WCIT proposals would 'have reverberations throughout the network'

ICANN's position not threatened, but treaty conference could still affect Internet routing

Although an upcoming conference of the International Telecommunication Union will not include proposals to take direct Internet governance functions away from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Internet officials say they're nonetheless worried about the impact the treaty-revision meeting could have.

ITU member nations--all 193 of them--are set to meet in Dubai this December for the 12th World Conference on International Telecommunications, aka WCIT-12.

State proposals for consideration during the conference have been shielded from public scrutiny, but some have recently made their way online to WCITLeaks, a website developed by Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

A compilation document of proposals (.pdf) dated May 3 includes language that would require bilateral billing arrangements for Internet traffic that "take into account the possible need for compensation between them for the value of elements such as traffic flow, number of routes, geographical coverage and cost of international transmission, and the possible application of network externalities."

Under the ITU International Telecommunication Regulations--the treaty set for revision in December--traditional telecommunications operators already share costs for shared circuits. Imposing a point-to-point cost-sharing mechanism on the Internet would "have reverberations throughout the network," said Sally Wentworth, the Internet Society's senior manager of public policy, in an interview.

"Costs would go up for end users, traffic simply wouldn't go to certain places. It really would have dramatic impacts," she added.

The WCIT document also includes a proposal that a member state "shall have the right to know through where its traffic has been routed, and should have the right to impose any routing regulations in this regard, for purposes of security and countering fraud."

In addition, some countries have proposed international harmonization of cyber crime laws, including data retention around cyber crime and "approaches for network defense and response to cyber attacks."

The leaked online document indicates that the Council Working Group to Prepare for the WCIT has yet to consider the cyber crime language, which, if approved in December, would add a new article to the ITRs.

"What we have now is a series of proposals which while we think are manageable, are also difficult," said Richard Beaird, State Department senior deputy United States coordinator, international communications and information policy, while speaking June 5 at an event hosted by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C.

For more:
- go to WCITLeaks (contains no classified or sensitive information)

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