13 November 2012

“Stop the Net Grab”: NRO shares concerns about the WCIT process

The Number Resource Organization (NRO), the body representing the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), today expressed its support for the “Stop the Net Grab” campaign that is being spearheaded by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in the lead-up to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12).

WCIT-12 will convene in Dubai from 3-14 December 2012 to review the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) global treaty known as the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). This treaty was agreed upon in 1988, and will be reviewed for the first time at the WCIT-12 meeting. The ITRs currently encompass high-level standards for traditional international telecommunications networks, but some proposed revisions suggest an increase in governmental actions that may adversely affect how telecommunications networks are managed and developed in the future.

The “Stop the Net Grab” campaign highlights the troubling lack of transparency surrounding preparations for the WCIT-12 and the meeting itself. The NRO also flagged this issue in its submission [PDF] to the ITU’s open consultation process, noting the limited opportunities for participation of ITU Sector Members, let alone the general public and other Internet stakeholder groups.

John Curran, NRO Chair, noted that, “Under the current ITU procedures, our organizations do not have full access to the discussions nor a formal say in the negotiations. The outcomes of WCIT are important matters affecting the public interest, for which participation of relevant stakeholders could be sought in the decision-making process.”

The development of Internet governance structures, including those relating to Internet number resource management, has been successful to this point thanks to open, transparent, and bottom-up processes. The success of the multi-stakeholder process, an inclusive and transparent governance model that has been reinforced by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), allows and encourages all interested parties to participate in discussions so that informed decisions can ultimately be made. The proactive attempts to engage in the WCIT-12 preparations are a reminder of the importance of multi-stakeholder processes and highlight how decisions made at the WCIT meeting may have consequences well beyond the traditional telecommunications sphere in which the ITU operates.

Mr Curran stated that the NRO views the campaign positively, adding, “I am pleased to hear that a new set of Internet stakeholders are voicing their concerns on Internet governance matters. Internet governance decisions have a huge impact on many sectors worldwide, and this campaign demonstrates how important it is that all stakeholders have a say in these decisions, with the Internet now a critical infrastructure for all human kind.”

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