WCIT Ambassador Kramer: Progress, But Still Work to Do
Preserving telecom definition is success, but still work to do on to who treaties apply to
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/6/2012 11:59:57 AM
With the bipartisan backing of Congress, the delegation has made it clear that the treaties cannot be expanded to issues of Internet governance or content, and would have troubles with new broadband tariffs or taxes.
Kramer said that, three days into the conference, early successes include no change to the definition of "telecommunications" in the treaties, but the that they were still ongoing discussions about the issue of who those treaties apply to; recognized operating agencies (ROAs), which are telecoms like AT&T and Verizon; or operating agencies (OAs), which could be expanded to include Web content companies like Google or Yahoo.
The U.S. would have preferred those issues be resolved by now, but Kramer did not characterize the fact they were still on the table as a failure of a U.S./Canada effort to deal with those first.
Expanding that ROA definition is another nonstarter for the U.S., which has threatened to walk away if the conference morphs into a referendum on moving away from a multistakeholder model of Internet governance.
Kramer and Joshua Peprah of Ghana, who chairs a key WCIT 12 committee dealing with economic and access issues, appeared to be on the same page when it came to the conference not getting into internet governance issues -- Peprah confirmed that position to B&C/Multi from Dubai early Thursday, as well as the fallback position on issues on which consensus could not be reached.
Kramer said that in that event, they would have to rely on the original charter of the International Telecommunications Regs (ITRs) the conference is meant to update. He said he had had the discussion with ITU Secretary General Hamadoun TourÃ© that if there were any disputes over definitions, they need to go back to the treaty's original charter, which deals with telecom and broadband, but not Internet governance or content.
Peprah said he was confident that the conference would come to consensus, but for issues that it did not, he pointed out that ITR's that were not updated would still be in force, as they have been for the past 24 years, saying ones that can be revised will be, and for the others: "We will make comments and move on."
Peprah had pointed to the hacking of the ITU website on Wednesday as a reason that cybersecurity was an important issue. Kramer agreed, but pointed instead to how quickly the site came back up as an argument for a multistakeholder approach to that issue.
The U.S. is concerned that cybersecurity not be used as leverage for more centralized control of the net, as Russia appears to be proposing.
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