Covered entities under International Telecommunications Regulations a critical, undetermined issue, says ambassador

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After 3 days of meetings, member states of the International Telecommunication Union have yet to determine what entities should fall under International Telecommunications Regulations. It's still unclear whether ITRs will cover operating agencies or recognized operating agencies.

"We'll be working that issue literally day and night over the next few days," said Amb. Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications, during a Dec. 6 press call.

"Operating agencies" is a broader term including the Internet sector, according Kramer. The United States feels strongly that the ITU should not address issues within the Internet sector and focus solely on telecommunications and advancing broadband. Including the Internet in ITRs opens the door to content censorship and regulation of payment models, said the ambassador.

Kramer said the U.S. delegation has been working with a variety of countries in bilateral discussions to narrow the focus of regulation to ROAs. Countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific have been particularly supportive of U.S. efforts to keep the Internet out of ITRs, he added.

Kramer said he's not disappointed or surprised that the ROA issue hasn't yet been settled, because "there's a pretty big gap in points of view between a variety of nations," he said.

There are "nations that are focused on liberalization and free speech and commercial opportunities, etc. and those that have a very different view. It's not an easy issue to work through because it's a philosophical one," added Kramer.

Two proposals from Russia, for example, directly oppose the U.S. delegation's view of what should be covered by ITRs. A Russian proposal on Internet security should not be considered, said Kramer.

"Anything that gets into the content or the Internet we do not feel should be part of this treaty," he said. "Seemingly harmless proposals can open the door to censorship."

Russia has also proposed that Internet governance be moved away from multi-stakeholder organizations, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to governments or a single organization.

"We fundamentally disagree with that, because once governments are in that role, they're in a position to make judgments about how the Internet is going to operate, what type of information is going to flow there," said Kramer.

For more:
- go to the ITU WCIT-12 webpage

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