ITU to Release Telecom Draft; Some Critics Underwhelmed

UN telecom agency will publish draft for upcoming telecom treaty; one critic says it is too little and has already been leaked anyway
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The International Telecommunications Union trumpeted their
decision on Friday to release a draft document in advance of its upcoming World
Conference on International Telecommunications (WICT-12)
conference in
Dubai.

ITU, an agency of the UN, pointed out that it had debated
the issue of publicizing documents and had decided to publish the draft of the
main conference "preparatory document," (TD-64) while pointing out
that ITU members could share the other documents if they chose to. ITU will
also create an online comment page for input on that document.

That is the conference that folks like FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski, Commissioner Robert McDowell, NTIA Chief Larry Strickling, and the
Obama Administration in general are worried could produce ITU-centric Internet
governance in service to countries like China and Russia.

Their concern is that those countries, in negotiating a new
telecom treaty, could try to graft the telecom model, in which countries charge
for international phone connections, to Internet connections as a way to
compensate for the decline in those telecom-related revenues in a world of
Skype and IP telephony in general.

Groups like Public Knowledge have been calling on ITU to
publicize documents related to the conference, but was notably underwhelmed by
what ITU called a "landmark" decision to release the single document.

"TD-64 is one compilation of proposals made by various
countries," said Rashmi Rangnath, director of PK's Global Knowledge
Initiative. "Many other proposals will continue to come in. Also, countries may
submit explanations/background documents to the working group mainly
responsible for preparations leading up to the WCIT-12." He said his and
other groups want to see those additional materials and proposals so they can
comment on those as well. He also points out that the draft ITU is posting was
already leaked weeks ago. "The ITU is not giving us any new information by
releasing TD-64."

Separately this week, FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski blasted Russian legislation
that would create
an Internet blacklist in the name of protecting children from inappropriate
content.

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