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Politics

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
countries, itu, signing, wcit



Who Signed The ITU WCIT Treaty... And Who Didn't

from the the-full-list dept

We already noted this morning that the US, a bunch of European countries, and a sprinkling of other nations around the globe have refused to sign the new ITR agreement put together at the ITU's World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), even as ITU officials congratulate themselves on a job well done. Many people have asked who signed and who didn't. The ITU has an official list of signatures, which seems to slightly conflict with some earlier reports. Here's their graphic:
Perhaps more useful is this map, in which the signing countries are in black and the non-signing are in red. You might notice a few patterns.
Also, reporter Dave Burstein kindly sent along the full list (embedded below), with signatories in green, non-signatories in red and everyone else in white. The "everyone else" apparently includes countries who haven't paid up their dues and thus can't technically sign on yet, or who don't "have their credentials in order." In other words: bureaucratic blah blah blah. Europe, of course, dominates the non-signing countries. It's somewhat meaningless, but if you tally up population, the signatories cover 3.8 billion people, while the non-signatories cover 2.6 billion. And there are another ~600 million in play in those other countries.

So, what does it all mean? Very little right now. Even those countries that signed on still need to go through a ratification process -- and one hopes that people in some of those countries will realize that it's bad to be supporting a regime that wants political bureaucrats having anything to do with the internet, even if it's dipping a toe in the water. However, many of the countries don't much care about that, and simply want the new rules so they can try to control parts of the internet (and/or profit from it). The rules won't actually go into effect for a while. While they aren't binding, it is pretty customary for signatories to eventually adopt such rules locally.

The real story here is a world in which there are two competing visions for the future of the internet -- one driven by countries who believe the internet should be more open and free... and one driven by the opposite. Whether or not the ITU treaty is ever meaningful or effective, these two visions of the internet are unlikely to go away any time soon. The next decade is going to be filled with similar clashes as certain countries seek to limit what the internet can do, for their own political needs and desires. Seeing the initial breakdown of who's in which camp is useful, but this isn't over yet.

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  1. identicon
    Matt, 17 Dec 2012 @ 10:39am

    TechPresident posted an excellent piece (http://techpresident.com/news/23263/internet-freedom-activists-dubai-warning-finally-live-inclusive -label-or-else) on why some developing countries, even those with democratically elected governments, might support ITU oversight of the Internet.

    Essentially, the piece's thesis is that the organizations which currently administer the Internet are dominated by western Europeans and North Americans speaking English. Developing countries don't understand how these organizations work or how to get their voice heard there.

    In contrast, UN-affiliated organizations like the ITU are "a known table that every country knows they have a seat at".

    I don't think the ITU should be running things either. But it's probably too simplistic to say any country that supported ITU oversight of the Internet did so because they want to limit freedoms.

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