer-to-peer services, extensive regulatory controls on cloud computing facilities, and Big Data Analytics for extracting every nuance about individual users from real-time communications and stored data.

As Rutkowski rightly notes, given this continuing descent into police-state territory, there are now two paths for the ITU. The first is to pull back from the brink, and to return to a consensus-based approach that allows the G55 nations to participate in the development of basic Internet standards — not those predominantly designed for surveillance.

Alternatively, the G89 nations who did sign the WCIT treaty may decide it is more important for their sections of the Internet to be firmly under their control than for there to be a single, unified set of Internet standards for the world. The schism would be formalized, with a more open G55 Internet linking up as best it could with the more closed G89 network. That would be a tragedy for humanity, but on the basis of the WCIT conference and the developments since then, it’s certainly not something that can be ruled out.

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Comments on “Will The ITU's Increasing Focus On Control And Surveillance Split The Internet?”

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Ninja (profile) says:

I’m tempted to bash China and its increasing influence in the world and how this may lead to China-style idiocy all over. However the US are not far behind. They have been giving steady and frequent signals that censorship and control are ok. Everybody wants to place their own “frontiers” online as we have offline. In the end, borders are illusionary as we live in the same planet and share the same needs. The internet is too evolved for the current imbeciles that are in power. And they will try their best to break it. Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen.

Anonymous Coward says:

if there is control wanted, the steps to gain that control will be taken. if money is wanted, the steps to get that money will be taken. if both are wanted and can be gained, obviously the steps to gain both will be taken. the problem, as always, is the collateral damage, ie, the number of ordinary people that will be affected, that will totally ignored. the purvayors of these desires are those that dont want to see progress unless it gives them the control and the money they are used to having. eg, using the internet for phone calls is quicker, easier and a damn sight cheaper than using a tele company. however, think back to where all this stemmed from and you can thank the USA entertainment industries for the continued desire to stop progress and control the release of their material and the USA government for aiding them as much as possible, doing whatever they liked over the internet as if they already owned it (including jailing innocent people, giving ridiculous fines and shutting down legal sites) and wanting to use it against their own and other countries, totally innocent citizens. God Bless America!

Anonymous Coward says:

Who cares! Let them isolate themselves. Who needs them? I don’t order anything from China or Korea and I don’t give a shit about their news. I don’t even buy Euro. If if can’t get it in the good old US I can’t get it. I go to stores and actually check where it was made. If I have a choice of countries I will always pass on the Chinese made goods. I buy Chinese goods only if I expect to replace it in 2 months after it breaks. So I repeat. Who cares?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure you understand the nature of our global economy. If you buy an American car, you buy Chinese and other parts. If you buy an Apple product, or pretty much any electronic device using REMs, you buy Chinese. Pretty much nothing is made without more than one country’s participation in creation of the device or its component parts. We’re all in this together, as they say.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Split it the other way...

Some days, I just really wish we could split the internet up.

One internet for all the politicians, rights-holders and other sinkholes of humanity to argue over…

…and the other internet for the rest of us, ordinary folk who don’t want to sue/monitise/censor/destroy each other, who just want to get on with the common-wealth sharing of information and pictures of cats.

Corwin (profile) says:


The plan of

Big Data Analytics for extracting every nuance about individual users from real-time communications and stored data.

is interesting, because if THOSE results were opened up to everyone everywhere forever, then we would have a complete map of what everyone’ opinion actually is.

What I’m getting at is that that pile of data is a permanent voting mechanism. We could get rid of every last politician, just by doing what people want. With swarms of crowds to solve problems definitively, instead of perpetuating them with institutions.

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