Google has asked users to pledge their support for a ‘free and open Internet’ in the run-up to a conference of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union next month. The conference may agree a new communications treaty dealing with the way the Internet is regulated.
Google is concerned about a ‘growing backlash on Internet freedom’ and explained that ‘Forty-two countries filter and censor content. In just the last two years, governments have enacted 19 new laws threatening online free expression.’
The ITU is made up of representatives from UN member countries, all of whom, according to Google, are members of the respective national governments.
Only governments have a voice at the ITU. This includes governments that do not support a free and open Internet. Engineers, companies, and people that build and use the web have no vote.
The ITU is also secretive. The treaty conference and proposals are confidential.
According to the ITU, countries are free to send whoever they want to the conference. It’s not restricted to members of government. But Google is unconvinced.
Governments alone should not determine the future of the Internet. The billions of people around the globe that use the Internet, and the experts that build and maintain it, should be included.
One of the key areas of contention for ITU members is the performance of key functions in the administration of the Internet, such as top level domains. These are currently managed by ICANN, a body which is based in the US under the remit of the US Department of Commerce. Russia, China, and India want these functions to be run by the ITU.
The conference takes place between 3 and 14 December in Dubai.