US rejects UN telecom bill

Saying the scope of the treaty was "problematic," US negotiators have rejected the UN telecom accord recently agreed to in Doha.

The Hill:

The United States said Thursday that it will not sign a United Nations telecommunications treaty that U.S. technology companies warn would disrupt governance of the Internet and open the door to online censorship.

The U.K. and Canada also said they would not ratify the treaty after negotiations ended at a conference hosted by the U.N. International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Dubai.

U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, who led the U.S. delegation during the conference, told reporters on a conference call that the U.S. could not sign the treaty because there were "too many issues here that were problematic for us."

The treaty is intended to govern how telephone calls and other communications traffic are exchanged internationally. While it is not a legally binding document, Kramer said the U.S. opposed extending the scope of the treaty to include Internet governance and online content matters.

"The U.S. will continue to uphold and advance the multi-stakeholder model of the Internet," Kramer told reporters.

The U.S. believed the treaty should not apply to Internet providers or private and government networks. Instead, U.S. delegates argued that only traditional telecommunications operators, such as AT&T and Verizon, should be subject to the updated rules.

For this reason, the U.S. opposed a draft resolution floated at the conference that focused specifically on the Internet and would have let the ITU play a more active role in future Internet policy matters.

Even though the resolution was non-binding, Kramer argued that it would set the wrong precedent for future global telecommunications talks. At other global meetings, he said, countries would refer to the Dubai conference and note that it touched on the subject of Internet governance.

It will be a long, twilight struggle to keep the UN out of internet governance. Something with the potential for the world body to rake in billions of dollars is just too tempting a target for the one world bureaucrats to pass up.