The websites of the ITU were hit by a denial of service
attack Wednesday afternoon, conference organizers confirmed, saying that
pointed to the importance of cybersecurity, one of the issues on the table at
the ITU's WCIT 12 conference in Dubai this week.
The attack, for which hackers claimed responsibility,
disrupted the work of the meeting of Working Group 1 of Committee 5, which is
focused on economic issues like taxation and tariffs.
Web companies, and the U.S. delegation, are concerned that
developing countries will want to charge for Web traffic to compensate for
declining revenues from tariffs on traditional telecom traffic exchanges and to
help pay for expanding broadband infrastructure.
Asked at a press conference Thursday morning whether it was
accurate to say developing nations in Africa were looking to replace those
tariffs with broadband taxes, the chairman of Committee 5, Joshua Peprah of
Ghana, said that was not the case. But he also said those countries have
to find the revenue to build out broadband infrastructure through taxation or
Peprah said he was confident that the conference would come
to consensus on the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) the
conference is attempting to update. He pointed out that those 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."
He also said there was a proposal on the table to update
them every 8-10 years rather than wait another quarter century, which he
suggested did not make since given the speed of digital change.
The U.S. does not want the conference to become an
opportunity to expand government control of the Internet, its content or
economics. In response to a question from
B&C/Multi, Peprah said he
shared U.S. delegation member Ambassador Phil Verveer's sentiment that the
conference not do anything to affect governance of the Internet. "It has
been good as it is," he said. "We just want it to continue."
According to the U.S. delegation, the conference has agreed
not to change the definition of telecommunications, which the U.S. feared would
have been one way to extend the treaties to web content and service providers.
But Peprah said while that is true, work continues on the definition of ICT
(information and communications technology), which he said is used almost
synonymously with telecommunications.