Five days ago ITU's Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré released the fourth and final ITU/WTPF-13 reportoutlining groundwork for internet governance (and internet regulatory topics) at upcoming meetings on February 6-8 and May 14-16.
Discussions at WTPF-13 will be based on this report and will serve as the sole working document of the Forum.
ITU re-defines "multistakeholder"
The ITU/WTPF-13 report explicitly includes the creation of "Global Principles for the governance and use of the Internet" and resolving issues pertaining to "use of Internet resources for purposes that are inconsistent with international peace, stability and security."
The Report explains the current multistakeholder model of internet governance is "under discussion" and acknowledges that members Cisco, U.K., U.S., and ISOC view the current governance of the Internet as "sufficient."
However, "with regards to international Internet-related public policy, the role of one stakeholder – Governments – has not been allowed to evolve."
For the Policy Forum, the ITU also has 64 "informal Experts" weighing in.
The "experts" are comprised mostly of Member State telecom representatives (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, others), plus individuals representing the interests and opinions of Verizon, Cisco Systems, British Telecom, the FCC, The Internet Society, ARIN, ICANN, and PayPal.
Who funds the ITU?
The website promoting the petition, defundtheitu.org, provides details and ITU funding summaries showing which countries contribute to the ITU and the tech companies (Member Sectors) that provide millions to continue the ITU (and its subgroups) respective missions.
Currently the US pays 30 Contributory Units (nearly $11 million per year) to the ITU as does Japan, making the two countries its top donors. Other big contributors include Germany at 25 units, Italy: 15, Saudi Arabia: 13, China: 12, UK: 10, Russia: 10.
Member Sector donations contribute additional monies to ITU subgroups. American Member Sector companies include Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Intel, Motorola, Sprint, Verizon and many more.
(Member Sector entities pay self-elected Contributory Units for ITU-T, R and D participation currently set at one-tenth what Member States pay - 31,800 Swiss Francs per "member" contributory unit per sector.)
One month ago the U.N.'s ITU held its World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) in Dubai, where Member States proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) - to expand jurisdiction over the Internet, such as creating pay-per-use tolls, heightening surveillance, and to give nation states increased control over the Internet.
Global opposition created an epic backlash, fueled by the ITU's insistence to keep conference documents from the public - despite ITU's insistence its process was transparent.
In response to ITU's secretive processes researchers at George Mason University created WCITLeaks, a website that solicited and shared copies of leaked WCIT/ITU documents.
Democratic and free speech organizations joined internet giants in the outcry, such as Google with its Take Actioncampaign, and the formation of country blocs included the U.S., the European Parliament, Canada, Mexico and more.
The purpose of the meeting, claimed ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, was simply to update the treaty that governs international phone calls; it had last been revised in 1988, when most phone companies were state-owned monopolies. Claims that the conference would implicate the Internet were part of a misinformation campaign pursued by unnamed opponents of the ITU, Touré said.
Dourado described how the ITU forced its treaty agreement with a vote that it insisted was not a vote:
(...) What followed was surreal. The Chairman calmly said that he had a long list of countries wishing to speak, and that in lieu of going through the list, he was going to take the “feel of the room” by asking countries to hold up their voting boards if they supported the resolution as amended by the Secretary-General. After also asking for those against, the Chairman said simply, “The majority is with having the resolution in.” After some applause, he added, “Thank you. Now we can go to Corrigendum 2.”
There were immediate inquiries from the UK and Spain as to whether we had just decided the issue by a vote. We had been promised, after all, that there would be no votes, that all decisions would be decided by consensus. In response to the UK’s inquiry, the Chairman replied, “The majority agreed to adopt the resolution as amended.” In response to Spain’s, the Chairman answered, “No, it was not a vote, and I was clear about it. Thank you, Spain.”
Their goal was a coup: to overthrow the open and transparent system of Internet governance that ensures the Internet’s freedom and accessibility, and replace it with their own central point of absolute control, through which policies of censorship and repression could be enacted.
The U.S. and 54 countries revolted and refused to sign. This prompted subsequent headlines that claimed the ITU had failed its attempt at an Internet power-grab, and that the treaty was defeated.
Meanwhile, some the 89 signing countries hurried home to begin implementation of the problematic new treaty.
At The Internet Society's Post-WCIT Roundtable panelon December 21, U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, head of Delegation WCIT-12, expressed serious concern about what will happen as the 89 governments move toward treaty implementation.
Amb. Kramer unequivocally stated that, "the ITU needs to step back from governance and content." He cautioned the room that America may have taken a stand against the treaty, but that "the U.S. does not own the internet."
Kramer said, "The internet must be left alone."
If the De-Fund The ITUpetition and movement is successful in the U.S., the ITU stands to lose 7.7% of its budget.
It could indeed hurt the slippery organization, which has had to increase the dollar amount of Contributory Units as membership and elected contributions have dwindled over the past decade.
And if Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré's ITU/WTPF-13 far-reaching internet governance report is any indication, ITU needs the internet now more than ever.
One thing is certain: the internet does not need the ITU.