U.S. issues statement on WCIT talks: Progress, not failure

U.S. issues statement on WCIT talks: Progress, not failure

Summary: ZDNet Government's David Gewirtz has been in touch with the U.S. delegation to the WCIT and has received an official, on-the-record comment regarding status.


I've been in touch with the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) and have received an official, on-the-record comment regarding status. The following is according to Ambassador Terry Kramer, Head of the U.S. Delegation to the WCIT:

Early reports suggesting failure of support for a joint U.S. - Canada proposal for early discussion on the scope of the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) are inaccurate.  The proposal called for priority discussion of certain “foundational” issues and definitions at the WCIT. As of the end of Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, the following progress had been made:

  • As proposed by Canada and the United States, the WCIT took up the foundational issues at a high level, within the first two days of the Conference;
  • As a result, the Preamble of the ITRs was retained with only minor changes, preserving the original scope and purpose of the treaty;
  • The definition of telecommunications in Article 1 of the ITRs was retained with no change;
  • The discussion of which entities the treaty would apply to - recognized operating agencies (RoAs) or operating agencies (OAs) – was taken up by a high-level working group reporting directly to the Chairman of the Conference.  The RoA issue remains an important point of discussion for the United States, which will continue to work for its retention in the ITRs.

The U.S. positions on these definitional issues have been supported or shared by numerous countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.  There has been no “failure” to achieve U.S. objectives; to the contrary, the WCIT has made progress on these issues, validating the proposal by the U.S. and Canada to address them early in the proceedings.  The U.S. Delegation will continue to make efforts to provide information on a transparent basis to the media and the public.   

Thanks to Ambassador Kramer and his team for keeping us up to date.

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Topics: Government, Privacy, Security


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Could you help us interpret the legalese?

    I'm guessing that the ambassador is a lawyer. Certainly, I don't think many of us have time to read and digest the existing treaty text right away (it's not high up on my reading list).
    John L. Ries
    • However...

      ...it does sound like efforts to expand the scope of the ITU treaty were turned back.
      John L. Ries
  • I'm working on it...

    I find this stuff hard to grok myself. After all, my background is computer science, not law -- and once you start integrating diplomatic-speak, things get even more confusing. I'm attending a briefing with Ambassador Kramer tomorrow morning, and hopefully, I'll have more of a clue after. It does look like our team is working hard to make things right.
    David Gewirtz