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Dubai Conference Could Change How Internet Operates

Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Governance of the Internet could change dramatically following a review of an international agreement on global telecommunications set for this coming December in Dubai. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell (R) and the State Department's Richard Beaird described the impact of the review during a discussion hosted by the Free State Foundation.

The International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), a 1988 treaty that created binding guidelines for the international operation of telephone, radio and satellite services, will be rewritten during the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT), hosted in Dubai by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations.

Commissioner McDowell gave an update on a proposal to give the United Nations more control over the Internet on Wednesday, which is backed by China, Russia, Brazil and India. It would give the UN’s International Telecommunication Union more control over the governance of the Internet, including cyber security and domain names.

Commissioner McDowell, Republicans and Democrats, the Obama Administration and public advocacy groups all oppose the plan. In a paper released December 2011, McDowell wrote, “No government, let alone an intergovernmental body, can make decisions in lightning-fast Internet time. Economic and political progress everywhere, but especially in the developing world, would grind to a halt.”

Responding to Commissioner McDowell and Senior Deputy Beaird were: Jacquelynn Ruff, vice president of International Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs at Verizon; Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge; and Richard Whitt, director and managing counsel for Public Policy at Google.

Updated: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 12:18pm (ET)

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